Photo: Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce unveils the Biddy Giles park signage with descendants of Biddy Giles.

MEDIA RELEASE - Legacy of Dharawal woman Biddy Giles honoured in Kirrawee park

More than 130 years after her passing, Dharawal woman Biddy Giles and her legacy as a towering figure in the history of the Sutherland Shire and beyond has been formally recognised, with the official naming of the Biddy Giles Park in Kirrawee conducted in her honour.

Sutherland Shire Council welcomed local residents and descendants of Biddy Giles to honour her memory and celebrate her renowned connection to Country, having shared her deep connection and extensive knowledge of the lands from the southern side of the Georges River to Wollongong with all she crossed paths with during her lifetime.

While the generations which followed Biddy Giles have carried the strong connection to Dharawal Country and culture forward, residents and visitors who pass through, or stop to play at the community park next to South Village, Kirrawee can now carry these connections forward too.

As part of the official naming ceremony, Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce joined several descendants of Biddy Giles in unveiling interpretive signage installed at the park – providing a lasting tribute to Biddy’s legacy among the local community.

“Biddy is remembered as a respected Dharawal woman who cared deeply for Dharawal Country and who is held in high regard by her descendants and the communities on the lands on which she lived and travelled,” Mayor Pesce said.

“Her ability to share her knowledge with others during her travels across this region allowed her to become well connected, particularly along the Botany Bay, Georges River and Port Hacking waterways.

“Since it’s opening in late 2019, this park has become a very popular community space, and we hope visitors will take a moment to pause and reflect on this inspiring woman’s story for years to come.”

In 2020, Sutherland Shire Council invited the community to provide feedback on names for the South Village park, which saw strong community feedback in return to support the ‘Biddy Giles Park’ name.

Of the nearly 2,200 submissions to Council during the consultation phase of the naming project, 81% per cent supported this name, and the consultation was marked as one of the highest participation rates in Council history.

“I’d like to thank Council staff, Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Sub-Committee, La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council, and Gujaga Foundation for their guidance and contributions to the naming proposal and signage,” Mayor Pesce said.

“And I’d like to extend a special thanks to everyone who contributed feedback to this park naming project in 2020. It’s great to see so many people taking an active interest in the naming of local places and facilities.”

The Biddy Giles Park includes accessible pathways, a playground, picnic facilities, landscaping, shade structure, an amphitheatre, seating and trees for shade.

Sutherland Shire Council acknowledges that the names given to places and facilities represent their significance through a sense of history, identity, and connection between people and a place. Council takes great care in considering suggestions for places and facilities and values the feedback from residents when opportunities arise for naming proposals. Residents are encouraged to provide feedback during the community consultation phase, to ensure names which are adopted hold great importance for the community.