Mildura shoppers and a number of Deakin Avenue workers are scratching their heads over the closure of the last pedestrian walkway access between Deakin Avenue and the Bowring’s lane, between 8th and 9th streets.
Late last month with the development and opening of an inner city Indulge Apartment Block, the laneway was closed with a locked gate at both ends.
It appears that the walkway which was a “halfway” link between Deakin Avenue and the laneway Is only accessible to people who stay in the apartments.
The laneway dates back to 1932 with the establishment of Etheringtons’ jewellers and Etherington’s Optometry.
The late Reg Etherington had come to Mildura to work for Horace Hammerton but following a dispute he bought into Wilson’s Jewellers shop while he continued his new interest in optometry rather than watchmaking.
His brother Jim Etherington came to Mildura in 1932 to manage the Jewellers shop.
The jewellers shop was accessed through a front doorway on Deakin Avenue and the entry to the optometrist was via a narrow laneway.
On the other side of the footpath laneway was a legal building which was established by Norm Joseph Favaloro and later it in the sixties became the officers for (John) Irwin and (Keith) Richards.
Side doors from the solicitor’s building also had access to the laneway.
In the 1930’s it was decided to protect the interests of both families that the laneway be placed in the public domain by both families releasing ownership of a small strip each.
This left the laneway as a public walkway in control of the local Council and maintaining access for future owners of both buildings.
The closure of the Etherington Jewellery business before Christmas (when it was moved into the Langtree Mall) has left the building vacant.
Irwin and Richards moved from 63 Deakin Avenue (which was occupied by legal firms for 68 years) to 61 Deakin Avenue, the former ES&A Bank building.
Mr Favaloro died in 1989 and Mr Etherington passed away in 2000.
The matter of a key card entry to the walkway has already raised with a number of Mildura Rural City Councillors, who are in the process of asking the City Planning Department as to how the public have lost possession of an access route which has been available to them since 1932.
Similar to adverse possession, there is a legality which is called the ‘rights of long users” where such access becomes public after 15 years.