Journey to return remains

ABORIGINAL REMAINS: Ned Luscombe at the Kyancutta Museum with a box similar to the ones storing, what he believes, to be Aboriginal remains from the West Coast.

ABORIGINAL REMAINS: Ned Luscombe at the Kyancutta Museum with a box similar to the ones storing, what he believes, to be Aboriginal remains from the West Coast.

Kyancutta man Ned Luscombe wants to return what he believes are Aboriginal remains to their rightful place.

His grandfather, Robert Bedford, established the Kyancutta Museum in the late 1920s and according to Mr Luscombe, was a relentless collector and trader in minerals, fossils meteorites and Aboriginal artifacts and remains. 

He said in his grandfather’s travels he “unashamedly exhumed Aboriginal remains”.

Mr Luscombe said when he purchased the Kyancutta Museum more than 20 years ago, he and his wife found the remains when cleaning out the cellar. 

“My wife came across some boxes and on investigation they were human remains,” he said.

“The boxes were labelled ‘Ceduna’, ‘Lake Newland’ in India ink so we stopped looking.” 

Mr Luscombe said his mother and Ben Peters, who had travelled with Robert Bedford, told him the remains were those of Aboriginal people who had been killed in retribution for killing John Hamp.

He said until the recent debate about a reconciliation monument at Elliston he did not know what to do with the remains.

“When the time was right we thought we would know what to do and it seems as though this could lend a hand to reconciliation,” he said.

Mr Luscombe said he had met with Wirangu people including elder Veda Betts and tears were shed by all parties. 

He said he had intended to hand the remains back until earlier this week when he was told he would need to call local police. 

“We have to report it for police to come and box the remains up, they will then be taken to Adelaide for examination to determine that they are Aboriginal remains and their provenance.

“We cannot change the past but through acknowledgement of past mistakes and respect for other cultures comes reconciliation and hopefully a better future,” he said.