September 04, 2020

Living in a Nightmare


Local legend says that after a brutal massacre by whitefella, Aborigines sang curses into land where Peter van Lieshout, brother of A-Mart billionaire John van Lieshout, has been trying unsuccessfully to build a "Village Community" for the last thirteen years.

Now linked in the proposed "Nightcap Village" development is a neighbouring property where more than twenty trusting investors provided over $2 million for purchase of properties in 2014-16, without receiving consideration or restitutionFor those who lost life-savings in the venture, the hurt and harm is curse enough to add flame to legend.

Mingungbal elders selling tribal title
Mingungbal elders occupy 3222 Kyogle Rd, Mt Burrell
Marketing materials for Nightcap Village promote a "new paradigm" that returns "sacred land" to "sacred" aborigines, who are occupying the Mt Burrell properties and claim to be "true owners".

Sharing a local brew as they dream about a safe haven from the madness of the matrix, prospective new investors are welcomed by Minjungbal elders and offered share certificates with "tribal title" to a block of land, for just a small deposit of $100,000. "Vendor finance" for the next seven years is available.

"Tribal title" on sale
Prospective investors are given a tour and enjoy scenic vistas as they are encouraged to imagine their dreams come true in a secret sacred Eden.

Promotors of the communitarian venture don't mention ongoing litigation by creditors claiming land title is void.

Hopeful, enthusiastic new buyers hear nothing about the nightmares and hidden curses afflicting earlier investors: the suppressed stories of bank accounts drained empty, hopes turned to ashes and dreams that became dust after the bait was bitten. 

Mark McMurtrie, Richard Moate market tribal title
In response to concerns that the original investors got shafted, potential new funders are assured that angry creditors have been "taken care of": their money was returned, or they will get a payment soon, or they don't want their life savings back, or they are just barking mad and like to fight.

A few of the early investors who are "accepted" have been invited to return in 2020, to occupy a "dwelling site". Others still trust promises of restitution, hoping to receive a patch of land to live on, or a payout in compensation for their loss. Concerned investors who from the outset insisted on accountability were "rejected" and evicted from the properties they had paid for.
 

Max Igan promotes Nightcap

Trauma and conflict still haunt investors who poured their hearts and funds into the land-share venture and lost everything. Most have given up hope of any restitution. Those seeking vindication through legal process have been threatened with retaliation for "holding up the project".

"Living in a Nightmare" was the apt title of a news report in the local Tweed Coast News in 2017, featuring Sarah and Tamati Kirkwood who promoted the venture in 2014-15. They are just one of the families who invested life savings in this venture and received nothing in exchange except betrayal, loss and intimidation.

Tweed Daily News: "Living in a Nightmare"

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