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Shire Council moves to rename local reserve in acknowledgement of Indigenous culture

Callan Morse -

Sydney's The Hills Shire Council has moved to rename a local reserve to better acknowledge the area's Indigenous heritage.

It comes after councillors voted in favour of renaming of Withers Road Reserve to Kiliiyurraa Reserve, meaning 'turpentine tree' in the local Dharug language.

Council have indicated they will approach the Geographical Names Board proposing the change after a decision was made at an October Council meeting.

A significant drawcard of the proposed Kiliiyurraa Reserve is the significant vegetation on site, with the park boasting a plethora of Indigenous flora, with 44 native species identified across the reserve.

Among the species, the turpentine tree has been recognised as the most prominent and abundant species in the community space, hence the significance of its namesake.

The initiative has received significant support from Muru Mittigar Aboriginal Cultural and Education Centre, a local Indigenous social enterprise as well as Dharug Elders, who have strong connections to The Hills Shire.

"The use of the Dharug language on Dharug Country is a significant act of cultural preservation and identity for the Dharug people," a spokesperson from Muru Mittigar said.

The currently-named Withers Road Reserve reserve boasts a lively and interactive playground with a shade shelter, a half basketball court, and a spacious grassy area with picnic furniture and seating. (Image: supplied, The Hills Shire Council)

"It represents a deep connection to their heritage and a commitment to maintaining linguistic diversity.

"This practice not only honours their ancestors but also enriches the Australian cultural fabric, ensuring the Dharug language continues to thrive for future generations."

Dharug is a First Nations language spoken by the Dharug people who are traditional custodians of the land across Western Sydney, spanning from the Blue Mountains to Camden and The Hills Shire.

The Hills Shire mayor, Dr Peter Gangemi, said the renaming reflects Council's dedication to creating public spaces that resonate with the diverse history of the region.

"My first act as Mayor was to move a motion to deepen our connection with our First Nations people, our elders and with local Aboriginal community groups and organisations," Mayor Gangemi said.

"One of these initiatives was to name a park in The Hills Shire as a way of further recognising and honouring our Dharug community.

"We believe it's appropriate to honour the heritage of the land we inhabit, which has been cared for by our First Nations people for thousands of years, and the Kiliiyurraa Reserve proposal is a testament to that commitment."

Located in North Kellyville, the reserve was inaugurated in August 2023 and is now open to the community.

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