Proposed name for new suburb could pay tribute to clan leader, region's history

Cultural heritage projects officer Sean Fagan.
Cultural heritage projects officer Sean Fagan.

BALLARAT’S newest suburb could pay tribute the region’s history. 

The Wadawurrung Aboriginal Corporation made the submission to name the area Mullawallah, to pay respect to one of the influential Wadawurrung leaders during the time of settlement. 

Cultural heritage projects officer Sean Fagan, a traditional owner of the land, said Mullawallah was the traditional name for the last known tribal man of the Burrumbeet Balug (the muddy water clan), also known as Frank Wilson. 

Mr Fagan said he was a significant clan leader during the time of settlement. 

“Because of the demise of the Wadawurrung people, many were moved away from the traditional land. 

“Mullawallah became known as King Billy and was known as the person the settlers could talk to.”

He said there were 25 clans at the time of settlement and a population of about 3000, although now only one, John Robinson, is known to have descendants, one of whom is Mr Fagan. 

He said the Wadawurrung language was used every day around Ballarat with names of areas, but none was named after a significant historical figure. 

“Ballarat, Buninyong, Wendouree, Burrumbeet and Warrenheip are all Wadawurrung words.”

Mr Fagan said although there had been some criticism of the name, people would adjust like they have to the other names of areas around the region. 

He said it was hard to respond to the criticism of the proposed name. 

“It’s disheartening to hear. I think, with more education, people will understand why it’s important.

“Nothing like this has happened since the 1800s. Surely we can move past this now. It’s out of respect for this man.”

Ballarat councillors will discuss and make a decision on the naming of the new suburb at Wednesday night’s meeting, with Mullawallah the recommendation

from the 51 submissions. 

The new area will rename a part of Delacombe, bound by Wiltshire Lane, the proposed alignment of the Ballarat Western Link Road, the Glenelg Highway and the Ballarat-Carngham Road. 

The proposed name has seen lots of polar views. Many have been supportive of the name, saying it is respectful of history, with others saying it sounds like a place in the middle of nowhere or somewhere they would not like to live.

nicole.cairns@fairfaxmedia.com.au