Pumphreys Bridge is one of eight priority sites on the Hotham and Williams Rivers, which were chosen for river restoration activities recommended in the recently completed River Action Plan (RAP) (Urbaqua, 2020). PHCC is currently seeking funding to move from planning to on-ground implementation, and this site is planned to be one of the first. Koompkinning is the Noongar name for the area, meaning ‘plenty of water’.
Pumphreys Bridge is located on the Hotham River where it intersects the Wandering-Narrogin Road. The reach of the River that was assessed during the development of the RAP extends 3.5km on either side of the bridge on the main road and includes the ‘Old Bridge’ that is the focal area for recreational use both now and historically. The location consists of an informal campground and picnic area and is immediately adjacent to the Pumphreys Bridge CWA hall, cricket pavilion and sporting oval that is now used for overflow camping.
Sometimes there are places that have a magnetic force through time that continually draws people from different eras and cultures. Pumphreys Bridge is one of those places and it has a long history of bringing people together, including local Noongar families, pioneering families and subsequent generations. The River is the magnet, and old stories and photos speak of large gatherings for swimming, fishing, washing, drinking, and nearby camping and picnics.
Stories from Uncle Mervyn Abraham are featured in Koompkinning – The Pumphreys Bridge Story created by Wheatbelt NRM. He remembers families living near the River, and a Corroboree ground that was a gathering place with Noongars from other areas. He also remembers that the water was fresh and you could drink it and bathe in it (Wheatbelt NRM, 2015).
We aim to honour the history and restore the project site at Pumphreys Bridge so that the natural river environment is reinstated and the River is protected. The continued interaction of people with the River will be encouraged through proposed formal points of access for swimming, paddling and other activities. Partnership activities with the Shire of Wandering will also ensure that opportunities to upgrade the camp/picnic area will be included in the process of planning and seeking funding for implementation.
The local community will have an opportunity to provide input to site restoration plans during May when a series of information sessions for each of the eight sites will be held in local venues. In addition to Pumphreys Bridge, the other project sites are Yornaning Dam creeklines, Popanyinning, Hotham River Nature Reserve and Ranford Pool on the Hotham River; and Williams town site, Boraning and Quindanning on the Williams River.
This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from Newmont Australia.