Bundjalung Arakwal elder leaves lasting legacy

Bundjalung Arakwal elder Linda Vidler is pictured with former Premier of New South Wales Morris Iemma at the Cape Byron Lighthouse in February 2007 for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement celebration.
Bundjalung Arakwal elder Linda Vidler is pictured with former Premier of New South Wales Morris Iemma at the Cape Byron Lighthouse in February 2007 for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement celebration.
Right up until her death last Thursday, Bundjalung Arakwal elder Linda Vidler was still attending meetings and interviews, pushing for the recognition of Aboriginal people in Byron Bay and beyond.

Mrs Vidler, aged 70, died in hospital in Brisbane after a battle with heart disease.

“Mum was always trying to make the lives of her people better,” Arakwal spokesperson Yvonne Stewart said.

“She loved her family and the wider community and she was ‘mum’ to so many people, black and white.

“She would never turn anyone away, she loved everybody and she was respected by everybody.”

Mrs Vidler was born in Byron Bay on August 13, 1938 and lived in the town all her life.

She attended school at Byron Bay and Cabbage Tree Island.

She was married to Gordon Vidler (deceased) for 40 years and she raised five children – Mick Kay, Yvonne Stewart, Danza Vidler, Delta Kay and Sean Kay.

Mrs Vidler also raised her two grandsons, Jirrah and Ricky, and lots of nephews.

She lived life to the fullest, loved to fish and visit family.

Mrs Vidler worked for decades to achieve native title and recognition for the Bundjalung (Arakwal) people of Byron Bay.

She and her sisters were instrumental in the Cape Byron Trust Agreement; the Arakwal Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) and two Bundjalung of Byron Bay ILUAs.

Mrs Vidler was also a very active member on the Arakwal National Park Management Committee and the Cape Byron Trust.

“Mum will leave a great legacy for generations to come, she was a very well-respected leader,” Yvonne said.

“The family would like to thank everyone who has helped mum or been a friend to mum in her struggle to get native title.

“We are very proud of her.”

‘Sad day’
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) area manager Sue Walker said the passing of Linda Vidler was a sad day for the Arakwal people and the Byron Bay community.

“Through the great sadness of her passing, Linda’s momentous achievements for Aboriginal people and the Byron Bay community shine bright and will always be respected,” she said.

“Throughout the ILUA process Linda was very keen to ensure that part of the Arakwal success was shared with rest of the community which resulted in part of their newly-recognised land being offered back to the community as Arakwal National Park.

“This was the first national park in Australia created through a native title process and recognised internationally as an effective model to resolve native title claims as honoured by an award from the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

“We also acknowledge all her work to have Aboriginal training and employment, and her people connected to ‘Country’ for their well-being and future prosperity.”

Byron Mayor Cr Jan Barham said the loss  was sad, but her life’s achievements were respected and celebrated.

 “The long struggle for Native Title recognition delivered jobs, training, cultural and economic outcomes for Aboriginal people,” she said.

“For the community the tireless work of Linda and the Arakwal People has delivered the protection of significant coastal lands in the Arakwal National Park and the new library site for Byron Bay.

 “On a personal level, I worked with Linda for over a decade and will miss her determination and commitment.”

Greens MLC Ian Cohen said it had been an honour to know Bundjalung Arakwal elder Linda Vidler.

“Her participation on cultural and environmental issues has been instrumental in bequeathing to her future generations the opportunity to work on country,” he said.

“Linda’s legacy of the formation of the Arakwal National Parkas a gift to us all.

“Linda will continue as the spirit of Byron.”

A funeral service for Mrs Vidler will be held at the Byron Bay Surf Club on Friday at 2pm.

Everyone is welcome.

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