INDIGENOUS artist Richard Campbell has produced a very long painting to support the Dangghati Language Group’s (DLG) bid to name the new Macleay floodplain bridge.
The group wants the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) to name the bridge ‘Yapang gurraarrbang gayandugayigu’, which translates in English to 'Very long track to the other side’.
Mr Campbell was asked by DLG teacher Caroline Bradshaw if he would create his vision for the bridge on canvas.
“It’s great to be involved with the longest bridge in Australia, which stands on Dhungutti land,” the artist said.
“I told Caroline I’d get into straight away, but I’d have to get a bigger canvas.”
Just one week later, Mr Campbell’s intricate and colourful painting was completed.
“I’m very proud of it,” Ms Bradshaw said.
“It’s a beautiful painting, I like the colours.
“It incorporates the Dhungutti totem, the praying mantis, and the tracks (of the road), the roundabouts and shows the area was a hunting site.
“I see the praying mantis everywhere I go, in Australia and overseas. He always seems to be there.
“He reminds me my elders are watching over me.”
Mr Campbell said the work represented the Macleay River and the bridge crossing the river at the Lower Macleay, where the freshwater turned into saltwater.
“The white dots represent our elders and spirits, who look after the place where we live and who will look after the bridge and hopefully the traffic flow,” he said.
“The black dots represent the Dhungutti people, the orange dots represent the other people of many cultures that live here.
“The footprints symbolise the cars coming to visit Kempsey and Frederickton.
“The spear represents the men, the hunters, and the digging sticks represent the women, the gatherers.
“The brown in the river reflects the floods.”
CAROLINE Bradshaw hopes the name submitted by the DLG will be adopted, because it is for everyone.
Yapang gurraarrbang gayandugayigu came about as the result of a conversation during a lesson about what the bridge would be called in the native tongue.
It is pronounced “YAH pan GOOR a bang GUY and uh GAH goo”.
Ms Bradshaw said the introduction of the Dhanggati language into local primary and high schools had been terrific for indigenous and non-indigenous children.
“It has brought a lot of respect for our culture among our (Aboriginal) kids,” she said.
“Our culture is about respecting and sharing and a lot of that has been lost.
“Many of our kids don’t have respect for our elders and culture and that’s a loss to the wider community.
“Learning the language will help restore our culture and our pride.”
Ms Bradshaw said the group’s submission had received a lot of support, including from the Macleay Coast Tourism Association and the Slim Dusty Centre.