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First Nation names for spiritual landmarks officially recognised at last

Albert McKnight2 December 2021
Bermagui Harbour with Gulaga looking on. Source: Sapphire Coast Tourism

Gulaga, also known as Mount Dromedary, pictured from Bermagui Harbour. Photo: Sapphire Coast Tourism.

With the traditional names used for thousands of years for several spiritual landmarks on the Far South Coast now officially recognised by the NSW Government, it is hoped the whole community will call them by their “real names”.

The Geographical Names Board has officially assigned the dual names of Gulaga for Mount Dromedary, Biamanga for Mumbulla Mountain, Barunguba for Montague Island and Najanuka for Little Dromedary Mountain.

While the names from the region’s First Nations people will now equally sit alongside the European names from the government’s perspective, Gulaga National Park Board of Management chair Roslyn Field said these spiritual places should be known by their Yuin name.

“Gulaga, mother mountain, has two sons – the eldest is Barunguba also known as Montague Island,” she said.

“Najanuka, known as Little Dromedary is her second son, but he wasn’t allowed to leave far from home like his older brother.

“Gulaga from way up the top can always see her sons in the distance and now the whole community will know them and call them by their real names.”


READ ALSO: Captain Cook’s impact on Yuin Nation revealed in short film Yuwinj Dhari-Bulwal


Bunja Smith, chair of the Biamanga National Park Board of Management, said dual naming was one way to share culture with the broader community.

“We’re trying to elevate the status of these places by naming them with their first name, not their last name,” he said.

Kane Weeks from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) said names convey the significance, sense of history and identity of a place.

“Dual naming these places not only helps to preserve Aboriginal language but also acknowledges the continuous connection to these cultural sites,” he said.

Both names have equal status and are considered official names. Signs, maps and directories will feature both names and NPWS will update signage in the region.

The move comes after community feedback was sought on the proposals from the NPWS earlier this year, with the names put forward by the Gulaga and Biamanga Joint Management Boards.

The gazettal of these dual names is separate from the process of renaming Ben Boyd National Park, near Eden, which is underway.

Local First Nations communities asked to rename the 8900-hectare national park due to Ben Boyd’s association with ‘blackbirding’, a practice that involved the coercion of people through deception or kidnapping to work as slaves or poorly paid labourers.

“NPWS has begun contacting stakeholders to seek their input on the best way to choose a new name for Ben Boyd National Park. This process will take time and will not be rushed,” a NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment spokesperson said.

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One Response to First Nation names for spiritual landmarks officially recognised at last

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Andrea Charlton Andrea Charlton 2:42 pm 02 Dec 21

I thoroughly approve of this move, and I’ll use both names together from now on. Could I have some help with the pronunciation please? I’d love to see more places with their traditional names.

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