North Bombo Quarry now known as the Thunda Track

Warren Steel on the Thunda Track. Picture SYLVIA LIBER
Warren Steel on the Thunda Track. Picture SYLVIA LIBER

KIAMA Council has been accused of being deceptive, after determining the naming of the North Bombo Quarry walking track no longer has any relationship to Aboriginal culture.  

At its May meeting, the council resolved to name the new walking trail the Thunda Track.

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

Councillor Steel's proposed logo for the track.

Councillor Steel's proposed logo for the track.

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

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

At council’s public access earlier this year, Kiama’s Paul Beaupark, an indigenous Australian, said he found the name offensive.

He also questioned information which said Bombo is the Dharawal word for thunder, and said a name like Thunda could incite racism, and the name should have been referred to the Geographical Names Board.

“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 said. 

The naming of the track and associated branding was referred to council’s Aboriginal Liaison Officer for advice before proceeding with the naming of the track and identifying a character that may be suitable for association with the naming.

According to Tuesday night’s  business papers, council’s ALO Elaine Hudson had since “consulted widely” to determine views held by local Aboriginal people in regard to the appropriateness of spelling the current proposed name for the track as either ‘Thunder’ or ‘Thunda’. 

“Elaine consulted with a number of Aboriginal Elders, community members and indigenous groups through the Indigenous Affairs Group and during the 2014 NAIDOC Awards,” council’s report stated.

“It appears there are strong views about the spelling of the word ‘Thunder’ with a preference that it not be spelt ‘Thunda’, and that if it is determined that an association with Aboriginal culture is to be linked to the naming of the track, then a suitable image for branding purposes should be commissioned from a local Aboriginal artist.

“However, during the consultation views about whether Bombo has any association with local Aboriginal words and meanings were also expressed, with five people (including a specialist anthropologist on the Dharawal speaking people) questioning whether ‘Bombo’ is associated with any Dharawal language/words.”

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Deputy Mayor Neil Reilly moved that the track’s name remain Thunda, and the council determine the naming of the track not be associated with Aboriginal culture.

“We went along with the name Thunda because we thought it was a good, marketable name,” he said. 

‘‘It’s just not associated with Aboriginal culture... It means no insult.’’

The majority of councillors voted in support of Cr Reilly’s motion.

However, Cr Kathy Rice criticised the move, and suggested a new name be sought. 

‘‘I think it is rather deceptive and a little bit arrogant to now say that we don’t think the name has any relationship to Aboriginal culture when that was strongly argued to begin with, and I think we’re being really inconsistent,’’ she said.

Cr Gavin McClure said the proposal could be a catchy catchphrase, “so that when people come to this town it gives them a little bit more to do”.

He said the name could also be taken as the sound of the blasting of the quarry.

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