Jigamy’s turn

 MUCH TO SMILE ABOUT: Member for Bega Andrew Constance and Pastor Ossie Cruse
MUCH TO SMILE ABOUT: Member for Bega Andrew Constance and Pastor Ossie Cruse

A $1million ‘windfall’ has been found to fix the entrance to Jigamy Farm on the Princes Highway between Eden and Pambula.

The design for the highway intersection will be finalised in coming months with work scheduled to start in 2013.

The highway improvements are needed to enable safe bus access to the site, finally letting the site reach its full tourism potential.

Old mates, Member for Bega Andrew Constance and Jigamy’s Pastor Ossie Cruse, wore smiles a mile wide as Mr Constance made it official on Friday.

“I think it’s critical for the health of our community that Jigamy Farm is allowed to realise its full potential,” Mr Constance said.

“It’s important obviously to local Aboriginal people but more broadly it’s a facility which will provide enormous benefit for the wider community and tourism as an increasing number of services and cultural activities (can be) provided from there.”

The windfall is part of a $2million surplus identified from Bega Bypass planning, with Moruya benefiting from the other $1million.

Jigamy bends on the Princes Highway have long been an accident hot spot.

NRMA accident statistics compiled last year show that the stretch of road between Merimbula to Eden - which Jigamy bisects - is the worst on the Princes Highway with over 100 crashes in 10 years and nearly half of those involving injury or death.

Pastor Cruse presented a petition with over 800 signatories to Mr Constance in February of this year. The petition called on the state government to upgrade the road, including widening of the highway to accommodate turning lanes into Jigamy.

So news last Friday that the NSW Government had ‘found’ $1million to fix the entrance to Jigamy, officially known as Monaroo Bobberer Gudu (or The Keeping Place), was certainly welcome.

“I’ve fought for this (for) 12 years alongside Ossie and he is someone I have enormous respect for,” Mr Constance said on Tuesday.

“He has an enormous heart and knows what’s required to get this place up to its full potential.”

Jigamy is the cultural centre for the local Aboriginal people of the Yuin and Thawa countries.

It’s home to the Eden Local Aboriginal Land Council and the nearby Twofold Aboriginal Corporation runs the Meals on Wheels program from Bega to Eden.

The centre itself is one of the largest venues on the Far South Coast with the potential to seat more than 400 people and an industrial kitchen to match. However safety issues and bus access in particular from the highway mean the centre’s potential has remained unrealised for over ten years.