Mount Panorama becomes ‘Wahluu’ in move backed by Bathurst race organisers

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The sun rises on a new name for Mount Panorama – Wahluu, which means young man’s initiation place. Photo: Robert CianfloneMount Panorama will officially also now be known as Wahluu after the NSW Geographical Names Board approved a dual name for Australia’s iconic race track.

Both Wahluu​ and Mount Panorama are, as of last week, recorded in the Geographical Names Register as tandem names, ending a 40-year campaign by the Wiradyuri​ people  – and wider Aboriginal community – to have their name for the land formally recognised.

Geographical Names Board Chairman, Des Mooney, said the changes did not pave the way for one name to take precedence over the other. “It does however allow either name to be used,” he said.

Wahluu means young man’s initiation place. Wiradyuri elder, Dinawan Dyirribang​, also known as Bill Allen, said the decision was “an important acknowledgement of Aboriginal tradition and history”, which was welcomed by the Wiradyuri Council of Elders. “This was a longtime dream of the elders in the past that has been carried forward by today’s elders,” he said, adding the decision was “not about ownership” but about “connection with country and sharing the knowledge of Wahluu”.

“Wahluu has been the name for thousands of years,” he said.

Tongue in cheek, Mr Dyirribang added it was also used today by a number of other tribes “including Ford and Holden”, who descend on the land every October and February.

Prior to the more recent racing-related chapter in the land’s rich history, the story passed down through generations of the Wiradyuri people is that Wahluu was the name of a young warrior killed by his older brother, Ganhabula, in a dispute over a young unmarried woman.

“He fell … blood flowed over the ground and into the cracks of the Earth which then made Biame [Wiradyuri word for God] very angry,” said Mr Dyirribang.

“He made a volcano erupt and lava spewed out, flowing over Wahluu’s body. This is the shape of the mountain as it stands today. This is a moral story about jealousy and envy and how wrong it is to kill.”

The proposal for the historic dual name was submitted by the Bathurst Local Aboriginal Land Council but was the subject of numerous complaints by local residents in the lead-up to Bathurst Regional Council providing its endorsement, last November. The application also received the support of organisers behind both the Bathurst 1000 and Bathurst 12 Hour races.

Dual naming of geographical areas is not uncommon with the most famous example, within Australia, being Uluru/Ayers Rock.

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