‘Tens of thousands of years of history’: Boyd name change gains traction

Part of the coastline along Ben Boyd National Park. Traditional Custodians are discussing name change options with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Picture: Henry Gold
Part of the coastline along Ben Boyd National Park. Traditional Custodians are discussing name change options with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. Picture: Henry Gold

Traditional custodians will meet with representatives from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to discuss the potential name change of Ben Boyd National Park.

Let’s change it to something traditional and meaningful to the traditional owners of the land.

Eden Magnet reader Sally Mitchell

Thaua man Steven Holmes raised the issue in October this year in light of the more unsavoury side of Boyd’s dealings in the region, and received support on social media for the move.

The 54-year-old said the region’s traditional custodians have been discussing the issue for many years due to oral stories of his treatment of Thaua people and stories of Boyd’s “blackbirding” of South Sea Islanders as slave labourers.

The Newcastle Herald recently described Boyd as a “charming, if ruthless, wealthy merchant adventurer”, who “swept through colonial NSW between 1842 and 1849 when he left, some say fled, in disgrace”.

Thaua man Steven Holmes raised the issue in October this year in light of the more unsavoury side of Boyd’s dealings in the region. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

Thaua man Steven Holmes raised the issue in October this year in light of the more unsavoury side of Boyd’s dealings in the region. Picture: Alasdair McDonald

The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage said “place names are often very meaningful to local communities and suggested name changes can be met with a range of passionate views”.

“While renaming is not common across the state, it has occurred under certain circumstances such as where a non-Aboriginal name is currently used and a new name sourced from Aboriginal communities is proposed or the park has been expanded and now incorporates a more appropriate prominent natural feature,” an OEH spokesperson said.

While there was some support on social media for the name to remain, many others support a relevant name change.

“Two hundred odd years of history versus tens of thousands of years of history, and we’re arguing about retaining a name that remembers a man who imported Pacific Islanders as slaves? Not really the sort of person that deserves glorification,” reader Angela George said.

“Let’s change it to something traditional and meaningful to the traditional owners of the land,” reader Sally Mitchell said.

Others supported keeping the name in place.

“There will be a lot of history to change, and who do they think is going to pay for all this?” one reader commented.

In 1847 Boyd brought 65 men from Lifu Island to work on his acquired properties in the region.

They  either died, vanished, or fled north to Sydney in an attempt to get home to what is now called New Caledonia, leading the colonial government of NSW to ban the practice.

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