Batman Bridge name concerns native Australians

Batman Bridge.
Batman Bridge.

There is no push to change the name of Northern Tasmania’s Batman Bridge, despite modern scholars questioning the legacy of John Batman.

Batman, who founded Melbourne, long had a reputation of being sympathetic and compassionate to Indigenous people.

His involvement in the murder of Aboriginals during Tasmania’s Black War has recently been raised.

He was described in Rohan Wilson’s 2011 novel, The Roving Party, as a man sent to hunt down Aborigines during the early 1800s.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Launceston manager, Lisa Coulson, said the Batman Bridge celebrated a man involved in the disposition of Indigenous people. 

“It is of concern to the Aboriginal community,” she said. 

West Tamar mayor Christina Holmdahl said any name change was not a push the council would lead.

She said no concerns from the community had been raised with her.

“I don’t think it’s a discussion council would instigate,” she said. 

“If there was a community view about it, we as a council would listen to that view.”

Batman Bridge is owned by the Department of State Growth. 

Aboriginal history and naming of places have been thrust into the spotlight across Australia after the vandalism of settlement statues in Sydney and the abolition of locations containing the N-word in Queensland.

A discussion about its future comes as the Nomenclature Board elected to defer a decision on changing the name of N-----head Rock on Tasmania’s North-West Coast.  

At a meeting on Thursday, the board considered 11 Aboriginal and dual names, including replacement names.

The board resolved to defer a decision on the nominations to enable further consultation with Aboriginal organisations after finalisation of the review of the government’s Aboriginal and Dual Naming Policy.

 “Separately, the board noted recent decisions interstate to replace offensive names,” a spokesman said of the Queensland Government’s decision.

“The board supports the replacement of similarly offensive names in Tasmania.”