Blockade Australia — the group responsible for massive traffic jams in Sydney when one of its members chained herself to her car’s steering wheel in the Harbour tunnel — is demanding the country change its name.
‘Australia is not the name of this continent,’ the group declared via social media this week.
If true, it would seem to represent something of a crisis for the activist group, since it would mean half their own name is redundant.
‘Australia doesn’t refer to this land, these waters, or the many communities that call this place home,’ they continued.
All of which raised the question, what should we call this land? More on that later.
‘Australia is the name of the economic and political systems which work to oppress and exploit this continent and its peoples. These systems are complex, corrupt and have been designed to maximise extraction and hierarchies of power. They have been in place since invasion.’
Or, in layman’s terms, ‘blah blah blah’.
Not Very Clever
As I said, Blockade Australia first came to public attention when one of its members locked herself in her car.
I think there’s a great argument to be made here that when you find your special talent in life, stick with it.
Don’t go branching out into history, or geography, or language, or trying to articulate intelligible thoughts. And I think that’s where Blockade Whatever has gone wrong.
They should have stayed in their lane (while chained to the steering wheel).
It will come as a shock for Blockheads Australia to learn that the so-called colonisers didn’t come up with the name Australia. For many centuries, Europeans believed there must be a vast land in the southern hemisphere, variously called ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ or ‘Unknown South Land’.
The name comes from Latin and simply means south land.
It’s not a right-wing conspiracy.
It’s a describing word.
A Bit of History
It wasn’t stuffy white Brits denying Indigenous people naming rights. Far from it. The Indigenous inhabitants of Australia hadn’t conceived of themselves as a people, or conceived of the land as a continent.
They dwelt in tribes, located in regions.
According to the National Library of Australia, the first recorded use of the name Australia was on a map drawn in 1545.
Then in the early 1600s, a Portuguese explorer, with backing from the Spanish government, went looking for Australia del Espiritu Santos — the Great Southland of the Holy Spirit.
It was the English explorer Matthew Flinders, the first man to circumnavigate the continent in 1803, used the name ‘Australia’ to describe the continent on a hand-drawn map in 1804.
So what would Blockade Australia like to be called?
Gondwana was the name given to the supercontinent — an enormous land mass combining what is now Africa, South America and Australia — thought to have existed before the Jurassic era, a time when members of Blockade Australia would have been considered only slightly intellectually inferior to the stegosaurus.
Originally published at The James Macpherson Report.
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Photo by Catarina Sousa.