7 July 2023

Montague Island given dual name, Barunguba, honouring its cultural value

| Katrina Condie
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nature reserve

The dual-named Barunguba Montague Island Nature Reserve off Narooma. Photo: NPWS.

An iconic South Coast island nature reserve has been dual-named in recognition of its cultural significance.

The NSW Government has officially given Montague Island Nature Reserve an Aboriginal name, Barunguba, in honour of the cultural significance of the island to the Yuin people.

Barunguba Montague Island Nature Reserve, off Narooma, is valued as a significant ceremonial area and resource-gathering place.

The process of renaming Barunguba Montague Island Nature Reserve was initiated by the Aboriginal traditional owners to recognise the cultural heritage of the site, and Yuin elder Uncle Bunja Smith welcomed the announcement made by NSW Environment Minister Penny Sharpe this week.

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“From Mother Mountain Gulaga came the two sons, Najanuka and Barunguba. We know this because it is in our stories and our songs,” he said.

“As an Aboriginal man and a Yuin elder, I am filled with emotion to be standing here today with the ministers and our local member to hear the word ‘Barunguba’ sounded out as it should be!

“I know this will delight all our elders and tribespeople past, present and emerging.

“I pray that the spirit of this sacred place touches the hearts of the wider South Coast community and all visitors who may come. May we always say yes to reconciliation, as it always was and always will be Aboriginal land, Walawanni.”

In addition to its Aboriginal cultural values and state-listed European lighthouse heritage, the nature reserve protects several seabird species, including the endangered Gould’s petrel, one of the largest little (or fairy) penguin colonies in NSW, and Australian and New Zealand fur seals.

The island is recognised in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List of Protected Areas for its excellence in protected area management. Visitors can experience the island’s wildlife on a day trip or by staying in historic lighthouse accommodation.

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Minister Sharpe said the cultural significance of Barunguba (pronounced bar-an-goo-ba) had been passed down by ancestors to the traditional Yuin custodians of the Far South Coast.

“I acknowledge the effort of the traditional owners in leading this name change,” she said.

“I am delighted to be in this stunning location to officially announce the dual name of Barunguba Montague Island Nature Reserve.

“The Aboriginal name will sit alongside the non-Aboriginal name and I look forward to seeing Barunguba Montague Island Nature Reserve become widely and commonly used.”

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