Names inspired by Sydney’s Aboriginal culture

Historic buildings in Green Square and a network of wetlands in Sydney Park are set to be renamed with Aboriginal words that will help bring Sydney’s original language back into everyday use.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said using local Aboriginal names for the community buildings at the old South Sydney Hospital site and four rejuvenated wetlands in Sydney Park was a way to recognise Sydney’s traditional custodians, the Gadigal people.

“Giving these culturally and ecologically-significant sites Gadigal names introduces these words into everyday life, and will boost awareness of Sydney’s long and unique history,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The City of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Panel asked us to consider giving Aboriginal names to public places and we’veworked closely with them and the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council to identify appropriate names.

“This is a way to honour and promote awareness of the world’s oldest living culture, and help reawaken Aboriginal language use in a way that becomes a concrete part of everyday life.”

Council approved the naming of the wetlands after extensive community consultation. The proposed names for Green Square places will be on public exhibition in March.

The four wetlands in Sydney Park have been given Aboriginal language names for local wildlife that reflect the biodiversity of the park. They are:

  • Wirrambi Wetland – meaning ‘bat’, relates to the newly-created habitat for microbats at the park;
  • Guwali Wetland – meaning ‘cormorant’, recognises the water habitat island in the wetlands that’s attracting cormorants and other wetland birds to the park;
  • Bunmarra Wetland – meaning ‘lizard’, refers to the growing blue-tongue lizard population in the park; and
  • Gilbanung Wetland – meaning ‘grasshopper’, an insect prevalent in the park that can be heard singing at night around the wetlands.

The old South Sydney Hospital site – bordered by Joynton Avenue, Hansard Street, Portman Street and Zetland Avenue – will be transformed into the Green Square Community and Cultural Precinct. It includes two heritage buildings that will be redeveloped and renamed using Aboriginal language words:

  • The former casualty building is to be redeveloped as a long-day childcare centre and the proposed name is Waranara Early Education Centre, from the Aboriginal language word ‘to seek’; and
  • The former pathology building will become a community building and the proposed name is Banga Community Shed, from the local Aboriginal word to ‘make’ or ‘do’.

The selected names were sourced from The Sydney Language by Jakelin Troy, the most comprehensive word list of the Sydney language published and accepted by the Aboriginal community.