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New names reflect Aboriginal cultural connection to parks

Posted: Thu, October 23, 2014

The Minister for Parks and Wildlife Bess Price has announced the official name change of three popular central Australian parks.

“The names have been changed to reflect each park or reserve’s deep and long-standing Aboriginal cultural associations,” Mrs Price said.

The parks will now be known as Tjoritja/ West MacDonnell National Park, Yeperenye/Emily and Jessie Gaps Nature Park and Napwerte/Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve.

“Earlier this year, the Central Land Council wrote to the Northern Territory Government on behalf of the traditional owners requesting the official name changes.

“The dual naming is common practice until such time as the new name is in common use. When these names are in common use in 10 to 20 years’ time, we will drop the original official names and retain the Aboriginal name only.

“It will take time for people to adjust to the new names, but Uluru and Nitmiluk are good examples where the Aboriginal place names have become commonly accepted and adopted around the world.”

The Central Land Council chair Francis Kelly said the name changes reflect the cultural importance of the parks.

“Not only are the Aboriginal names shorter than the European names, they also show the traditional owners’ ongoing cultural connection with their land. That’s very important to the traditional owners and it helps with attracting more visitors to the Alice Springs region,” Mr Kelly said.

Tjoritja (pronounced CHOOR-IT-JA), the Western and Central Aranda name for the MacDonnell Ranges, does not have a specific meaning.

Yeperenye (pronounced YEP-AREN-YA) is the name for one of the three caterpillars the traditional owners associate with important cultural sites and rock art within the park. They regard the East MacDonnell Ranges as the embodiment of their caterpillar ancestors, with some of the gaps along the ranges marking where those ancestors fought and had their heads bitten off.

Napwerte (pronounced NA-POOR-TA) is the place name for the rocky outcrop within the reserve.  As the entire reserve is a sacred men’s site any association with the name remains secret and sacred to initiated men.

Media Contact:       

Minister Price:  Lauren Crawley 0417 145 050

Central Land Council: Elke Wiesmann 0417877579