Renaming a bridge too far

The culvert 600m east of Somerville Bridge on Kyogle Rd, Tuncester, will be named Cubawee Crossing after a proposal to rename the bridge was rejected by Lismore City Council.

Yabur Yulgun Aboriginal Corporation asked Council to rename Somerville Bridge Cubawee Bridge but a motion put forward by Cr Vanessa Ekins at Tuesday's meeting to grant that request was defeated 9/2 (Crs Ekins, Ray Houston for).

Cubawee is the site of a former Aboriginal mission and is being developed as a site for education and historical purposes.

“I'm a bit concerned to read a Council report that recommends denying a request from an Aboriginal corporation to rename a bridge immediately adjacent to the former Cubawee Mission but naming a culvert hundreds of metres down the road instead,” Cr Ekins said. “There are big plans to celebrate the Aboriginal history of the mission and it would be appropriate to name the bridge after the mission.

“There are a lot of place names represented by our pioneers.

“I wonder how Aboriginal people feel about land that was taken away from them and then named after the people who took it.

“It would be a sign of respect to honour this request.”

Mayor Jenny Dowell said, after reading the staff report recommending naming the culvert rather than the bridge, she rang Yabur Yulgun and had a long conversation.

“I was reassured that Yabur Yulgun had no problems with the idea,” Mayor Dowell said.

Cr Peter Graham gave the chamber a quick lesson in map-reading, pointing out that east and west were confused on the map.

“There are a lot of floods in that area so I hope whatever they're doing out there is on stilts,” Cr Graham added.

In her right of reply Cr Ekins said Council had an opportunity to turn attention to Cubawee by acceding to the request.

However she failed to convince her fellow councillors who went for the culvert instead.

General manager of Yabur Yulgun Aboriginal Corporation in Lismore Hayden Burford said he believed the culvert had previously had a bridge over it.

“I don't have a problem with keeping the name of Somerville Bridge. I believe it was the Somerville family who gave the land to Aboriginal people, which was a nice gift, if it was the case,” Hayden said. “I belive it's ironic that the Indigenous people are being given back part of that which was taken originally and was never paid for.

“I don't want to dig my heels in and make it difficult. We're happy to rename the original site, that's nice... Most people just drive over the bridge without thinking so it's just putting the name on the map.

“Cubawee is a very historical site for people in this area, it was once a thriving area. I've spoken to a lot of the Elders who grew up there and it was a thriving community.

“It's strange that not so many years ago the people who lived at Cubawee needed a permit to go into town so apartheid was alive and well in Australia. It's good see progress is being made.”

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