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Issue #1695      July 29, 2015

Long road to recognition

It’s taken 100 years, but the Winmar family in Western Australia say they have finally been given the recognition they deserve for their contribution to the Wheatbelt town of Quairading. The local council and the state government have renamed a local street Winmar Road.

Proud Winmar family members and supporters point to the new road sign in the Western Australian Wheatbelt town of Quairading.

It’s the first time a Noongar family has been given the honour in the town.

More than 50 family members turned up to a civic ceremony at the Shire of Quairading council for the official unveiling of the newly gazetted Winmar Road.

As the oldest family member living in town, Basil Winmar did the official honours, cutting the red ribbon. He was joined by local parliamentarian Mia Davies and Shire Freeman (an honorary title given for community service) Don Brown.

“I’m very happy for the government to recognise our Winmar family; my dad, brother, sister and I all worked for this shire,” Basil said. “My dad worked for them for more than 20 years. So did I.”

A delegation of Winmar family members has been lobbying the Shire of Quairading for more than two decades for some sort of local acknowledgement.

Many streets, parks and public facilities in Quairading bear the names of non-Indigenous farmers or townsfolk. The Winmars have always vehemently believed they deserved the same recognition.

The family said that the name Winmar comes from a Noongar name known as spirit hand (wiern marr). They traditionally hail from Mount Stirling, a prominent landmark in the heart of the wheatbelt. However, they have lived and worked in and around the town of Quairading ever since it was formed more than 100 years ago.

Generations of the Winmar family have served the region, either by clearing land, working the farms or serving the shire.

In 1910, Bill Winmar, Bernie McHenry and Richard Wilkes started working for the shire and were provided with three Native Welfare houses in town. They worked there until they retired.

In their submission for recognition to the government, the family stated they believe their family has made the largest contribution to any shire in WA.

In March this year, the Shire of Quairading received formal notification that the re-gazetting of a main road in town had been officially approved.

Decree

The decree said it was in recognition of the contribution of past Elders Bill, Bruce, Charlie and Fred Winmar.

The Winmar family, their friends and supporters in town all gathered outside the council offices, where the Aboriginal flag was raised and flew beside the Australian flag for the first time to cheers from the group.

Then it was off to the newly named road for more pomp and ceremony.

Basil’s sister Iris was so delighted when she first saw the street sign that she jumped for joy! “At long last we got recognition,” she said.

“I am so proud. Our parents and all our family members were hard-working people. We built this town.”

Winnie McHenry (nee Winmar) said it was a proud day for all.

“After 20 years, we finally got the road. Our father, his father before him, our two grandfathers they all worked on the shire, It’s about time we had recognition for our family,” she said.

Winnie herself worked for the Shire of Quairading for 20 years, as did her late husband.

Elder Richard Wilkes, who is related to the Winmars by marriage, says the suggestion that the Winmars be officially acknowledged in the town first came from the Noongar Progress Association 50 years ago.

That committee has since long gone, but the subsequent generations of the Winmar family never gave up their fight for recognition.

And now, at long last, they have it. Winmar Road.

Koori Mail

Next article – TAC issues warning

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