Editorial March 12th 2021 : The Bhundoo

Welcome to this week’s editorial, Imagine your surprise if someone sailed in to your town, took a look around and then decided it should be named, from that day forward, after some random place that they thought it looked like. That is exactly what happened with the Bhundoo. The Aboriginal name Bhundoo that is now being used more often in reference to the Clyde River might well be the catalyst to add further to the recognition of the regions long aboriginal history. The Clyde River was “named” was named by Lieutenant Robert Johnson in 1821 as he sailed down the south coast of NSW in the cutter Snapper. Not only did he “name” the Clyde River after the Clyde River in Scotland because he thought it looked similar with islands located in its river mouth. Adding to his ego for naming things he declared Snapper after the name of his boat. Had he bothered to go ashore he may have enquired of the locals what they called the “Clyde” and paid respect to the fact it was already named. The first record of the name Bhundoo (recorded as a local Dhurga (native) name of the Upper Clyde River by Surveyor Thomas Florance was seven years later in 1828. The Bhundoo was also recorded on Mitchells Map 1834 as Clyde or Bhundoo along the lower reaches. Records State Archives NSW, Mitchell Library, Surveyors field notebooks.) In 1956 a new bridge across the Clyde River was officially opened to traffic. Not surprisingly they called it The Clyde River Bridge. The bridge built by the Department of Main Roads over the Clyde River at Bateman's Bay was officially opened by the Hon. J. B. Renshaw, M.L.A., Minister for Local Government and Minister for Highways, on 21st November, 1956.

Above: The entire town came out to walk the bridge in 1956. Will they do the same on March 27th? It was a BIG day in the township with the public invited to walk across the bridge before traffic was allowed. Now we come to 2021 with the pulling down of the iconic Clyde River Bridge and the grand opening of a new four lane bridge that passes over The Bhundoo (also known as The Clyde River). Visitors to the region will have already driven by our new Welcome signs that say “walawaani njindiwan,” which means “safe journeys everyone,” in the local Dhurga language.

The new, as yet unnamed bridge, is to be opened to traffic before Easter (word has it March 27th) . We understand that there will not be a public walk over prior to opening, as was the case in in 1956. Instead it is understood that the opening will be a quiet affair attended by officials citing Covid as the justification for limiting public access and celebration. There is little doubt that the officials opening the bridge will pay tribute to the State Government for building the bridge. There may well be accolades given that it was fast tracked as a Captain’s Call to stimulate growth and open up the region to economic expansion. There will be handshakes all round to the senior staff who signed the paper work, most likely handshakes to the senior project staff and even some words from the local Mayor thanking the local member for all his hard work in distributing taxpayers money to the region and building such a fine four lane bypass to the town. They might even dare to cut a ribbon. But what will be missing on the day is the recognition that should be paid to the river, known as the Bhundoo. In turn their should be, at the very least a smoking ceremony. The project boast having 14% of its workers as indigenous and celebrates this fact via various events that have been hosted during the construction including smoking ceremonies and commissioning artwork for the site office.

Instead of an opening by politicians to an invite only ribbon cut that will no doubt be a photo opportunity in an election year wouldn't it be terrific if we genuinely embraced the moment and had a smoking ceremony, an orderly walk over by bridge crews, including our proud indigenous locals who have shone through the project, and have the bridge officially named Bhundoo (or Bindoo based on dialect) with a ribbon cutting by our Koorie elders. Until next lei

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