Letter to the editor: Business Advisory Council's road sign dual-naming policy recommendation a winner.

Boundary St signs in West End have been the target of activists upset by the constant reminder of Australia's segregationist history.
Boundary St signs in West End have been the target of activists upset by the constant reminder of Australia's segregationist history.

I was pleased to read of council's decision to accept the Business Advisory Committee's recommendation for a dual-naming policy when replacing road signs to add Gumbaynggirr words as well as the existing name in the article on page 2 of last week’sGuardian News: ‘Painting a picture of post-bypass health’.

I recommend that council start with Boundary St, Macksville.  

I do not know the history of how this "Boundary" street in Macksville came to be so-named but there was a common practice of white settlers barring Aborigines from crossing the boundaries of their settlements and many "Boundary" streets and roads around Australia reflect that history.

In Brisbane for example there has been discussion about renaming Boundary Street in the suburb of West End. 

It may not be possible to confirm whether or not Boundary St, Macksville, is part of that history but given that it lies across the southern entrance to Macksville the "Boundary" name is strongly suggestive of that history.

Rather than look for a Gumbaynggirr equivalent to be added to the name Boundary Street, council could discuss with the Gumbaynggirr community whether to abandon the name "Boundary" altogether and give the street a name of positive significance to the Gumbaynggirr community.

There is here an opportunity for the process of finding and adopting a new name to be a step in ongoing local acknowledgment and reconciliation.

In the same issue of the Guardian there was an article (‘A touch of Bowradise’ page 3) about the recent IGNITE MNC gathering at Bowraville to discuss regional development ideas. Earlier this year I attended the launch of the Gumbaynggir Dreaming Story Collection which followed on from the 2015 launch of the second edition of the Gumbaynggir Dictionary and Learner's Grammar. I was surprised to hear the story of how it has come to be that the Gumbaynggir language is one of the most intensively recorded and studied Aboriginal languages in Australia and to hear about the involvement of  schools in teaching and using the language and related cultural activities of dance and story-telling. 

There was a lot of good news at that event.  It seems to me that the strength of the Gumbaynggir language could be a very important part of the overall story of why this part of the Mid North Coast is not only a beautiful place to visit and holiday but is also—for businesses considering relocation or start-up—a community where good things are happening.

This area already has the advantage of sitting half-way between Brisbane and Sydney. If cruise ships start calling in to Coffs Harbour there is enormous potential for Aboriginal cultural tours.

Dr Gary Rumble