Extensive archaeological testing will soon be undertaken to pinpoint the location of several grave sites at the Huskisson Church site.
It is believed there are at least seven grave sites, both European and Indigenous, on the land as indicated by a ground penetrating X-rays undertaken in 2015 by Shoalhaven City Council.
Developer Steven Bartlett plans to build a hotel and conference centre on site, however said there had been no decision made on the removal of the four European graves known to exist in ‘Lot 3’.
“The matter will be the subject of extensive archaeological studies,” he said.
“The indigenous graves on Lot 9 have no bearing on the development except with regard to respectful curtilage, which we would obverse.”
Mr Bartlett said during the course of the archaeological work, further X-rays of the site would be undertaken to confirm there were no “unknown artefacts”.
“The site has been highly disturbed over the last 100-plus years and church records do not refer to any other graves on the site apart from the seven graves known to exist and as indicated by the ground X-ray,” he said.
“[The] seven grave sites, are all located in the same area of the church yard. There are four graves located behind the church on Lot 3.”
Mr Bartlett’s plans have been met by fierce community criticism over recent months. A community campaign has started to stop the development of the site, due its historic significance to Huskisson.
The news an Aboriginal man, known as King Budd Billy II of Jervis Bay, may be buried on the site has also sparked controversy about whether the site would be developed.
Mr Bartlett said two of the Indigenous grave sites were located on Jerrinja land while the third grave spanned the boundary.
“The general view in the Church committee is that the three graves on Jerrinja land (Lot 9) are Aboriginal burial remains,” he said.
“Lot 9 was transferred to the Jerrinja Land Council in 2016. I am waiting for the records to be recovered.
“But it is quite conceivable that a primary reason that Lot 9 was transferred to the Jerrinja Land Council is the location of the three grave sites.”
Mr Bartlett said at no point would any Indigenous graves be moved from the site.