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Australia

Campaign kicks off to give Stirling Highway an Aboriginal name

A campaign to drop the name of Western Australia's first governor from one of Perth's main roads has kicked off, with an anthropologist arguing Stirling Highway, which connects Perth to Fremantle through the city's leafy western suburbs, shouldn't be named after an "old white guy".

The road, which has been named after Governor James Stirling since 1932, should bear an Aboriginal name and drop any reference to the man who had links to the 1834 Pinjarra massacre, according to Claremont-based Emily Egerton-Warburton.

First governor of Western Australia, Captain James Stirling.

First governor of Western Australia, Captain James Stirling.

"There are lots of references to Stirling all over Perth, I don't thing he's going to be forgotten, I'm just saying it seems like a good time now to at least make one change as a symbolic gesture towards reconciliation with Noongar people," Ms Egerton-Warburton told Oliver Peterson on 6PR's Perth Live.

"I think this is an offence that needs to be listened to."

"We wouldn't name a road after Martin Bryant, the gunman in Tasmania."

First known as the Perth-Fremantle Road, Ms Egerton-Warburton said the Pinjarra massacre was a shocking incident in WA's history.

In October, 1834, Governor Stirling led the expedition of 25 soldiers and settlers, which resulted in the deaths of dozens of Aboriginal men, women and children on the banks of the Murray River near Pinjarra.

In 2017, an unsuccessful campaign to rename the Peel Region came to an end when Premier Mark McGowan ruled out the change.

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The Peel Region was named after Thomas Peel, a prominent landowner who was also linked the Pinjarra massacre.

Ms Egerton-Warburton told 6PR one of Perth's main arterial roads should not remind people of genocide.

"It's a shocking memory and a shocking image," she said.

"I don't think it's anything to be proud of and I don't think it's a memory that easily fades away for Noongar people."

Although she said it should be up to Aboriginal people to decide what to name the road, she suggested the name of a bird might be suitable.

Stirling Highway was called the Perth-Fremantle Road before it was changed by the state government in 1932.

"I think you could have a lot of fun with it, naming it after plant or an animal, rather than a old white guy," Ms Egerton-Warburton said.

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