'Disappointed' Faith Leech supporters accept name Gurri Wanyarra, question council's willingness to listen

Those hoping to name a Kangaroo Flat pool in honour of Olympic champion Faith Leech say they are disappointed in a recommendation to council another name be chosen. 

But Kangaroo Flat Community Enterprise director Jack Lyons has said his organisation would respect a council decision to endorse Gurri Wanyarra. 

Council will vote on Wendesday to persevere with the Indigenous name, which means kangaroo waterhole, and instead consider calling the Bendigo Aquatic Centre in honour of Ms Leech, the city’s first Olympic gold medallist.  

Related: Push on with Indigenous pool name: recommendation

It was, however, a decision contrary to the view of most ratepayers, Mr Lyons said. 

More than 50 submissions advocating the Browning Street site bear Ms Leech’s name were received after councillors provisionally endorsed Gurri Wanyarra in August. 

A 450-signature petition was also submitted in support of the name Faith Leech.  

Mr Lyons said the late woman’s name was attached to the project for about six years and there was “never a peep or a word of dissent about it” until a naming competition concluded in June.

He supported using the name Gurri Wanyarra for the precinct in which the facility was being built.

“We recognise the significance of the land we're on, and thank them (the Dja Dja Wurrung) for allowing it,” Mr Lyons said. 

“But a new facility should be named after a new, modern name.” 

Ms Leech’s son, Adam Tuohy, said giving his mother’s name to Kangaroo Flat facility would be “a good fit”.

“When we were approached by the KFCE to name the pool after mum, we were very pleased that her achievements in swimming were going to be recognised and honoured so Bendigonians could be proud of her success in the pool,” Mr Tuohy said. 

While he welcomed the offer to rename the Barnard Street pool after his mother, Mr Tuohy said popular sentiment was clear: community members wanted the Kangaroo Flat facility named in her honour. 

Mr Lyons hoped accepting the council recommendation would spare Ms Leech’s family embarrassment.