Give Avon River its Ballardong name
I APPRECIATED last month’s letter from Nicole Coleman and I fully concur with her observations about the lack of indigenous representation and interpretation in Toodyay.
Certainly, our European history is there for all to see and celebrate.
Several years ago the Toodyay Friends of the River saw an opportunity to address this imbalance and created the Bilya (river) Walk Track.Read more
This popular 6km walk with its accompanying brochure and signage attempts to acknowledge the sacred nature of the river and associated waterways to the Noongar/Ballardong people.
The track takes in a number of significant sites including the beautiful Red Banks Pool.
Similarly, the Avon Valley Environmental Society has created a network of river walks in Northam called the Dorntj Koorliny (walking together) Track.
These formed paths connect to the Kep (fresh water) Track through to Mundaring where it joins the iconic Bibbulmun (local Noongar group) Track traversing nearly 1000km to Albany.
Part of the process of implementing these local projects has been extensive indigenous consultation.
Toodyay Friends of the River worked closely with Northam’s Elders and Toodyay’s indigenous representative, the late Pam Walsh.
Pam’s dream was to extend the Bilya Walk Track to the hockey field site to effectively connect the European pioneer cemetery at Nardie with the Aboriginal burial ground.
If realised this would open up important opportunities for memorials, public artwork and storytelling to create a powerful reconciliation project.
As we know our Avon River bears little resemblance to its English namesake with a geographic and cultural history that is poles apart.
Surely it is time to start using the Ballardong name for the river – Gulgulga Bilya.
This would be an enduring acknowledgment and also demonstrate that it is one river, not two (Swan and Avon) as the early explorers thought and many people still believe.
Toodyay Friends of the River will continue to seek ways to respectfully acknowledge the Noongar/Ballardong connection to this area.
Toodyay Friends of the River and
Toodyay Shire Reserve Management Officer