Family wants change to honour Otways pioneers
A COLAC district resident is “insulted” her grandfather and father’s legacy now bears the name of a paedophile convicted in 1893.
Barwon Downs resident Jennifer Cunnington, nee Curtis, wrote to the Colac Otway Shire Council asking the council to change the name of Forrest’s Malhoff Road to Curtis Road, after her father George Curtis who built the road at his own expense.
The council named the road Malhoff Road in 2010 after Charles Malhoff, a Yaugher resident convicted of incest with his daughter, aged between 10 and 12 years old, who received a five-year sentence in May 1893.
Mrs Cunnington said Malhoff Road was an access road to the Curtis family home, and Charles Malhoff’s property was about a kilometre further up Yaugher Road.
She said she and her family were “greatly saddened and disappointed” when they discovered the access road to the Curtis homestead bore Malhoff’s name.
Forrest and District Historical Society president Ken Widdowson said naming the access road after Malhoff was disrespectful to the Curtis family.
“There’s a whole population of Curtis descendants that continue to play an important part in our community,” Mr Widdowson said.
He said Tom and George Curits were important people in Forrest’s history and Malhoff was a “minor player” at Forrest.
Mr Widdowson said the Forrest and District Historical Society wrote to the council about the issue but the council rejected any changes.
He said the society offered to pay $100 from its limited funds to assist with the cost of publishing the change of the road name.
Council general manager Mark Lyons replied to Ms Cunnington’s letter and said the council’s Road Naming Project Advisory Committee recommended the name “Malhoff Road” to the council in 2008.
The council named about 200 minor roads in the shire in 2010, after a consultation process that started in 2008.
Mr Lyons said Malhoff had anhistorical connection to the land and was an appropriate name, but the council would consider Curtis for other roads or features when the opportunity arose.
Mr Widdowson said he urged the council to reconsider changing Malhoff Road to Curtis Road, to pay tribute to early Forrest pioneers.