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Byron Shire
May 17, 2021

Uki’s memorial rainbow bridge to be repainted

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The rainbow-coloured bridge at the northern entry to Uki.
The rainbow-coloured bridge at the northern entry to Uki.

Luis Feliu

Tweed Shire Council has decided to repaint a bridge at the entry to the village of Uki which had been painted in rainbow colours late last year by locals in memory of a youngster from the area who died at school a year before.

Last Thursday councillors, except for mayor Gary Bagnall and Warren Polglase (absent due to illness), voted for staff’s recommendation to stick to council’s policy on ‘zero tolerance to graffiti’ and repaint the handrails on the Smiths Creek bridge ‘as resources permit’.

The staff also recommended that the family of the nine-year-old boy be consulted on options for a suitable alternative memorial to all children from the district who have lost their lives ‘in accordance with existing policies’.

The move reversed a previous decision last November for council to take no action over the painting till the village residents association had been consulted, and for a report be brought back to council.

Last November, around 30 youngsters accompanied by parents from the Uki area painted the handrails in memory of the children’s classmate.

The group of painters were celebrating the first anniversary of the death of Marley Phoenix Morton Cross and when they learnt council rangers intended painting over their work the following day they made a plea to mayor Bagnall for the painting to be allowed to stay.

The painting had sparked some complaints and police had been called, prompting councillors to debate the issue the following day as a matter of urgency.

At the latest council meeting, Cr Barry Longland, who lives at Uki, moved the staff recommendation, saying the painting had caused division in the community and that an association survey had favoured a generic memorial to all children from the area who had died.

Cr Longland said that in his 15 years at Uki he could think of several children who had lost their lives.

Cr Michael Armstrong said he hoped the move to repaint the bridge and create a community memorial was not one of disrespect at the family’s loss but aimed at ‘something truly special’ to help every family in their grieving.

In previous debate on the issue Cr Bagnall said state government authorities had left in place a similar ‘rainbow bridge’ on the Pacific Highway in Byron shire at Tyagarah in memory of a young woman killed on her bike there some years ago, while Cr Polglase had argued the Uki bridge painting was against council policy on ‘graffiti’.

The painting celebration for Marley, who died after collapsing at the Aetaomah (Steiner) School at Terragon near Uki in November 2013 drew a crowd of onlookers and many thumbs-up from passing motorists, according to Marley’s mum, Raquel Morton.

Ms Morton had told Echonetdaily she couldn’t understand why people were offended or complained about the painting or memorials in general such as plaques and roadside crosses.

‘People hadn’t noticed that bridge before when it was a dull grey, now its so colourful and puts smiles on people’s faces. It is Uki after all,’ she said.

Uki local and council watcher Menkit Prince said the decision on Thursday to repaint the bridge showed a ‘callous disregard for the community’s wishes on a highly sensitive topic’.

Ms Prince said council had ‘disregarded’ the association survey which showed a majority of more than 70 per cent of locals wanting the rainbow coloured bridge to stay.

‘Why not keep it as is and add a plaque dedicating the Rainbow Bridge to all local children who have died?’ Ms Prince told Echonetdaily.

‘Council appears to be afraid that left as it is, it would set a precedent for other bridges to be painted in rainbow colours. So what? Does that necessarily make Uki another Nimbin?’ she said.


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  1. The dead child’s name was Marley Phoenix Morton Cross.
    That painting is a memorial to Marley
    A “repaint” is to paint again in exactly the same colours.
    it is a paint over, to paint is a different colour surely
    That railing was painted as a memorial to a dead child.
    It is a way of mourning to remember the spirit of the child and to help his friends heal from the passing of his body from this material world and his spirit into the spirit world.
    The rainbow in the spirit of the Uki region as the rainbow appears after or during rain when the sun beams through it separating the seven colours of white light.
    That painting is not graffiti.
    What is graffiti?
    Graffiti is art what some people don’t like.
    Art is graffiti what people do like.
    There is no difference.
    it is how you view the painting and the attitude you bring to the view.
    Subjectiveity decides what is what as the saying “Beauty is in th eye of the beholder” has been with us for many centuries and is from the 3rd century BC.

  2. This is a memorial to a child who died. It is not graffiti.
    Every time we pas that spot we remember that a child died there, just as we do when we pass the Rainbow Bridge on the Pacific Hwy where a beautiful young woman lost her live
    The MTA has never painted over that memorial in six years and Tweed Council should leave the Rainbow memorial bridge in Uki alone.
    It is a beautiful work of art.
    It shows a lack of respect to the grieving family and to the community that sponsored the work.

  3. I drove over this bridge today ,It caught my eye and i thought “”How Cool ” i love this area where things are happy and bright .Like someone said “Not dull and grey”” ! I did not know the reason for it being painted !! I do now and its even more cooler !! !! What a bunch of killjoy unhappy souls !! Cant you find something else to do and complain about !! Sad people in a happy place !!!

  4. Rainbowbridge
    It looks like a power trip of Tweed Shire Admin and a few Councillors. As a long serving art curator in Europe I can only shake my head about the definition used “it is graffiti”. It shows more the disqualification of the dissension making local body. It shows nothing more than disrespect of community. Who is kicked in the bum? Just the people of Uki.

  5. Leave the bridge alone. The rainbow is Beautifull and the money saved in repainting the bridge could be better spent, perhaps on the control of feral dogs that are attacking the regions Koala population?
    If the bridge is repainted it may encourage graffiti in the form of ” tagging “as elsewhere seen in the shire. A bit of common sense please, the rainbow is not hurting anyone, it is not offensive and it is not even a vote winner!

  6. The council is elected to work for the community and the vast majority of the community wants the bridge to remain colourful. Unfortunately we have elected old fashioned bureaucrats who can’t put one foot forward towards a progressive society. Australia is so far behind the rest of the world, whether it’s the support of CSG fracking, being slow on the uptake of solar power or the opposition to painting a dull bridge in beautiful colours. The fact that it was children who painted it this way is wonderful and would have lived in the memories of the children as a strong reminder of their friend. “I helped do that”, they would think every time they crossed this bridge. Why is it that at every turn we have to protest and fight the people we elected to make these decisions? It’s exhausting and upsetting that these little battles keep surfacing again and again. Power to the people.


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