Ayers Rock is now Uluru. The Olgas are now Kata Tjuta. The recognition of Aboriginal names for Australia’s iconic natural landmarks has been a long time coming. And next up to potentially receive the re-naming treatment is Mt Kosciuszko.
Mt Kosciuszko – the highest peak in Australia at 2,228m – received its name in 1840 from Polish explorer Pawel Strezlecki to honour General Kosciuszko, a freedom fighter who died in 1817.
A spiritually significant place for the Ngarigo people, the Geographical Names Board of NSW is considering giving the peak back its traditional Aboriginal name. The discussion follows an official proposal from local Ngarigo elder and Tumbarumba resident, Uncle John Casey.
So, what is Mt Kosciuszko’s original name?
The name being considered is ‘Kunama Namadgi’, meaning snow and mountain. If agreed, this name would sit alongside the name Mount Kosciuszko.
But, that’s where the debate comes in. There are over 20 Aboriginal names for the mountain and it turns out that ‘Kunama Namadgi’ is offensive to some Aboriginal people.
Ngarigo woman Iris White – chairperson of the Southern Kosciuszko Executive Advisory Committee – has expressed concern as the word ‘Kunama’ can actually mean ‘faeces’ in some Aboriginal languages.
There are hundreds of Aboriginal languages and it’s no surprise that certain words don’t mean the same across each of them.
But what’s next? Well, the Geographical Names Board of NSW is currently consulting with Aboriginal communities to decide the new dual name. And we watch and wait to celebrate whatever’s chosen.
Feature image by Brooke Nolan
Adventures near Mt Kosciuszko