Call for Bussell Highway to have dual-name after Aboriginal hero Sam Isaacs

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times
Robert Isaacs & Theresa Isaacs
Camera IconRobert Isaacs & Theresa Isaacs Credit: John Koh.

Senior Aboriginal elder and former West Australian of the year Robert Isaacs has called for Bussell Highway to be renamed, or dual-named, to recognise his great-grandfather Sam Isaacs.

Sam Isaacs helped save 54 people from the sinking SS Georgette in 1876 with the help of 16-year-old Grace Bussell.

The calls come on the 100th anniversary of Sam Isaacs’ death and his great-grandson said although Gracetown and Lake Grace were named after Grace Bussell, there was no landmark recognition of Isaacs.

Mr Isaacs argued for a combination name of Bussell-Isaacs Highway and argued plaques and recognition signs should be in prominent areas.

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“This has been going on for some time; there has been discussions over decades for recognition of our unsung heroes,” he said.

“Great-grandfather deserves much better recognition with what he was able to do, he did the bulk of the rescue and Grace Bussell, as I understand, was only on the shores and was able to comfort people once Sam had brought the survivors to the beach.”

He said the Undalup Association would write to Minister for Transport and Planning Rita Saffioti and the Bunbury, Busselton and Augusta Margaret River councils for support.

A settling in period will be needed as trucks as well as hoon drivers embrace the perimeter road.
Camera IconA settling in period will be needed as trucks as well as hoon drivers embrace the perimeter road. Credit: Warren Hately

“We seem to always get rejected and we’re sick and tired of big brother thinking they understand Aboriginal ways — they don’t.

“Great-grandfather’s story is important history to all Aboriginal people and Aboriginal people who have served the community are not getting the recognition they deserve.”

A spokesperson for the transport minister said the Government had not been formally approached with a request to change the name of Bussell Highway.

“If a request to change the name of a road was received there are a number of factors that would be taken into account, in particular community consultation,” the spokesperson said.

Wardandi elder Bill Webb said more recognition of Indigenous heroes and acknowledgement of country in naming landmarks and locations was needed in the South West.

Members of the Bussell family, including Vernon Bussell, said they would not support a name change, noting Sam Isaacs had been recognised with plaques at locations such as Redgate Beach and at his Busselton grave site.

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