Colourful essence of community
If you keep a look out, you’ll now be able to see witchetty grubs and kangaroos travelling the roads on the side of the Bonalbo Aboriginal Community bus. The colourful artwork depicting animals and trees found around Bonalbo has been created as part of the Bus Identity Project, coordinated by Northern Rivers Community Transport (NRCT).
Four local Aboriginal communities at Bonalbo, Box Ridge (Coraki), Mulimuli (Woodenbong) and Jabullum (Tabulum) this week are celebrating the new, colourful identity of their community busses and have taken pride in designing the artworks.
NRCT Aboriginal Transport Development Officer Lesley Mye said the project, which was funded by Transport NSW, was about giving the community ownership over their community busses.
“The communities already had the busses, but I wanted to bring them to life and consulted with the community about painting them,” Lesley said. “It was amazing. They were told they could paint whatever they wanted and so as a community they designed and painted their artworks onto canvas and that was later stencilled onto the busses. The unity it has created in all the communities is outstanding. The Jabullum kids cleaned the bus and some Bonalbo brothers cleaned out a shed to house the bus. It’s a real community outcome, giving back to Aboriginal people.”
Students from Bonalbo High School were responsible for painting the artwork for the Bonalbo Community bus. One of the artists, Shania Hickling, said she had drawn the hands and the kangaroo on the painting, and that the hands represented peace between all people in the area. Fred Binge, one of the bus drivers from the Bonalbo Community said the bus artwork represented the essence of the local area.
“The snake and other animals are all found around our area and we serve them as bush tucker food at the Bonalbo Café,” Fred said. “A Bloodwood tree has also been painted and this is important because the name of Bonalbo came from Bunawlbu, the name for Bloodwood.”
Fred and fellow Bonalbo Community bus driver, Cedrick Walker, said the busses made a big difference to the lives of the people in the community and that they were used for everyday shopping trips and doctor’s visits, to transporting the community to sporting events. They had both just taken part in NRCT’s bus licensing workshop and had gained the necessary skills and bus licences.