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 First Nations 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.
Video: A bearded man wears a shirt with an Aboriginal design, traditional white paint on his face and arms, and a feathered headband. He stands by a stone wall with a view of the Brisbane River and the skyscrapers beyond.
Audio: Man: This place? This is Meanjin. On Yuggera Turrbal Country, it means the spearhead in the Brisbane River.
Video: A woman with greying hair and glasses stands overlooking the Yarra River in Melbourne. A train trundles across a bridge. The dome of Flinders Street Station stands tall near Federation Square.
Audio: Woman: This place is Naarm. In Woiwurrung Ngulu, it means 'place'.
Video: A man with a grey beard and hair stands by Sydney Harbour, the bridge and opera house in the background. He rests his hand against the trunk of a large tree, then gazes out over the shining harbour. Looking up at the tree's broad canopy, he laughs.
Audio: Man: This is Gadigal. It comes from the word 'Gadi', our name for the grass trees we use to make weapons.
Video: Darwin buildings are decorated with murals. On a broad beach, a burly man rests his hand against a rocky cliff face. His other arm is missing from above the elbow. His feet leave deep prints in the golden sand. He runs sand through his fingers. Standing under the bright sun, he spreads his arms wide.
Audio: Man: And this place here is Gulumoerrgin. It's a Larrakia word for 'our land'.
Video: A young dark-haired woman emerges from a Magpie Goose store and spreads her arms wide. Her pink dress is printed with First Nations fish designs. Colourful clothes in First Nations designs are displayed on shelves and racks. Clothes are packed. The Australia Post label includes "Quandamooka Country".
Audio: Woman: We want to live in a country that honours and celebrates our First Peoples. Using Traditional Place names is one way to do that.
Video: In a back room for Clothing the Gaps, a First Nations T-shirt is packed. The address label includes "Wurundjeri Country". Staff carry sacks of parcels to a waiting Australia Post driver. A woman wearing First Nations clothes and accessories holds up a cloth that's printed with Traditional Place names.
Audio: Woman: Next time you're sending a parcel with Australia Post and you're writing down the Traditional Place names, what you're actually doing is you're acknowledging and you're paying respect to the true custodians of this country, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Video: A young dark-haired woman wears socks decorated with a stylised Aboriginal flag. First Nations campaign slogans decorate her shorts and posters on the walls. She clicks her heels. A First Nations man with curly grey hair grins. A wide range of products featuring First Nations designs are taken from shelves and packed. The address label includes "Gadigal Land." The man holds up a sign that reads, "Welcome to Country".
Audio: Man: Because Australia Post acknowledges Traditional Place names all around Australia, it allows language and culture to be brought in to people's everyday lives.
Video: In a large store, a young dark-haired man wears a T-shirt emblazoned "House of Darwin". He points to a shop sign. Merchandise features the words, "You are on Larrakia Land," or a map of Australia with a smiley face filling the Northern Territory. Skateboard decks are decorated with First Nations art.
Audio: Man: We celebrate First Nations people through everything that we do. House of Darwin is all about storytelling, so you might see on all of our T-shirts different graphics and iconography that we pull from different stories around the communities and then portray over different garments.
Video: Text on a red screen reads, "To learn more about Traditional Place names, go to auspost.com.au/ourplace."
Audio: Voiceover: Embrace your place. Australia Post. Delivering for all Australians.
Video: The Australia Post logo appears above the words, "Delivering for all Australians."
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.”
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 First Nations 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
Sharing knowledge and culture is something that’s close to the heart of Desmond Campbell, proud Gurindji (goo-rin-jee) and Ngalakan (na-la-kun) man and CEO of Gadigal’s Welcome to Country.
“Welcome to Country is a not-for-profit organisation whose purpose is to address economic and employment outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” explains Desmond.
”We celebrate people and culture in our business by having 75% First Nations-identified employees working with First Nations entrepreneurs, which allows them to stay on Country to continue practicing their culture.”
For Desmond, embracing Traditional Place names aligns with everything they stand for.
“It's important to use Traditional Place names in Australia because it's a way of embracing a language and culture that's over 50,000 years old. We use Traditional Place names in our business and packaging by allowing the customer to choose to use Traditional Place names when they send packages. We estimate 50% of our customers choose to do that.”
A marketplace for First Nations experiences and products, Welcome to Country shares culture every day. But Desmond sees the power in embracing the use of Traditional Place names when addressing parcels and letters through Australia Post to spread First Nations culture even further.
“Something that has stayed sacred is now shared with the world,” says Desmond. “Australia Post acknowledging Traditional Place names all around Australia brings language and culture into people's everyday lives.”
Embrace your place: start using Traditional Place names on your parcels today
To find an area’s Traditional Place name, check the map on the AIATSIS website or get in touch with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Councils or Cultural Centres in your area.