A neighbourhood cubby house knocked together within the Sandon Point Aboriginal Place has created a storm of controversy and confusion.
Council workers began dismantling the timber cubby and fort yesterday, but stopped after speaking to a member of the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy and Bulli parents, who say they built the structure to give their children "a bit of old-fashioned fun".
The cubby house stands on community land, near where an ancient skeleton was found in 1998 - a discovery that led to the tent embassy settling on the site indefinitely.
Parent Craig Penning, who this month helped build the cubby for his children Flynn, 10, and Holly, 7, and their friends, said members of the embassy at first objected to the structure, but later met the parents and children and gave it their blessing.
"We realised that it was a significant site and the kids understood that. In fact, [embassy founder Roy Kennedy] came over and talked to the kids last Friday," Mr Penning said.
Mr Kennedy said he had not supported the cubby house "in the first instance".
"In the second instance I asked [Mr Penning] that my children be involved."
Mr Kennedy would not provide any further details.
Wollongong City Council was alerted to the cubby house by a member of the Sandon Point Bushcare Group. The group's co-ordinator, Marcel Van Wijk, said the parents who built the structure may have unknowingly broken the law.
"Imagine the outrage if somebody was to do that level of vandalism to a cemetery - started digging up holes and putting poles in," he said.
"It's an Aboriginal Place and a declared state significant site. There are also issues to be considered if little Johnny falls out of that cubby house - who's held responsible for injuries and can council be sued?"
Penalties for vandalism within the Sandon Point Aboriginal Place include imprisonment and fines of up to $550,000.
A spokesman for Wollongong City Council said council workers began dismantling the structure yesterday morning but halted the work after speaking to area residents and a member of the embassy.
"The structure has been built without consent in an area of Aboriginal cultural and heritage significance. For these reasons, and to ensure public safety, council began work this morning to remove the structure by hand," the spokesman said.
"Council is aware that there are competing values and overlapping land management issues at Sandon Point."
The council will call a meeting with all stakeholders about the cubby house.
A draft plan of management concerning the area will go on exhibition for public comment by the end of the year.