The Warjaja Bridge over the Wilton River and the Yurlhbunji Bridge over the Roper river were both opened today with officials from State and Federal Governments, and the local communities of Ngukurr and Urapunga.
The opening was held at the Yurlhbunji bridge over the Roper River. A smoking ceremony was held first to bless the bridges, before the official ribbon was cut, and speeches were made by Traditional Owners, and officials.
The names were chosen by the Traditional Owners with assistance from the Ngukurr Language Centre. For further advice on their meanings:
One interesting factor is the large proportion of names (throughout the Roper) that have either no translation, or are not entirely analysable in any of the languages now spoken in the area. I have suggested that in some cases these names point to the presence of earlier languages, such as Yukgul and Warndarrang. In many other cases, these names bear no resemblance to any of the commonly found morphological patterns for toponyms in the area. There remain a significant number of names that are only partially analysable, pointing to a long continuity of occupation for the language groups now found in the Roper.
Extract from “I’m going to where-her-brisket-is: Placenames in the Roper“, by Brett Baker, page 128.
The bridges represent a huge opportunity for Ngukurr and the surrounding communities, which were cut-off last year for 6 months during a big wet. Road infrastructure is important as it reduces costs associated with getting in and out for medical care, transporting goods into community, and allowing services to be provided all-year round.