To learn your country, start by learning its Aboriginal names
Learning the Aboriginal meaning of place names will deepen our connection to the land
Posted on 22.01.2019
Learning the Aboriginal meaning of place names will deepen our connection to the land we all live on, say Indigenous historians, at the launch of the ABC’s This Place project.
Bunurong, Punniler panner and Yuin author and historian Bruce Pascoe lives on the junction of three rivers near Mallacoota, on the southern end of Yuin country.
All three rivers have Aboriginal names which point to the richness and cultural significance of the area.
“Something like 60-70 per cent of place names in Australia are Aboriginal names,” Mr Pascoe said.
“They show how deeply and intimately our old people knew the land, how much they loved and respected the country. It’s something we should all be proud of.”
Mr Pascoe is a committee member of First Languages Australia, which has launched This Place in partnership with the ABC.
The project invites Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share the story behind their place names.
“One of my ambitions has always been that we do a thorough analysis of Australian place names as a way of bringing the country together,” he said.
Many place names refer to particular plants, animals or features of the landscape.
Others refer to history itself, the arrival of Europeans, and the sites of massacres.
“To learn the names we’ll have to go through a period of discomfort because it’s an uncomfortable history. But it’s better than going through a period of ignorance,” Mr Pascoe said.
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