Koby Mitchell was a much-loved member of the skating fraternity in Coffs Harbour.
Koby Mitchell was a much-loved member of the skating fraternity in Coffs Harbour.

Tragedy sparks new phase of friendship for skate park

THE grieving family and friends of young Koby Mitchell have worked with the Indigenous community to come up with a Gumbaynggirr dual name for the Coffs Harbour Skatepark.

Gunganbu (pronounced; going-an-boo) means Friend Park which reflects what the park means to so many - a place where people of many walks of life come together to unite in skating and build unique and life long friendships.

The 19-year-old died in Jindabyne in July this year. He had recently moved to the area and went missing from a hotel at around 1am on Thursday, July 16.

His car was located locked and secured at a campground on the Alpine Way and three days later his body was located.

The mural in an alley way near the skate park and original photo of Koby Mitchell.
The mural in an alley way near the skate park and original photo of Koby Mitchell.

Koby was a keen skater and lifelong friend Charlotte Bennett-Hill kicked off a campaign to have the Coffs Harbour skatepark named in his honour.

As discussions with Coffs Harbour City Councillors and staff progressed, they decided to work with the Indigenous community to come up with an appropriate dual name for the park.

Coffs Harbour City Council Deputy Mayor Tegan Swan and Councillor Sally Townley met with friends and family and explained Council's dual naming policy.

"And I've been blown away with what they've come up with. I'm really proud of them for coming together to turn such a sad situation into a positive memory that will benefit the whole community and it has grown from remembering one person to remembering lots of people who have come before and incorporating cultural heritage and learning and bringing young people together in general," Cr Swan said.

Coffs Harbour Skate Park across from Coles.
Coffs Harbour Skate Park across from Coles.

She and Cr Townley have raised a motion to be considered at this week's Council meeting that the dual name be formally recognised.

A short phrase will also be displayed under the new title which reads 'maana gunganbu minggiiya (pronounced mah-na going-an-boo-ming-ghee-ya), translating to 'holding friends in the heart'.

The Coffs Harbour Skate Plaza Official Opening in 2014. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate
The Coffs Harbour Skate Plaza Official Opening in 2014. Photo: Rob Wright / The Coffs Coast Advocate

The names were determined in collaboration with the Muurrbay Language Centre in Nambucca.

Family and friends would also like to commission an Indigenous mural and make provision for temporary public art.

They are also seeking consideration of a skating festival and the provision of shade in the park as well as the incorporation of skating elements within the Brelsford Park Masterplan.


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