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Byron Shire
January 19, 2022

Bob Bellear’s life recognised

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Australia’s first Indigenous judge to be appointed to the District Court of NSW grew up in Billinudgel.
Image of Bob’s portrait by Leo Fuller Quin supplied.

An inspirational Indigenous leader who grew up in the area has been immortalised, with the North Ocean Shores sportsfield being officially recognised as the Bob Bellear Sports Ground.

Council staff say the NSW Geographical Names Board approved the new name after it was put forward by Council.

Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson said the board’s decision recognises Bellear’s contribution not only to the local area, but to the nation.

The mayor said Bellear was an accomplished rugby player who represented Mullum High School and the Australian Navy representative team.

‘Bob Bellear was an inspirational leader, establishing the Aboriginal Housing Company in Sydney in 1972 and was a director of the Aboriginal Medical Service and the Aboriginal Legal Service.

‘He was appointed Counsel Assisting to the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1987 and was the first Aboriginal person to be appointed a judge to any court in Australia in 1996.’ 

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  1. Hi Echo Team,
    What a great tribute to an extraordinary man. I remember Bob well, he sometimes slept on our veranda couch at Argyle St Mullum, as he was very close friends with my older brother Brian Walker of Federal Rd FEDERAL. Both my brother and Bob were Navy guys as was I. Bob and Brian (same age) were Marine Engineers (Stokers). I was close friends with Bob’s younger brother Solly. Others in the family included Terry, Russell, Joan et al. The Bellears lived on the old Pacific H’way at Tyagarah, 90deg R/H bend northbound just before you drove up over the railway tracks. Then they lived in Mullum just over the bridge on the left towards the showground.
    Just to digress, re: ROCKWIZ, 1st concert ever went to? Mine was Jimmy Little at the Mullum Civic Hall, circa 1964. I was with Solly Bellear ( who was about the biggest kid and black at Mullum High, I was the smallest and white. We were probably about 12yo at the time. What made the experience so great was we got into the gig FREE! We were both standing at the entry around start time, then this guy ushers us into the hall to a seat at the back, that guy was Jimmy Little.


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