Naming bid before council

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Councillors and community members are coming to grips with how to integrate the Margaret River with the town bearing its name.
Camera IconCouncillors and community members are coming to grips with how to integrate the Margaret River with the town bearing its name. Credit: Warren Hately

A draft report deferred at last week’s council meeting will propose a possible dual-naming of the Margaret River to recognise its role in Aboriginal heritage.

Two items — the Margaret River Precinct Plan and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s Walk and Off-Road Cycle Trails Strategy — were subject to community consultation in the past year.

Changes made after public feedback included a proposed undertaking to “include investigation of the process and consultation requirements for official dual-naming of the Margaret River”.

In the report, officers said the dual-naming “recognises the importance of the Margaret River for its cultural, social and environmental values, provides a sense of identity whilst incorporating traditional Noongar language and culture into everyday communication”. The report did not specify whether the established Wooditchup Bilya name would be chosen or if preferred alternatives could emerge through consultation.

The move coincides with a call this month from respected Aboriginal elder and former West Australian of the Year Robert Isaacs for Bussell Highway to be renamed to recognise Sam Isaacs’ role in the 1876 SS Georgette rescue.

The draft precinct report said the renaming proposal was considered due to the high levels of support shown by survey participants.

“The precinct and the river also hold important spiritual value for the Indigenous traditional owners of the Shire,” the report said.

The moves comes amid increased focus on preserving the region’s pre-colonial history alongside that of early settlers.

The Margaret River Precinct Plan focuses on “all major initiatives to be undertaken in the ... precinct area by the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River from 2020 to 2030”. The precinct includes Rotary Park, and also considers traffic and trail access issues.

The separate Walk and Off-Road Cycle Trails Strategy is a document to integrate and resolve access issues, including management of mountain bike users and recreational walkers “in response to growing demand”.

The Undalup Association did not respond to Times inquiries. The Shire said the items would return for council consideration in September after consultation with Margaret River Rotary.

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