Building Bridges (Not…)

First proposed in 1988, construction of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge at Goolwa was opposed by Ngarrindjeri women who had concerns about the spiritual and cultural significance of the site. A series of court battles ensued, pitting Aboriginal beliefs against development, culminating in a royal commission (1995) that ruled that the claims of Aboriginal 'secret women's business' were fabricated. Further court appeals were launched, and in August 2001 the Federal Court overturned the royal commission, finding the Ngarrindjeri claims to be legitimate. Unfortunately, this vindication came five months after the bridge was officially opened. The decade-long furore was a step backwards for reconciliation; the bridge remains a source of contention.