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Around 200 residents of Coutts Crossing had their say at a public meeting held last week, voting to keep the name of their village. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Coutts residents say no to change

Lynne Mowbray |

Residents of Coutts Crossing have had their say regarding the proposed name change of their village, at a public meeting held last week.

The village of Coutts Crossing was named after an early settler Thomas Coutts, who lived at Kangaroo Creek in the 1840’s.

During National Reconciliation Week, which was held 27 May – 3 June, the question was raised as to the whether the village name should be changed; Coutts is believed to have poisoned 23 Aboriginal people, at Kangaroo Creek back in 1847.

Around 200 people attended the public meeting which was held at the Coutts Crossing Hall last Wednesday night (27 June), with several people taking the opportunity to speak; both for and against the name change.
One of the speakers, Coutts Crossing resident Teddy Bowles (who is about to turn 80), has lived here all of her life.

Mrs Bowles said that over the years the community have stuck together and worked hard to make the village what it is today.

“I told the meeting (on Wednesday night) about some of the local history, that I know,” Mrs Bowles said.
“My father was an ANZAC, I was the youngest of six girls and I live in Lower Kangaroo Creek – that’s Burrigan country – Billy Boney country. Billy Boney was known as the King of the Clarence Aboriginal’s.
“He taught my eldest sisters (and other kids) how to catch wallabies and cook wallaby and kangaroo tail stew. He taught them how to catch mulligrubs and taught them how to swim and how to fish.
“He and his wife Lizzie, lived in the Burrigan reserve just near my house, which I still live in and is now 140 years old.
“Billy Boney used to come from the other side of the river with his tribe and come through Coutts and go up to the Burrigan Reserve.
“Growing up, we had a really good relationship the Aboriginal’s and with Billy Boney.
“I said at the meeting, that if Coutts Crossing was good enough for Billy Boney, it was good enough for everyone else.
“We can’t fix yesterdays mistakes, but we can make tomorrow a better place,” she said.

The outcome of the public meeting saw the Coutts Crossing residents overwhelming vote to retain the town’s name.

The tally of votes saw 183 votes against a name change and 13 in favour of a change.

At the time of going to print, The Independent was awaiting a comment on the issue from the Grafton Ngerrie Aboriginal Land Council, South Grafton.

It is believed that the Ngerrie Aboriginal Land Council board was meeting on Tuesday night (July 3), where the matter would possibly be discussed.