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Byron Shire
May 15, 2021

Arakwal totems feature on new community bus

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Born in Byron 90 years ago, Ruth Speers is about to board the Tweed Byron and Ballina Community Transport bus, beautifully painted by Indigenous artist Sean Kay. Photo Jeff Dawson

Tweed Byron and Ballina Community Transport (TBBCT) is has introduced an eye-catching new bus to its Byron fleet.

CEO Phil Barron said, ‘We are the proud owners of three buses covered in unique Indigenous designs – one in Tweed, one in Ballina and now one in Byron Shire. It reflects both our respect for Aboriginal culture and commitment to providing transport services to the Aboriginal community’.

Artwork for the Byron bus was created by local artist Sean Kay.

Each of the four brightly coloured paintings has cultural significance. In creating the pieces, Sean drew on the ‘special dreaming vibe’ of the Byron area, which he says has a strong spirituality.

The sea eagle is the coastal men’s totem. The men would follow him up and down the coast, as the sea eagle’s flight path marked places where the fish were.

The dolphin is the women’s totem; it’s locally celebrated for being a teacher and a hunter. Dreamtime stories tell of dolphins working together with people to round up fish and bring them into shore for easy catching and a good feed. The goanna (numal) and carpet snake (cubal) were both great sources of bush tucker for Bundjaulung people and helped to keep them strong.

Sean says doing the artwork connected him to his culture, identity and past. ‘It brings out the best in me an Aboriginal man, to represent my culture and people. Connecting with my roots helps me understand where I’m going.’

Sean says he hopes people seeing the bus will find it a good cultural experience for all communities.

The bus wraps were funded by Transport for NSW.

TBBCT is available to support people over 65 years, or over 50 if they are Aboriginal, and others who have difficulty accessing mainstream transport options. It is also a registered provider with the NDIS.

Community transport can get you to the doctor, specialist or other appointments, as well as regular shopping bus services and group social outings. To find out more call 1300 875 895.

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