Ancient bones may lie in old police station


The former Bulli Police Station, where ancient Aboriginal remains are said to be buried.

The former Bulli Police Station, where ancient Aboriginal remains are said to be buried.

REPORTS that ancient Aboriginal remains from Sandon Point were re-buried in the grounds of the former Bulli Police Station have sparked calls for an investigation by local indigenous leaders.

Aboriginal bones were said to have been re-buried by Bulli police sergeant Sam Keys in the garden of the station in the 1930s.

Don Keys, 87, of East Corrimal told The Bulli Times how he remembered as a boy his father Sgt Keys being called to an excavation site at Sandon Point near the end of Hill Street, Bulli.

“I can’t recall the exact year, but I would have been about 10 years of age at the time,” he said.

Mr Keys said the old Bulli Jetty had recently closed, and the Bulli coal company was excavating a new siding to allow their trains to shunt onto the main south coast rail line when the remains were found.

The bones were sent to Doctor Charley Palmer, who determined they were not that of a murder victim, but ancient human remains.

“They were sent to a university in Sydney where further tests concluded that they were very old,” Mr Keys said.

The bones were returned to Bulli Police Station. Mr Keys said his father was instructed by the Wollongong police inspector to dispose of the remains.

“He buried the bones in the garden. It was common knowledge at the time,” he said.

Don Keys has revealed how his father Sgt Sam Keys buried Aboriginal bones in the yard of the Bulli Police Station.

Don Keys has revealed how his father Sgt Sam Keys buried Aboriginal bones in the yard of the Bulli Police Station. PHOTO: Warren and Diana Ackary

Mr Keys has revealed the location of where his father buried the bones to The Bulli Times.

Aboriginal activist and Sandon Point Tent Embassy founder Roy ‘Dootch’ Kennedy has notified the local Aboriginal Land Council of the possible burial site after contacted by The Bulli Times.

“Due diligence will be followed,” he said.

Mr Kennedy said there are a number of possibilities that could be undertaken if the bones are proven to be that of an Aboriginal person. He said one of those possibilities is for the bones to be re-buried at Sandon Point, where other ancient Aboriginal remains have also been traditionally interred. Several skeletons have been unearthed to the north of Sandon Point in the past. The most recent discovery was in 1998 after a sacred ‘Kuradji’, believed to be 6,000 years old, was exposed by heavy seas. The remains were re-buried at a secret site nearby.

Mr Kennedy said the Aboriginal Land Council had taken Mr Keys’ revelations seriously.

“It’s an exciting discovery, and if proved to be correct, will add to the integrity of the site,” he said.

Meanwhile Mr Keys said he would like to see the bones dug-up from the old Bulli Police Station’s garden and re-buried at an appropriate site.

“I wouldn’t like to see a shopping centre built over the top of those bones,” he said.

About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.


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