Four years after names such as N****rs Bounce were wiped from the map in Queensland, another place name that symbolises Australia’s dark past is about to go.
Black Gin Creek near the outback town of Longreach is the latest name to get the flick.
The Darumbal people say it’s a ‘racist’ way to describe an Aboriginal woman and approve of its new name Watyakan Creek.
‘It’s been known to me (as Black Gin Creek) all my life, that’s 60-odd years,’ Kerry Thompson, who works as a health coordinator, told Daily Mail Australia.
Black Gin Creek’s name (pictured) is about to be changed to Watyakan Creek
‘It was known as that in my grandparents’ time too. For Aboriginal people it has always been a racist name, especially for our people out here. We saw it as derogatory.’
But Ms Thompson and other local Indigenous people have finally been able to get Queensland’s Longreach Regional Council to change the name.
‘A lot of history came with why those names were given, because of atrocities that happened and we can’t deny that they did happen.’
Ms Thompson, as a custodian of the country, was invited by an Aboriginal elder from Longreach to get involved in the battle to have the named changed.
‘He asked me to go along and support him at a council meeting which was instigated by the council. They said a letter had come in saying the name was disrespectful and wanted to see if the name could be changed.’
For Ms Thomspon, this was a long overdue chance to right a historical wrong. ‘For many years Aboriginal people have voiced their concerns about the name of that Creek, but if fell on deaf ears,’ she said.
The new name will be Watyakan Creek – meaning Women’s Creek – which pays tribute to the women who historically camped near it.
Health coordinator Kerry Thompson (pictured) worked to have the name Black Gin Creek changed by Longreach Regional Council
‘I acknowledge Longreach Regional Council for taking that huge step forward. I’m all about reconciliation,’ Ms Thompson said.
Des Crump, a University of Queensland Indigenous language fellow, was involved in coming up with the new name.
‘It’s very encouraging that the Longreach council have taken that step to do something about it and hopefully it encourages other councils to reconsider some of those name changes,’ he told ABC.
Darumbal elder Aunty Sally Vea Vea said there were still many racist place names across Queensland that need to be changed, including other Black Gin Creeks and Black Fella Creeks.
‘They’re just memorials to a racist past,’ she said.
Longreach Regional Council currently does not have any plan to change the name of Chinaman Creek (pictured)
Such names are dotted around other states too. There is, for instance, a Chinamans Beach in the Sydney suburb of Mosman, which is home to some of the wealthiest people in the country.
Longreach Mayor Tony Rayner is happy with the name change for Black Gin Creek, which was ‘a little bit offensive for some’.
But he is not expecting any other name changes in the area, which includes a place called Chinaman Creek.
‘It would depend on whether anyone was offended by that,’ he said.
‘But I think you have to be reasonable – that one probably wouldn’t be offensive to many people. It is a little bit subject to interpretation,’ he told ABC’s Danielle O’Neal and Erin Semmler.
The controversially named Chinamans Beach (pictured) is in the Sydney suburb of Mosman, home to some of the wealthiest people in Australia
In 2017, ten offensive place names in Queensland were changed after public pressure.
After concern was raised about N****rs Bounce, south-west of Townsville, the Natural Resources and Mines Department launched a review into location names across the state.
Nine others – Mount N****r, N****r Head and seven instances of N****r Creek – were found to be ‘similarly offensive’ and were scrapped and renamed.
The best known example of a place name changed to its Indigenous designation is Uluru in the Northern Territory, previously known as Ayers Rock.