With the exception of maybe German backpackers experiencing an ecstatic-bordering-on-religious moment of euphoria after a few caps at a rave in Airlie Beach, no one loves Queensland more than me. From our beaches to our rainforests to our deserts to Johnathan Thurston to our almost complete lack of winter, I love everything about the place. But I will also admit that we have a few problems.
Everywhere in Australia that was touched by settlers has a racist history by its very nature – the flow-on effects of which we still have a lot of work to overcome – but Queensland, it feels, is taking a bit longer to shake off the dust of its past than everywhere else. For whatever reason, the state has proved fertile ground for harvesting the country’s racist votes, paving the way for a fair chunk of One Nation‘s (sort-of) success and letting a huge fuckhead like George Christensen act like a dumbass without having to worry about the security of his seat.
But in the words of the Beatles song used as the theme song to the television show Better Homes and Gardens, we’re getting so much better all the time – at least in the area of some of our more racistly-named landmarks.
As the ABC is reporting, two mountains in central Queensland will have their official names changed back to those given to them by traditional Darumbal landowners. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Mount Jim Crow and Mount Wheeler will now officially be on the map as Baga and Gai-i, respectively.
The origin of the name of Mount Jim Crow is unclear (an essay from the late 1800s suggests it might have been the name of one of its early surveyors) but it’s associated to the deeply racist ‘Jim Crow’ segregation laws is, quite obviously, unavoidable. For its part, Mount Wheeler is believed to have been named after Frederick Wheeler, a policeman who took part in several massacres of Indigenous people in the 1800s.
As Darumbal elder Aunty Sally Vea Vea told the ABC, the time they’ve been named anything else has only been a tiny blip in their history:
The original names had been that way for 60,000 years but in the last 150 years they were changed.
The decision was reached after the traditional landowners spent years lobbying the state government for change. Good on ’em.