Hindmarsh Island - History - The Hindmarsh Island Bridge

The Hindmarsh Island Bridge

March 4, 2001 saw the official opening of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge linking the island to Goolwa. The bridge became a focus of national controversy when a group of local Indigenous people (the Ngarrindjeri) and some landowners objected to its construction. It was alleged that the Ngarrindjeri objectors fabricated the cultural significance of the island (the Secret Women's Business) in order to help fight the development.

A later Royal Commission decided that the Secret Women's Business was made up. Construction was blocked by the Keating Government but given the go-ahead by the Howard Government in 1996 (for more information, see Hindmarsh Island bridge controversy).

Five years after the Royal Commission findings, the Ngarrindjeri who had stated the bridge desecrated sites sacred to women were vindicated. The Reasons for Decision by Federal Court Judge, Mr Justice John von Doussa, FCA 1106 (21 August 2001)] explain, "the evidence received by the Court on this topic is significantly different to that which was before the Royal Commission. Upon the evidence before this Court I am not satisfied that the restricted women's knowledge was fabricated or that it was not part of genuine Aboriginal tradition' (paragraph 12). Further Justice von Doussa found the nine Ngarrindjeri women who testified about their beliefs to be 'credible witnesses who genuinely hold the beliefs and recollections expressed by them' (paragraph 317).

Read more about this topic:  Hindmarsh Island, History

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