Council revises Valley View street names after community submissions

The Cowra Shire Council
The Cowra Shire Council

The Cowra Council has gone back to past street naming plans after receiving community feedback for proposed names in the Valley View Estate subdivision that alleged a lack of respect for how the council dealt with Indigenous land the estate is built upon.

By reverting to an earlier plan going back to 2003 documents for the Valley View Estate, the council abandoned all four names put forward at the end of summer.

The documents suggested streets be named after "prominent cities of the world... in keeping with Cowra's theme of International Understanding."

Tokyo Terrace - a last minute suggestion by Cr Ray Walsh - and Seoul Street will be the two names put forward for public exhibition.

The council put out the names Gulbarra Street, Baamany Street, Yindyamarra Way and Wambuwuny Way for public display after their meeting on February 25, hoping to acknowledge the land's Indigenous heritage as part of the estate.

However, in feedback submitted between that meeting and the closing submission date of March 26, it has become clear that several in the community didn't believe two of the names were appropriate.

Multiple letters written by Wiradjuri people have expressed dismay at the choice of words - "Gulbarra" and "Yindyamarra" respectively are aligned with the terms understanding and respect - taken by the council, based on past decisions made about the land.

"Your council went ahead with the housing development of this area, against the Traditional owners and Wiradjuri communities' wishes," one such letter stated, adding that the area was the home to seven sacred Scar Trees that were several hundred years old.

"The area has been desecrated by your council, which is why I believe that naming the streets Yindyamarra and Gulbarra would be a complete insult to that area."

The council, responding to this and other letters, stated in their agenda that they didn't believe these complaints recognised their "subsequent efforts to improve consultation with the traditional owners."

Speaking at this month's meeting, Mayor Bill West said that negotiations were underway with the Indigenous community to have Scar trees on display, in what he termed as an "appropriate" way, and believed the Council's approach to naming the streets was misunderstood.

"I think it was the exact opposite, the Council was looking to be respectful and to engage our community," he said.

"Our intentions were probably misunderstood by some people."

The council received 12 submissions in total, ranging from suggestions that the land in question isn't actually Wiradjuri land to alternative street name suggestions.

Two submissions from people with interest in the land complained about the difficulty of pronouncing some of the originally suggested words, with one particular claim about the "practical safety issue" posed by the four Indigenous words rejected as "alarmist" by the council.

"In today's multicultural world, our community can be credited with sufficient ability to comprehend road names with more than two syllables," the council's submission response summary read with regards to complaints about pronunciation.