What’s in a Name? These Days, Plenty of Woke

Whilst the Great Replacement surges ahead in Australia courtesy of record ‘post-pandemic’ immigration to make up for lost time because of closed borders, the other front of the war against European-heritage Australia continues to be active with the Great Erasure proceeding one place name at a time as colonial names ‘revert’ to Aboriginal names. The latest casualty is Fraser Island, off the coast of Queensland, which the state Labor government has now officially renamed K’gari (delightfully pronounced ‘gurri’), named after the “spirit who was sent down from the sky to help make the land and the seas that are home to the Butchulla people”. That’s one of the dreamtime myths of the local tribe, one of pre-contact Australia’s “600-700  Indigenous territorial  groups”, or  ‘First Nations’ (which were nothing of the kind but the woke phrase sounds more grandiose).

Fraser Island was named after Captain James Fraser, a British naval officer, and/or his wife, Eliza, who were amongst the shipwreck survivors of the Stirling Castle brig, holed by an uncharted coral reef  in 1836.  A badly injured James died on the island, either left to starve by, or speared to death by, the island’s Aborigines as his usefulness as captive labour was negligible.  Eliza survived and went on to write and lecture on the experience. The hostile treatment of the marooned colonialists by the natives was in keeping with the traditional race relations of the local tribe.  The Butchulla were known to murder shepherds and steal their sheep – and why wouldn’t they, being nomadic tribes, living bare subsistence lives, often at war with other tribes and never having developed agriculture or made any advances in scientific understanding or technology.

Poor old Captain Fraser – first he loses his life to Aborigines (who claim 60,000 years of occupation of pre-European Australia but who were just as civilisationally primitive in 1836 as they were back in the mists of time) only to then have his namesake island lose its European name — a name which symbolised the benefits his civilisation brought downunder.

The Guardian, befitting its idée fixé that race is the new political axis of the Earth, was jubilant, its tone one of both celebration that another colonial-era name had fallen and vindictive towards the shipwrecked Europeans, especially Eliza, who, the paper asserted, “wrote a debunked negative tale of her ‘captivity’ by the Butchulla people [and was thus] an early practitioner of fake news”.  The Guardian’s implicit premise is that the Butchulla, like all of Australia’s pre-colonial tribes, were proto-pacifist, tree-hugging, hippy precursors congenitally incapable of such things as taking slaves because they were living in perfect harmony with nature (although the magnificent megafauna might have disagreed had they not been hunted to extinction and burnt out of habitat), never warred with other tribes, always treated their women folk with great gentleness and never dabbled in child-sex abuse, infanticide, cannibalism or any other dysfunctional cultural practice.

On the contrary, Australia’s early Aborigines, including the Butchulla, were hunter-gatherers whose primitive, often barbaric, lifestyles, well-adapted to their harsh environment, only died out with the coming of European settlers. Offer the typical woke Indigenous activist, whether black or white, the choice of a traditional Aboriginal way of life or an all mod-cons, Western lifestyle and see how quickly, in what economists and psychologists call ‘revealed preference’, they plump for the latter, ironically turning themselves into what they happily caricature as despised ‘racists’ amongst the woke-averse.

There is more than a symbolic erasure of European-heritage Australia going on with the renaming of Fraser Island, of course, because there is never anything empty about virtue-signalling.  Nineteen hectares of crown land on the island are to be gifted to the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation as part of the renaming deal – it is they who will profit from the eco-tourism that is the remaining economic lifeline of the island’s economy (mining has ceased, as has logging of the satinay forests, which once supplied timber for the refurbishment of the of the Suez Canal in the 1930s.

More linguistic mauling (and economic skimming) is planned.  Queensland’s minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Leanne Enoch, said: “As Queensland continues on its Path to Treaty, the lands, place names and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will form a much greater part of our shared experience”.  Her boss, Ms. Palaszczuk, said “we will continue to recognise Indigenous languages through place names, in the spirit of truth-telling and reconciliation as we walk the Path to Treaty” – and the walk to reparations, she could have added but chose not to, even though that pot of gold is the phrase currently on every black activist’s lips.


At least Australia is not as far gone as our neighbour across the ditch, Aotearoa (Maori for the country formally known as New Zealand until Jacinda Ardern led a woke assault place names). Many prominent localities and topographic features have been subjected to dual naming for some time now (but with Maori taking poll position ahead of the English name, of course, whilst locations with Maori names are never forcibly coupled with an English equivalent).  Meanwhile, a new proposal for the bilingual naming of major road traffic signs is planned despite everyone in New Zealand understanding ‘Expressway’ but nearly everyone being bemused by Te Ara Puaki.  This is just one of the ‘progressive’ absurdities gifted by the Treaty of 1840 which claims that the Maori language must be given equivalent standing to English as part of the “equal partnership” between white and Maori.


Australia Post

Watch out for a similar language clause amongst the many delights of a Voice-facilitated Treaty.  Australia Post has already tested the waters in this regard, with the forces of woke winning a glorious victory in 2021 in the Great Place Names Culture War by introducing the (optional) use of Aboriginal place names on addressed mail.  Australia Post pandered to activist Rachael McPhail, a “Gomeroi woman” (sorry, a “proud” Gomeroi woman), by announcing that it will persuade Australian postal users to “include a traditional place name in the mailing address”.

Australia Post’s National Indigenous Manager Chris Heelan, a ‘Noongar man’ (sorry again, a “proud” Noongar man), said that the initiative was a “fantastic concept to recognise traditional Country on their mail”.  Sure, this ‘fantastic’ innovation of having a completely new line in the address field, which no one is familiar with may well contribute to making AusPost even more slow, more inefficient and more expensive. But the price-tag of ‘racial inclusion’ has no upper limit.

The growth in Australia’s Aboriginal renaming has been driven in part by our adherence to the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names (yes, that globalist monstrosity whose public health ‘experts’ gave us the disaster of the WHO’s Covid policies) which “recommends that all countries having groups of aboriginal/native people make a special effort to collect their geographical names including for use on maps”. Australia has been a loyal UN acolyte.  University of Melbourne professor, Bruce Pascoe (yes that Bruce Pascoe) has been quick to boast that “over 60 per cent of Australian place names are of Aboriginal origin”.  Taking the fabulist of Dark Emu notoriety at his word is a bit fraught but the figure seems ball-park plausible.  The fully woke, the professional victim class, however, are not satisfied with Aboriginal place names being around twenty times the Aboriginal proportion of the total Australian population. Although many Aboriginal place names (for example, Parramatta, Woolloomooloo, Turramurra, Wangaratta, Mullumbimbi, Cronulla, Maroubra, Curl-Curl, Ulladulla, Mudgee, Cunnamulla, Moree, Wagga Wagga) have been fondly adopted by all Australians, often for their pleasing, mellifluous musical rhythm, the renaming revolution must never rest!


The renaming rot sets in

Appeasement of the woke renamers doesn’t work – it only encourages more.  In New South Wales, for example, at the beginning of the nineteenth century the Surveyor-General of the colony, Major Thomas Mitchell, instructed all surveyors that Aboriginal names, especially the more euphonious ones, should be used and recorded wherever possible.

The rot, however, really set in in the 1960s (that ‘progressive’ decade when so much went wrong) with the introduction of a formal policy by the Geographical Names Board of NSW that “names  of  Aboriginal  origin  or  with  an  historical background are preferred”.  In 1992, the Board boldly proposed a dual-name policy (a “step  forward  on  the  path  towards  reconciliation”, in case you hadn’t guessed). This “initiative enriches all of us, indigenous and non-indigenous”, the proclamation continued in paint-by-numbers Wokespeak. This, however, met with so much public disgruntlement that the Minister for Land and Water Conservation, George  Souris, was forced to scrap the proposal.  Since June 2001, however, the NSW State Government has supported a dual-naming policy for geographical  features and cultural  sites and the renaming continues at a relatively sedate rate of around five places a year.


Bradfield and Brisbane

This now well-entrenched name-changing policy no doubt encouraged Andy Marks, Assistant Vice-Chancellor of Western Sydney University, to take to the opinion pages of the Sydney Morning Herald in 2021 to lament how Australia’s “first 22nd century city”, a proposed “aerotropolis” for future advanced manufacturing, research, science and education, will be named after the Sydney engineer, John Bradfield, rather than an Aboriginal.  Of English ancestry, Bradfield was, in the early-mid decades of the 20th century, the visionary engineer who gave us the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge amongst other emblematic construction achievements such as electric railway systems and dams and turbines for hydro-electric power.

According to Assistant Vice-Chancellor Marks, however, the choice of Bradfield shamefully “enshrines deceased white Anglo males above all others” when the new city should be named after an Aboriginal woman such as “Gamaraigal woman, Patyegarang” who “worked with First Fleet astronomer William Dawes”, a linguistic sleight-of-hand to desperately spin an 18th century Aboriginal woman, whose claim to fame seems to have been an ability to speak and teach her native Gadigal language, as some sort of scientist on a par with the trio of US black female mathematicians on whom, or so we are now told, the entire 1969 moon landing program apparently depended.

‘Bradfield’ appears to have survived, for now, as has ‘Brisbane’ (named in 1823 after Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales) when the Queensland Premier scuttled into action to deny rumours, emanating from government sources, that the capital city, built by convicts and free settlers, was to be renamed to the Aboriginal Meanjin prior to the 2032 Olympics.  Any streets and buildings named after a King or Queen were also rumoured to be targeted for elimination.  Even Annastacia , however, appears to have recognised that permanently doing away with ‘Brisbane’ is a woke bridge too far (at this time).

The Australian public’s anti-woke defences are being probed, however, with TV weather maps (with SBS in the lead, naturally) occasionally renaming Australia’s capital cities with Aboriginal monikers. The AFL have also jumped on the woke renaming bandwagon with three AFL clubs now changing their club name for two games a season, with Melbourne becoming ‘Narrm’, Fremantle ‘Walyalup’ and Port Adelaide ‘Yartapuulti’.

No place name icon is ultimately safe – Ayers Rock (sorry, Uluru) was one of the high profile casualties of the Great Place Names War back in in 1993 whilst even ‘Australia’ (which has no Aboriginal equivalent because no tribe had an awareness of the whole continent) is under annual assault with the push to rename Australia Day to ‘Invasion Day’.


Frogs Unite!

Political revolutions, and counter-revolutions, usually see a flurry of city, street and building name changes (out with the old, in with the new, back in with the old) but the pace of the Australian place-renaming revolution is more at boiling-frog pace.  Fortunately, sometimes enough of the frogs get wise to what’s afoot and band together to get out of cultural hot water.

When the Victorian Tourism Minister, Steve Crabb, for example, announced that many European place names in the Grampians were “inappropriate” and that they should be replaced by Indigenous names (the ‘Grampians’ itself would become ‘Gariwerd’), an 18,000-signature petition to retain the local English names was raised.  “Changing the name would remove our history”, complained the ultimately successful petition.  Attachment to place works both ways, as this woke politician found out.

Defensive battles such as this have also been complemented by offensive wins such as, in the early 1970s, when road signs with understandable English language names appeared in the Gove Peninsula near the mining town of Nhulunbuy (the name comes the local Yolnu tribe) and the resultant fuss kicked up by the Yolnu went unheeded.  Local businesses and sports clubs also decided to decline changing their English names for Yolnu ones – with the one exception of Gove Industrial Supplies which became the discordant ‘Gorrkbuy Industrial Supplies’ (you can see why the renaming fad didn’t catch on more generally).

And, praise be, no-one, absolutely no-one, ever uses the new, unpronouncable, Aboriginalised AFL club names.


Invention all round

The great irony is that what we now revere as authentic, traditional Aboriginal place names (including K’gari itself) are partially artificial reconstructions from cultures that had no written language, had a variety of competing oral languages (with many sub-dialects) which are no longer, or imperfectly, spoken.  Transcription into the Roman alphabet was more guesswork than philology whilst the place name’s spelling and pronunciation is often contested by different factions as Indigenous language ‘purists’ battle it out with those favouring Aboriginal words and spellings that can be grasped and pronounced easily in English.  Furthermore, Aboriginal land tenure is often disputed amongst different Aboriginal ‘First Nations’, each with their different languages.  The invention of many ‘traditional’ Aboriginal places is conceptually little different to the past adoption of English-language names for Indigenous areas  — Parramatta redux, if you will.

When I toiled away in Canberra (in the Commonwealth Public Service – Making Life Better for You!), I lived on Captain Cook Crescent in Narrabundah and the two-culture names got along just fine. But being subjected to race-based social and political change handed down from Mount Woke while a chorus of Aboriginal ‘voices’ mutters ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’, can only promote unnecessary racial division. But that’s the wokery definition of ‘reconciliation’ all over.

20 thoughts on “What’s in a Name? These Days, Plenty of Woke

  • Paul W says:

    You forgot the most important part – practically every Australian of prominence in the past was better intellectually than the modern mob. The Federating Fathers wrote the Constitution themselves, but no Attorney-General or even the Prime Minister could do it now.
    Those who are worth nothing are renaming things they couldn’t create after people who created nothing.

  • Farnswort says:

    “Whilst the Great Replacement surges ahead in Australia courtesy of record ‘post-pandemic’ immigration to make up for lost time because of closed borders, the other front of the war against European-heritage Australia continues to be active with the Great Erasure proceeding one place name at a time as colonial names ‘revert’ to Aboriginal names.”

    This topic is an example of Michael Anton’s “celebration parallax” – the same fact is either true and glorious or false and scurrilous depending on who states it.

    Depending on who’s doing the talking, the cultural and demographic de-Europeanisation of Australia is treated as a great win for diversity and minority rights or a racist conspiracy theory peddled by scare-mongers.

  • Tony Tea says:

    I’m betting our indigenous friends are having a massive laugh at the English spelling of traditional place names.

  • sabena says:

    I wonder whether we will get to a situation where even existing aboriginal names are to be changed because they were selected by white Australians eg Wollongong and the upper North Shore suburbs of Sydney such as Turramurra and Wahroonga.

    • Daffy says:

      I’m guessing. Turramurra means ‘quite nice place to live, close to Sydney, high rainfall’, while Wahroonga means ‘people who think they in a slightly better place than Turramurra’. While we are at it, Tangara is Aboriginal for ‘urban rapid transit’ (the name of a previous generation of Sydney trains).

  • Peter OBrien says:

    A couple of weeks ago, on Sky News Outsiders, they showed some footage of a full blooded Aborigine repudiating the so-called Uluru Statement from the Heart. Whoever shot the footage had to supply a caption because the protagonist’s English was pretty hard to understand. The caption had him referring to ‘this rock’ but you didn’t have to listen too hard to hear he was saying ‘Ayres Rock’. So if an Aborigine is happy to live with the English name, why are whites – like those at ABC Classic FM who constantly refer to Melbourne as Narm – falling over themselves to erase OUR heritage?

    • Daffy says:

      The Latte-left, like their name are light on substance and long on froth.

    • mrsfarley2001 says:

      In today’s egregiously leftist “West Australian” newspaper, re the local updated Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act, a man whose Exmouth property is affected badly by said updated Act is described in the article simply as “an Aboriginal man”.

      A refreshing change from all the “pride” nonsense. On all fronts.

      The botched rollout of said updated Act in WA is a preview of what the so-called “Voice to Parliament” will do to this country.

      Thank God people perceive this.

      • Rebekah Meredith says:

        July 11, 2023
        “Egregiously leftist” is spot-on, since the advent of current editor Anthony de Ceglie. (The West has also become more and more of a gossip sheet.) However, I suspect that even de Ceglie senses the current outlook; the paper certainly is not as gung-ho for the Voice as it was to begin with.

        • mrsfarley2001 says:

          Intersectionalities may well collide here. Lots of large local families which originate in Europe have lots of local property which may well be captured under said revised Act. This will cause lots of people lots and lots of expensive trouble: a little taste of what the so-called “Voice” will produce. There’s even goss about “sea rights”.

          100% unreasonable, unworkable and untenable.

          • mrsfarley2001 says:

            And, a year or so ago, when Labor tried (& failed) to socialize the lobster industry, De Ceglie declared a family interest in the issue, so at least that was clear. Lots of Fremantle-area families have done okay out of market gardens, too.

  • call it out says:

    In the City of Mitcham, in Adelaide’s south eastern suburbs, the new community hub has been named “Tiwu Kumangka” (in Kaurna: the coming together and the black cockatoos) by the local council. The main part of that centre, without which it would not exist, is the library.
    The irony, of course, is that a public library is a great cultural inheritance of western civilisation (and other literate societies).
    The woke councillors and council staff who pushed this name (the ratepayers certainly didn’t) have no idea of how facile their thinking is.


    The recurrent nag of aboriginal place names! Now on certain weather maps and a regular intrusion on their ABC’s Radio National. Is there an Esperanto type version of the aboriginal polyglot? That way these de facto place names could be understood by all the 600 to 700 indigenous territorial groups and maybe even us other humans the other side of the ever widening racial divide.

  • Daffy says:

    When someone shows me pre-settlement Aboriginal signs giving the name of location, how dare the Latte-left stoop to reverse cultural appropriation (cultural imposition) by inflicting a modern western practice on the tribal stamping grounds variously identified at various times.

  • pmprociv says:

    Brilliant stuff, Phil — you’ve articulated beautifully what I’ve been thinking for a long while now. I’ve had to give up reading anything from New Zealand these days (just check out any “academic” articles from NZ on The Conversation to see why), for it’s become like wading through thick mud, what with all the obligatory Maorist double-speak (at least Maori is a uniform, nation-wide language, even Polynesian-wide) unlike the Babel-ian [barbarian?] mess we have in Oz). So tragic, and oppressive, to see that we’re heading in the same direction. To promote “reconciliation”, our proud Princess Annastacia blithely declares that Qld schoolkids will now be learning Aboriginal languages, using the newly-confected, Western imposition of reading and writing — this at a time when our educational standards are slipping downwards on all international scales. Perhaps they just might come in handy when our kids compete for jobs as servants to the future Treaty Masters?

  • Kevin Vaughan says:

    I am truly disappointed that a magazine of this caliber has allowed itself to become a voice of antagonism to the original people of this continent.
    Kevin Vaughan

    • Paul W says:

      The original people of this continent is the Australian people. The suggestion that Aboriginal peoples have a connection to this continent is an anachronism from Australian nationalism. One might as well speak of the Homo Erectus connection to Asia.
      Reconciliation will begin only when this is accepted.

Leave a Reply