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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Travelling the Wathaurong Way?

Geelong City Hall
On 24 September, the City of Greater Geelong council decided to fly the Aboriginal flag alongside the Australian flag over City Hall.

This decision follows the state government's decision in May to rename the 4.5m arterial link (formerly known as '4C') in Armstrong Creek Baanip Boulevard. The name honours local Aboriginal man Willem Baanip, a Wathaurong man who was born in 1836 near what is now Market Square,  lived on the Duneed Aboriginal Land Reserve near to the current Ghazeepore Road and died in 1885. The newly named road will link the Geelong Ring Road and the Surf Coast Highway. VicRoads expects to start work on the new road in late 2013 and finish it in 2016.

Many communities are taking similar actions to recognise their Aboriginal heritage; and this is happening as Australia prepares for a referendum on a proposal to recognise Australia’s Aboriginal peoples formally in the country’s Constitution.

A local act of recognition
Drysdale and Clifton Springs continue to be enriched by the culture of today’s Wathaurong people, which goes back thousands of years. In the lead-up to the Constitutional Recognition referendum, we could consider making our own formal recognition of the area’s Aboriginal people and heritage. One suggestion made to DCSCA is that we ask people on the north Bellarine how they would feel about renaming the Portarlington Road as Wathaurong Way.

Communities often name roads after local dynasties - Drysdale and Clifton Springs have several examples. How appropriate, then, to name Portarlington Road after the area’s longest-standing ‘dynasty’ – the Wathaurong people. To make the re-naming a real act of community recognition, it needs support from across the community. DCSCA invites local people to start conversations in the area about the proposal and to tell us your views.

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