Councillors asked to back Gurri Wanyarra, rename Bendigo aquatic centre in honour of Faith Leech

Bendigo councillors will next week be asked to approve Gurri Wanyarra as the name for a new Kangaroo Flat swimming complex and consider re-branding Bendigo’s existing aquatic centre after OIympic gold medallist Faith Leech.

The recommendation, to be put to council at next Wednesday’s meeting, follows a period of community consultation that saw 56 submissions opposed to the Indigenous name, which means kangaroo waterhole.

Just five submissions supported the name endorsed by council at its August 16 meeting.  

A 450-signature petition asking the complex be named after late swimmer Faith Leech was tabled at last month’s council meeting and formed part of the planners’ report.

Councillors will instead vote on whether renaming the Bendigo Aquatic Centre be considered as a way of honouring Ms Leech, Bendigo’s first Olympic gold medallist. 

The idea was also suggested by one of the submissions received during the community consultation. 

A report to council in August indicated part of the Kangaroo Flat complex, like its learning pool, could be named after Ms Leech. Kangaroo Flat Community Enterprise committee member Geoff Bowyer last month called the suggestion “insulting”.  

The council also received a submission from the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, which said it would support an alternative name, if that was what councillors chose. 

The area around the aquatic centre could be renamed Gurri Wanyarra instead, the Dja Dja Wurrung submission read. 

A competition was held in June to name the $31 million Browning Street project, with a community reference group involved in shortlisting suggestions.