Indigenous community to be consulted on Thunda Track

THE indigenous community will be further consulted after concerns were raised regarding the naming of the new walking track through the north Bombo quarry. 

The proposed mascot for the walking track.

The proposed mascot for the walking track.

At its May meeting, the council resolved to name the new walking track the “Thunda” track. 

Signage is to be developed for the walk and a proposal has been submitted by Councillor Warren Steel to use a mascot character image to promote the walk.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, council were to determine if the mascot image proposed is to be used in the track’s signage scheme and marketing.

Cr Steel suggested the name “Thunda”, stating that the name Bombo is an Aboriginal word for thunder. 

He hoped the track, a basic trail marked by blue posts, would become a sculpture trail with a lookout on the northern side of the old quarry. 

However, in May councillors debated whether that was derived from the name Bomba, some saying it was named after the Aboriginal leader Thumbon.

The majority of councillors decided not to refer it to the council’s streets and reserves naming committee for investigation and adopted the name.

According to the report, since council’s resolution to name it the “Thunda” track, concerns had been raised by a member of the indigenous community. 

At Monday’s public access, Kiama’s Paul Beaupark said he found the name to be offensive and insulting. 

He also questioned the information which stated that Bombo is the Dharawal word for thunder, and believed a name like Thunda could incite racism. 

Mr Beaupark suggested the name should be either spelt correctly as Thunder, or Muru Bombo, saying that “Muru” was the Dhawaral word for track or pathway.

“I have asked non-indigenous Australians what they think of the spelling, local non-indigenous people also find the spelling insulting, as it insinuates that is how an Aboriginal speaks, or (how) an uneducated Aboriginal (person) would spell.”

He suggested the name should have been referred to the Geographical Names Board, and its committee which investigates indigenous names.

“My advice from the Geographical Names Board is that the current name would not have been approved.” 

Mr Beaupark said other indigenous people were offended by it.

He also raised the issue of whether emergency services would not know where to locate someone, as emergency services organisations use maps according to the Geographical Names Board database. 

Deputy Mayor Neil Reilly said although he was supportive of the name Thunda, council should have sought further advice.

Cr Reilly successfully moved that before the council proceeded with identifying a mascot that the name be referred to council’s Aboriginal liaison officer, then likely be the subject of a further report, and after council made a decision have the name lodged with the Geographical Names Board.

Cr Mark Honey said while he sympathised with Cr’s Steels views, as council had “chosen a word that is actually an Aboriginal word”, council had a duty to consult with Aboriginal people. 

Cr Steel said about ten years ago council went through a similar exercise regarding Riverside Drive.

“We argued, debated, and got committees… And we came up probably with the worst name for that part of the area… Ten per cent of the road has actually got a riverside.’’

Mayor Brian Petschler said any associated logo or branding would still need to be debated further by council, but would be a worthy trial. 

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