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Vincent Council to vote on returning Noongar name to public park

Brendan Foster -

The City of Vincent is set to vote Tuesday night on whether to change Banks Reserve back to its original First Nations name – Warndoolier.

The city undertook extensive consultation with the community over the 3.5 ha reserve on the Swan River foreshore in Mt Lawley, bounded by Joel Terrace, the old East Perth Power Station and the Toni Di Scerni wetlands.

The city received 276 submissions with more than 55 per cent wanting Banks Reserve to be renamed Warndoolier.

Warndoolier means women's spirit and place where the spirit mist dwells.

The inner-city council also spent five years, working with Traditional Owners, the Vincent Boordiya Reference Group (VBRG), the Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group (RAPWG) and Aboriginal organisations in relation to Banks Reserve.

Banks Reserve is known for its cultural significance as a meeting place and camp for First Nations people. It's also officially recognised as a Place of Reconciliation.

Historic maps from the 1900s to 1940s show that the reserve's Noongar name was Warndulier.

The VBRG recently endorsed the preferred spelling of Warndoolier as it was easier for phonetic pronunciation than the previous spelling Warndulier.

The reserve was previously called Walter's Brook in the 1840s and Swan Street Reserve in the 1890s.

It was renamed Banks Reserve after City of Perth councillor Ronald Frederick Banks in 1963.

Former Vincent mayor Emma Cole told the media late last year, that Banks Reserve was a beautiful park with a deep history and cultural significance to the Noongar people.

"Warndoolier, located down by the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River), is one of our nine significant Aboriginal sites," she said.

"It's a beautiful park. It also has one of the best nature playgrounds and views in Vincent.

"This proposal marks our first step towards acknowledging Aboriginal culture through the reviving of the traditional names of our parks.

"Naming is a good way for our community to start to pick up some Noongar language and learn the meaning behind the words.

The city's Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2022-2024 includes bringing the Noongar language and names into public places by reviving traditional names of parks and reserves at significant sites, in consultation with local elders, stakeholders and the community.

There are nine significant Noongar sites in Vincent: Weld Square, Hyde Park, East Perth Power Station, the Derbarl Yerrigan (Swan River) at Banks Reserve, Stones Lake, Robertson Park, Carr Street, Dog Swamp and the former Lake Monger Velodrome.

If Vincent council votes to change the name of the park, the city will then need to make a submission to Landgate requesting Banks Reserve be renamed Warndoolier.

If the council is successful, it will be the first reserve in the city to have its First Nations name revived.

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