‘Blackbirder’ Ben Boyd’s name to be removed from National Park

Katrina Condie 16 November 2021 36
Ben Boyd National Park

The renaming of the Ben Boyd National Park will celebrate ancient Aboriginal culture. Photo: Flying Parrot.

Ben Boyd National Park near Eden will be renamed in the language of Traditional Custodians, recognising the Aboriginal cultural heritage of the area.

The decision follows requests from local Aboriginal communities to rename the 8900-hectare park due to Ben Boyd’s association with ‘blackbirding’, a practice that involved the coercion of people through deception or kidnapping to work as slaves or poorly paid labourers.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service last year engaged an independent historian, Dr Mark Dunn, to provide a report on the history of Ben Boyd on the NSW South Coast.

Dr Dunn’s report confirms Ben Boyd’s involvement in ‘blackbirding’, which was viewed by many as a form of slavery.

The report found that in the early 19th century, Boyd took people from the islands of what is now Vanuatu and New Caledonia to work on his pastoral stations in New South Wales.

Part of finalising the report involved consultation with local Elders, Aboriginal community representatives and Australian South Sea Islander representatives, as well as Port Jackson and Bega Valley Shire Council.

Ben Boyd National Park

The Ben Boyd National Park covers an area north and south of Twofold Bay at Eden. Photo: Flying Parrot.

Environment Minister Matt Kean says renaming the park will not only celebrate ancient Aboriginal culture but also recognise its importance to Aboriginal people in recent history.

“It is time to acknowledge the real history of Ben Boyd and remove his name from the national park that continues to hold enormous cultural significance for Aboriginal people,” Mr Kean said.

“It is clear from the expert historical analysis that Ben Boyd’s association with ‘blackbirding’ should not be reflected or celebrated in any way in our National Parks.

“There are many people from NSW’s early history who are worth remembering and celebrating, but it is clear from this historical analysis that Ben Boyd is not one of them.”

Ben Boyd National Park

Ben Boyd National Park will soon be renamed. Photo: Flying Parrot.

The next step is to work with local Elders and Aboriginal community representatives to decide on a new name for the park to reflect traditional language. Consultation on a new name is expected to start in the coming weeks.

On agreement, National Parks and Wildlife Service will present the proposed new name to the Geographic Names Board, seeking approval and gazettal of the new name.

The decision follows the NPWS Parks Name Policy that new park names should come from Aboriginal communities. Restoring Aboriginal place names celebrates and recognises the region’s ancient Aboriginal culture and reinstates its importance over recent history.

Established in 1971, the park is home to more than 50 recorded Aboriginal sites, including middens, rock shelters, campsites and long-distance travel routes. These cultural sites continue to provide the local Aboriginal community with traditional and spiritual links to this part of their Country.

Original Article published by Katrina Condie on About Regional.

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36 Responses to ‘Blackbirder’ Ben Boyd’s name to be removed from National Park
Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:39 pm 18 Nov 21

Wait till they catch up with Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Just about every place in Australia has a town/street/river/etc. named after him:


Capital Retro Capital Retro 2:41 pm 18 Nov 21

“I think a park named after Hitler would have been changed too.”

I don’t think Hitler personally had any slaves.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:18 am 18 Nov 21

When I left school I started work with one of the 4 big Australian banks. The wages were appalling and I was sent to some very remote towns where barely adequate board and lodgings were arranged by the bank and usually a kickback was paid to someone. Other products like life insurance were “arranged” by the bank and kickbacks were paid.

The net salary was barely enough to survive on, and I had to borrow from relatives to buy clothes and extra food that was required because one cannot survive on boarding house neck chops and fried bread forever.

I reckon this was tantamount to slave labour so are there any lawyers out there who are willing to start a class action against the bank? There were thousands of others just like me in the same predicament.

Dion Devow Dion Devow 8:31 am 18 Nov 21

This is very interesting. I am a descendant of the Kanakas ( south Islander peoples of Vanuatu) who were brought to Australia as part of the slave trade. My great great great grandfather was enticed onto a boat by a blackbirder and taken from Tanna Island as a 12 yr old boy, never to return. He worked much like a slave in the cane fields of NQ. And married in to the Aboriginal people of Palm Island. This is a part of Australia’s history that not many people are aware of. I didn’t know it extended as far south as NSW, but I’m not that surprised.

David Elward David Elward 8:32 pm 17 Nov 21

Yea, let’s rewrite all our Australian history books to suit the new age people that can’t understand we have learnt from our past experiences, good and bad, and grown from that history. Let’s all pretend it didn’t happen. Actually do some research and you’ll discover his ill fated attempt to use salves failed and laws were changed so he couldn’t try again. Maybe teach Aus history in our schools and show the younger generation how much we have evolved since Captain Cook arrived.

Wake up and move out from your caves. This stuff happened.

    Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 7:17 am 18 Nov 21

    David Elward it did happen which is why the name of the park is being changed. I think a park named after Hitler would have been changed too.

Robyn Shaw Robyn Shaw 10:00 am 17 Nov 21

Joseph Banks was a slave owner and not entirely devoted to just collecting plants. Are we going to rename the Banksia genus? Robert Towns was a 'blackbirder' so Townsville should be renamed. So many places are named after people who have unsavoury backgrounds but it is probably better to acknowledge their dark pasts than to try to whitewash history.

    Sue Sutton Sue Sutton 8:17 pm 18 Nov 21

    Robyn Shaw History has already been ‘white washed’. One hundred percent on board with the change.

Linda Pennock Linda Pennock 9:45 am 17 Nov 21

Yuk, after looking up who he was change the name! Put a small note underneath the new signs explaining why it was changed

kenbehrens kenbehrens 8:32 pm 16 Nov 21

It is ridiculous to apply today’s standards to historical events or people from eras past and remove all references to our forefathers.

Is it really that different to our great grandchildren destroying our photos and changing their surnames out of disgust, because we (their ancestors) drove car with internal combustion engines and used carbon based fuels to heat and cool our homes!

    JS9 JS9 9:19 am 17 Nov 21

    In what world should blackbirding be seen as an acceptable activity no matter when it was undertaken?

    Its not like it was named Ben Boyd National Park in 1845 or forever back in the day. It was named that in 1971…..

    I assume Boydtown and Boyd’s Tower will remain their name as is (as they should given he founded/built them).

    And the rest of your comment is just utter nonsense and white noise.

    kenbehrens kenbehrens 7:37 pm 17 Nov 21

    I’m not sure why those supportive of name changes link opposition to support of the alleged activities of the individual.

    Whilst you ‘assume” that Boydtown and Boyd’s Tower would retain their names, that’s a pretty big assumption. Once there is pressure to delete a person’s name, a domino effect occurs. We’ve only got to look at Coon Cheese, named after its creator.

    I agree, my final paragraph was nonsense. It was meant to be. Changing names because we don’t like history is also nonsense.

    JS9 JS9 11:39 am 18 Nov 21

    If someone wants to put up an argument to change Boyd’s Tower or Boydtown’s name, then they are open to doing that. There is no suggestion as part of this decision that is on the cards.

    I’m intrigued what ‘dominoes’ were involved in the decision around coon cheese? You raise it as an example, but I don’t see how it demonstrates the point at all…

    If it was called Hitler or Stalin National Park, would you be against renaming it?

Jim Roy Jim Roy 5:56 pm 16 Nov 21

People commenting on here need to get real - we can’t change history - so do we have parks named after WWII dictators or 90’s war criminals?

It’s just not done when white Europeans have been the victims.

Pete Nagle Pete Nagle 5:09 pm 16 Nov 21

Do we go ahead and just wipe all the history? I understand that things that have happened in the past were not right, but it is history. We need to change the future, not names. Stop wasting the tax payers money on things that really don't change anything.

    Sandra Naden Sandra Naden 5:12 pm 16 Nov 21

    Pete Nagle , I totally agree .If we wipe out all trace of history we can't learn from it .

    Peter Marshall Peter Marshall 6:43 pm 16 Nov 21

    Which bit of history is being wiped?

    Jonathan Nicholl Jonathan Nicholl 7:08 pm 16 Nov 21

    Pete Nagle if we follow that logic we should never have called it anything different to what the local Yuin mob called it in the first place. Even by the standards of the day Boyd was a nasty piece of work who happened to be ok at building a small town on the back of others misery before leaving everyone broke, stranded and then buggering off. He can be commemorated in a museum but we don’t need a national park or a town named after him

    Stephen Esdaile Stephen Esdaile 11:32 pm 16 Nov 21

    Spot on Jonathon.

    Danielle Heffernan Danielle Heffernan 9:34 am 17 Nov 21

    Pete Nagle “It is time to acknowledge the real history of Ben Boyd and remove his name from the national park that continues to hold enormous cultural significance for Aboriginal people,” Mr Kean said.

    “It is clear from the expert historical analysis that Ben Boyd’s association with ‘blackbirding’ should not be reflected or celebrated in any way in our National Parks.

    “There are many people from NSW’s early history who are worth remembering and celebrating, but it is clear from this historical analysis that Ben Boyd is not one of them.”

    Eugene La'ment Eugene La'ment 8:52 pm 17 Nov 21

    Pete Nagle just like white people erased the real place names?

    Geoffrey Tryde Geoffrey Tryde 6:50 pm 18 Nov 21

    Danielle Heffernan do we also erase all pe

Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 4:31 pm 16 Nov 21

Maybe just call it eden national park until it becomes inappropriate

    Dave Dran Dave Dran 4:37 pm 16 Nov 21

    Jane Kennedy Eden has biblical connotations, so may already be inappropriate! I think Lotsatrees National Park might be a safe name.

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 5:07 pm 16 Nov 21

    Dave Dran so, the opposite of Nullarbor 👍

    Peter Marshall Peter Marshall 6:42 pm 16 Nov 21

    Jane Kennedy what's wrong with using a First Nations Peoples name?

    Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy 7:29 pm 16 Nov 21

    Said lol to the comment about lotsatrees

    I don’t have any comments thread about First Nations name?

Dave Dran Dave Dran 4:21 pm 16 Nov 21

So what happens with Boyd's Tower and Boydtown? And while we're at it, should Ben Boyd Road in Sydney be renamed? EDIT: Apparently someone got up a petition to change that one. It failed.

Lynette Clifton Lynette Clifton 3:40 pm 16 Nov 21

Let's call it the Joe Bloggs National Park. Joe won't offend anybody.

    Juz Hawke Juz Hawke 3:56 pm 16 Nov 21

    Lynette Clifton very optimistic!

    Jo Matusiak Jo Matusiak 5:18 pm 16 Nov 21

    Lynette Clifton speak for yourself 🤪😉

    Geoffrey Tryde Geoffrey Tryde 6:47 pm 18 Nov 21

    Lynette Clifton let's just give Joe a chance, he hasn't been really trying yet🤔

Mikey Moore Mikey Moore 2:58 pm 16 Nov 21

Pretty reasonable decision to change the name. Look forward to hearing what its new name will be. Its a stunning part of the coast.

franky22 franky22 2:01 pm 16 Nov 21

I’m generally opposed to try to rewrite history using current morality but even a cursory look at the records indicates that Boyd was a rogue.

Probably not a slaver but he brought Islanders to NSW and treated them dreadfully.

He also swindled investors & was clearly a borderline criminal. I’m happy for the name to be changed.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 1:21 pm 16 Nov 21

This is not helpful if we are one day to achieve reconciliation.

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