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'Ngamawari': new Canberra waterfront park receives Indigenous name

Jess Whaler -

Canberra's newest waterfront park is set to take on an Indigenous name.

The park is set to be named Ngamawari, which in Ngunnawal language means 'Cave Place'.

The parks naming recognises the cultural significance of the limestone caves that were flooded during the creation of Lake Burley Griffin, caves which according to the United Ngunnawal Elders Council once provided shelter and a meeting place along the Molonglo River.

Ngunnawal community members and ACT Government representatives recently convened on the shore of Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin to confirm the naming of capital's newest venture.

In the spirit of truth telling, 2023 Order of Australia recipient, Dr Caroline Hughes said Ngamawari reflects the truth-telling story of this place – a place of significance to Ngunnawal people.

"There is so much Ngunnawal history in this place that has not been told such as the limestone caves that have been hidden by Lake Burley Griffin at a time when Ngunnawal were excluded from the conversation and development of Canberra," Dr Hughes said.

"Ngamawari celebrates and educates all about Ngunnawal Country, history and language."

Responding to community interest, the park's naming is the latest step int the ACT Government's progression towards reconciliation and truth-telling.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the idea to celebrate and embed Ngunnawal culture and history at the Acton Waterfront has been a popular theme in the ACT Government's public consultations on this project.

"The ACT Government has been working with Ngunnawal community representatives over the past two years on the park design and it is a great privilege to accept this Ngunnawal-language name from them, Mr Barr said.

"Future generations will now be able to celebrate Ngunnawal culture and history when they visit the Ngamawari public park and its adventure playground, cafes, native gardens and events lawns."

Federal Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, Kristy McBain said the Federal Government is is committed to recognising and celebrating the deep connection Ngunnawal people have to land in the ACT.

"With the works approval now granted by the National Capital Authority, the future park at the Acton waterfront – Ngamawari, is one step closer to becoming the vibrant cultural and entertainment precinct Canberra is screaming out for," Minister McBain said.

"With an adventure playground, cafes, native plant gardens and outdoor event spaces, Ngamawari will bring the Griffin vision to life – connecting this part of the lake to the city centre, and allowing more people to connect with the rich cultural heritage Canberra has to offer."

A tender process is currently underway for the development of a new park. Construction is planned to commence in early 2024, with a temporary park to open in 2025-26. The permanent park is expected to open by 2028.

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