Residents are outraged by pressure from the Queensland government to change the name of a popular tourist destination out of respect for indigenous traditional owners.
The Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) has proposed changing the name of Magnetic Island National Park to Yunbenun.
The name, pronounced Yuhn-beh-nin, is the preferred label for the island by the Wulgurukaba or “canoe people.”
The government has only proposed changing the name of the national park, not the island itself, but residents worry it is only a matter of time before that changes too.
DESI has proposed changing the name of Magnetic Island National Park to Yunbenun (file image)
The concern comes after Fraser Island’s traditional name, K’gari, was reinstated last year.
Magnetic Island resident Mary Vernon told mail which anticipates a massive local reaction to the tropical paradise’s name change.
He said that while some people support the change, it is certainly not the majority.
“A lot of people are worried about this because it’s really a meaningless gesture,” he said.
‘I think people are also worried about where this could lead and the possibility of renaming the entire island.
DESI issued a statement saying they recognize the rich cultural history of the area.
“DESI has recently submitted an updated management statement for the national park, outlining strategic directions for conserving key natural, social and cultural values of the World Heritage Area,” the statement reads.
Magnetic Island resident Mary Vernon told The Courier Mail she anticipates a massive local reaction to the proposal (file image)
“This includes the cultural sites and venues of Wulgurukaba, as well as the World War II heritage-listed fort complex, important vineyard thickets and the iconic hoop pine of Magnetic Island.”
The department will accept public submissions on the proposal until 5 p.m. on April 19.
In June, Fraser Island was officially renamed K’gari at the behest of the Butchulla people.
Elders had long campaigned for the sandy island to be named after Captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza, who were shipwrecked on the island in 1836 along with 18 crew and passengers.
Eliza Fraser survived while her husband and most of the others perished, and after returning to life in England she retold stories of slavery at the hands of the island’s barbaric and cannibalistic Aborigines.