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Conn Island in Lake Macquarie renamed Beretta Island

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Coon Island and Coon Point in the NSW Hunter area will be renamed Pirrita Island and Miners Point following a divisive community debate about what is racist and what is not.

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Pirrita is the local Awabakal word for oysters from the mangrove tree, while Miners Point is a tribute to the coal-mining families who lived there between 1915 and 1974.

Lake Macquarie City Council voted final night to change the name, despite powerful community backlash from people who wanted to preserve the Cone Island name.

The area got its name following Herbert Greta Heaney, nicknamed “Conn,” who was the first person to live there in 1915.

It is widely believed that he earned this nickname because he was a coal miner who often returned from work with black coal dust on his confront.

An old blueprint map with the name Con Island written on it
This regional map shows Con Island.(

SUPPLIED: NSW Land Registry Services


The name change is lengthy overdue, said Kentan Proctor, acting chief executive of the Bhattaba Indigenous Lands Council.

“In the former it was obviously a little distinct, but the aborigines found the name Con Island to be downright racist, downright racist, frankly,” he said.

Society’s reaction is violent

The council’s community consultation process found that 938 out of 2,120 respondents supported the name change, but the majority of 1,182 were against it.

Pie chart showing 44% of people support vs 56% against it
A whole of 2,120 people participated in the community consultation process.(

Supplied: Lake Macquarie City Council


On a Facebook group called “Save the Coon Island. Abolitionist culture wants a name change” many people expressed frustration at what they claimed was erasing local history, waking up abolition culture, and political correctness becoming a craze.

It was disappointing, Mr. Proctor said, but not surprising.

“They forever talk about history, but[Conn Island]was only called in the 1940s,” he said.

“We’ve been here for 60,000 years and have a traditional name, so if you want to talk about history why don’t we talk about our name?

“Once the problem came up, I realized how rampant racism is in society, but… at fewest this shed some light on it and got the community talking, so that’s a pleasing point.

Aerial view of Con island surrounded by a lake with houses in the background
Coon Island is located near the town of Swansea.(

Supplied: Lake Macquarie Holiday Parks


At final night’s council meeting, Chancellor John Gilbert said the community discussion also caused non-native people to be offended.

“People here who call Con Island or Con Island or Cone are not racist,” he said.

“I think there was a distinguished deal of insult that they felt… by the fact that there was publicity and propaganda said that this is a racist name and this is racist slander.

During the consultation process, Herbert’s descendants Greta Heaney recognized the need for change and suggested the name Miners Point.

Black and white photo showing Con Island with houses on it
This photo of Con Island under a flood or during a king tide was taken circa 1962.(

Supplied: Gordon Humphries


chance to heal

The proposal was made by liberal advisor Kevin Baker who said it represented “a meeting and a time to heal.”

“We have rare occasions where we can stand as leaders within our community and support those who are being hurt,” he said.

Sign saying Welcome to Con Island
Con Island is now a nature reserve.(

Supplied: Facebook


“Tonight we have the aptitude to learn about our common history, both modern European history and 60,000 years of indigenous history.”

The movement was supported by Kay Fraser (ALP), Christine Buckley (ALP), Brian Adamthwaite (ALP), Barney Langford (ALP), David Belcher (ALP), Adam Shultz (ALP), and Wendy Harrison (ALP). IND).

He was opposed by council members John Gilbert (India), Jason Pauling (Lebanon), Luke Kubis (India), Colin Gregg (India) and Nick Jones (Lebanon).


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