Accessibility links

Breaking News

Australia to Rename National Park Linked to Slave Trade


The Australian aboriginal flag flies on a building in Sydney, Australia, Oct. 7, 2021.

A popular Australian national park is to be renamed because of its association with the slave trade in the mid-1800s.

The Ben Boyd National Park, 520 kilometers south of Sydney, is named after a 19th century Scottish colonialist.

Benjamin Boyd is considered Australia’s first “blackbirder.” This was the term given to business operators who transported Pacific Islanders to Australia, where they were paid minimal wages to evade anti-slavery laws.

The workers were often kidnapped or coerced into sailing to Australia.

Ben Boyd National Park covers about 50 kilometers of rocky coastline and sheltered inlets near the whale watching town of Eden. It is being renamed after the findings of an independent report showing Boyd’s links to the slave trade. The report found he shipped 192 men and women to eastern Australia to work on his estates and ships in 1847. The study also stated that a second voyage to the South Pacific ordered by the businessman ended in violence and the deaths of “numerous villagers.”

The decision to rename the park follows a long campaign by Pacific Island communities and Aboriginal groups.

New South Wales state environment minister Matt Kean says Boyd does not deserve to be honored.

“Ben Boyd was a scoundrel. He was involved in forcibly removing people from their homes and forcing them to work on his properties,” Kean said.

Consultations will soon begin with First Nations community leaders to find a new name for the park.

The practice of “blackbirding” became common in the Australian state of Queensland. It is estimated that about 62,000 men were brought to work on plantations in northern New South Wales and Queensland between 1863 and 1904.

Aboriginal leaders also want to have colonial place names and monuments removed across Australia, including more than 20 statues of European explorers in Sydney.

Australia was colonized by the British and became a penal colony in 1788.

Boyd was killed by islanders in the Solomon Islands in 1851.

XS
SM
MD
LG