Getting to know Gadigal: introducing the Traditional Place name of Sydney

A proud Gadigal (gad-i-guhl) Elder from the Eora (ee-orr-ah) nation, Uncle Allen Madden has long shared the Indigenous history of Sydney with others. Today, he’s delighted that Sydney’s Traditional Place name—Gadigal—can now also be shared with others when addressing letters and parcels through Australia Post.

The story behind the Traditional Place name, Gadigal

“Gadi comes from Cadi (kad-i), which is our name for the grass trees we used to make weapons,” explains Uncle Allen, “And Gal (guhl) means people, so we are the people of the Cadi—Gadigal.”

The Gadigal people are one of seven clans from coastal Sydney who speak the same language and make up what is known as the Eora nation.

A much loved and respected figure who is often called on to give the traditional Welcome to Country at events, Uncle Allen is also a business owner and has been on the board of Sydney Foreshore Authority, the Central Coast Aboriginal Heritage and many others.

For him, having Traditional Place names acknowledged on Australia Post letters and packages is a great way to share knowledge and culture.

“It’s a really good idea,” enthuses Uncle Allen. “Some people just go by postcodes, but wouldn't it be more interesting to use the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander name that you could be proud of?”

For Uncle Allen, having everyone use Traditional Place names brings us closer together. “We’re all Australians and this is our history,” he says. “You have to know where you come from to know where you’re going.”

Gadigal Elder, Uncle Allen Madden, smiles at camera on Gadigal land with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the distance behind him.
Gadigal Elder Uncle Allen Madden in Gadigal/Sydney

Introducing Traditional Place names at Australia Post

To mark NAIDOC Week in November 2020, Australia Post updated the addressing guidelines to include Traditional Place names—a step forward in acknowledging and celebrating the long-lasting connection of Indigenous Peoples to the land.

Following on from Gomeroi (guum-a-roy) woman Rachael McPhail championing the idea on social media, we have seen an outpouring of interest and support for the initiative from the public.

To build on this important initiative, Australia Post has created an empowering video on what Traditional Place names mean to Indigenous peoples—in their own words.

The video features Indigenous Elders, like Uncle Allen, as well as Indigenous community leaders and business owners, sharing and celebrating Indigenous language and inspiring everyone to use Traditional Place names.

For Uncle Allen all Australians using Traditional Place names when addressing letters or parcels through Australia Post is part of embracing Indigenous culture.

“Using Traditional Place names is all about teaching Australians about our culture,” says Uncle Allen. “This is our place and it's all about letting people know where they are and who we are.”

Sharing names, sharing knowledge

Welcome to Country CEO, Desmond Campbell, smiles at camera while holding a Welcome to Country sticker.