Recently Orange City Council supported the dual naming of Gaanha bula/Mount Canobolas.
Council is to be congratulated for doing so.
By supporting dual naming our Council shows that it is taking seriously the heritage value of Mount Canobolas and the implicit spiritual and environmental values attached to the mountain by the Wiradjuri nation, and hopefully, also by the wider Orange community.
Dual naming is an important step forward in showing respect for the thousands of years of cultural significance Gaanha bula represents to the members of the Wiradjuri nation.
It acknowledges the importance of the mountain as a place of meeting and ceremony, and through so naming announces to the wider community that the mountain is a special place and must be treated with respect.
It is well known that wild places are important for human health and wellbeing.
Research has shown that over 70 per cent of us spend time in national parks and other wild places each year in search of the sense of wellbeing that time in nature can provide.
Dual naming reinforces this sense of connectedness and spirituality which can come with immersion in wilderness. Our modern lifestyle disconnects us from the natural world. Our food comes from a supermarket, we travel from place to place in air-conditioned cars and our homes and gardens are mainly insulated from any idea of “wildness”.
Because of this there is within many of us a craving for the connectedness and spirituality through experiencing the “wildness” of places such as Gaanha bula.
Traditional First Nations naming of Gaanha bula also serves to remind us of how important it is to respect the environmental values of the mountain, the traditional observance of which has been the responsibility of the original custodians.
They realized the importance of looking after the mountain and of preserving its ecology. This is a responsibility we now must all share.
The symbolism of dual naming of Gaanha bula/Mount Canobolas is powerful and important.
It implies an acknowledgement and acceptance of the environmental, cultural, spiritual and heritage value of this iconic State Conservation Area and First Nations special place.
However, as well as offering support, there needs to be a commitment to preserving the values implicit in dual naming.
Our community and its leaders must demonstrate this commitment by ensuring that no activities or infrastructure are permitted on Gaanha bula that could compromise these values.
By Nick King. This post appeared as an article in the Earth First column of the Central Western Daily on Saturday September 10, 2022