The Gunnedah road-over-rail bridge finally has been officially named – more than three years after it was opened to traffic – but not everyone is pleased with the final result.

The bridge signs on both approaches to the new overpass read ‘Reginald Talbot – Dr (Doc) Anderson Bridge’ and are accompanied by an indigenous art design.

Names were selected following an exhaustive consultation process several years earlier.

The final design and name positioning has drawn criticism from some in the community – in part for not including Anderson’s first name, Colin, and causing confusion with other similar names.

Dr Colin ‘Doc’ Anderson was a well-known doctor in the Gunnedah community in the early 20th century who also served on the battlefields of Europe during World War I.

Others also claimed Reginald’s last name is misspelt on the sign.

Reginald Talbot was a Gamilaraay Elder, traditional custodian of the area and founding member of the Red Chief Aboriginal Lands Council.

After the bridge signs were quietly installed late last month, the commentary has flowed thick and fast on community forums.

Some supported the new addition with comments such as “love it” and “well chosen” and “congratulations, both well respected gentlemen”.

Others were less enthusiastic, stating: “that needs to be fixed to show Dr Anderson the respect with his full name”.

The bridge name has been a long-time coming for the Gunnedah community.

After opening to traffic in November 2020, the bridge was heralded as a win for improved road safety and freight connectivity in Gunnedah.

The bridge naming process was spearheaded by Transport for NSW, which consulted with Gunnedah Shire Council and the local community about name suggestions.

A summary of 232 suggested names from the public was published in 2021.

Some people who made submissions suggested more than one name; others did not put forward a specific name but suggested a theme.

A variety of Aboriginal names were suggested – 48 in total – while a further 37 submissions were received for Dr Colin ‘Doc’ Anderson bridge or similar.

Gunnedah Shire Council reviewed the community submissions received during the consultation period and recommend the name ‘Reginald Talbot and Doc Anderson Bridge’ to Transport for NSW approval.

More than a year passed and still the community was no closer to discovering what name the bridge would have.

Some Gunnedah residents even resorted to calling their own names such as the “West End Bridge” and “The Big Overpass”.

The Gunnedah Times enquired on several occasions about the delay and was told in May 2023 the wait was due to a disagreement on the final wording of the bridge name.

“Following Gunnedah Shire Council’s vote on the names, Transport for NSW consulted with local stakeholders, but could not reach a consensus on the name selected,” a Transport for NSW spokesperson said in May.

“As such, Transport for NSW is in the process of working with council and the local community to select a name that will be suitable for all stakeholders.”

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