Anger over 'Instagram-friendly' sign at Aboriginal death site

An Instagram sign, which has appeared at a sacred Indigenous site in North Queensland, has caused anger among the community.

The Leap, just north of Mackay, is the site where it's believed an Indigenous woman carrying a three-year-old girl leapt from a cliff to evade capture by Queensland Native Police in 1867.

It's considered to be the site of a massacre as many Indigenous people also tried to flee from police. However, the child survived and was named Johanna 'Judy' Hazeldene. Her descendants live in Mackay.

It's only recently a sign was erected on the hiking trail at the mountain's peak in the shape of a picture frame with the words, "I took the leap Mackay" printed on top. It appears to encourage people to take photos.

Mrs Hazeldene's great-great-granddaughter Deb Netuschil told the ABC the sign was "really disrespectful" because of the site's history.

The sign on The Leap's walking trail. Source: Instagram

"We were one of our lineage to survive, but there is a lot of our mob that didn't," she said.

"When I saw that I felt it was really disrespectful and... quite insensitive to our family."

Ms Netuschil added the site needed to be respected but she did not want hikers to stop using the walking trail.

Dr Chelsea Bond, a senior lecturer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies at the University of Queensland, told Yahoo7 when she first got news of the sign she was shocked and found it "sickening" that someone could be "so insensitive".

"But then again, in this country, this behaviour is not surprising," Dr Bond said.

The view from The Leap's look out. Source: Google Maps

"The desecration of, disrespect and disregard for Aboriginal sites of significance and Aboriginal grief and trauma is hardly uncommon. Take for instance Uluru or the recent case of Devil's Marbles.

"Australia is a nation that has as its official national day of celebration, a date that has for 80 years been a day of mourning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."

Dr Bond noted news of the sign emerged on the week of the 10-year anniversary of the National Apology.

"Instead Aboriginal trauma and suffering is (literally) framed as nothing more than a tourist destination, or a 'cool photo op'," she said.

"The installation of this frame in this place is not an exception; it is reflective of the relationship non-Indigenous Australia has with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in this country, right here and right now in 2018."

The Queensland Department of Environment and Science said the sign has been removed.

"Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services had no information about who placed the sign or when it was placed on the park," the spokesperson said.

"QPWS was contacted by local Traditional Owners to remove the sign as they considered it to be offensive."

The spokesperson added that the department "respects the Yuwibara people and agreed that the sign was offensive".

"As well as the insensitive nature of the sign, it is an offence to put any signage on a national park without
authority," the spokesperson said.

"QPWS removes any unauthorised signage from national parks.

The department liaised with the Mackay Regional Council and Mackay Tourism about removal of the sign.

It's not known who erected the sign, but they are yet to make a statement.