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By Luke Voogt

Work on Drysdale’s bypass will proceed to schedule despite the discovery of an aboriginal artefact, Victorian Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said yesterday.

“Major construction will start in September. It’s business as usual – there are absolutely no delays and the project is on budget,” he confirmed.

“We’ve made it clear the archaeological excavation would take place and it was factored into this project as is the case with every major road project.”

Mr Donnellan reassured nearby residents the planned bypass was on schedule after a specialist team found an aboriginal hammer stone, possibly 5000 years old.

But he declined to say whether any finds of greater significance during the excavation could impact the start date or project costs.

“People have talked about this project for more than 40 years and we’re getting on and delivering it,” he said.

A specialist team was working with the local Aboriginal community to uncover and document any significant items to ensure construction began in September, Mr Donnellan said.

The team has commenced recovery work at the top of the hill on Andersons Rd, Drysdale.

Work will ramp up over coming weeks with the team to bring larger mechanical sieves and excavators onto the site.

The team was working under the supervision of Major Road Projects Authority and Ballarat’s Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation.

All discovered artefacts would remain in the custody of a heritage advisor until the corporation determines their use, Mr Donnellan said.

The corporation would either keep the artefact, give it to a museum to display or return it “to country” upon completion of the bypass, he said.

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