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The Roar



A great sporting nation deserves great sporting states

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Roar Guru
21st June, 2020

As the Black Lives Matter movement has spread across the world, statues of unsavoury historical figures are being toppled all over the place.

Now the attention of some is being directed to the names of some of Australia’s states such as Victoria and Queensland, while Tasmania could also be on the chopping block.

Victoria was named after the Queen of the same name, while Queensland only got that name because Victoria was already taken. As for Tasmania, that state was named after Abel Tasman, who was in the service of the East India Company. Then you have the other states whose names just sound a bit dull.

A news poll conducted on the issue found that 93 per cent of respondents were opposed to the idea of changing the name of Victoria, so it’s fair to describe it as a fringe issue. But maybe this attitude would change if states were named after people who unify the country, like our great sporting legends.

Victoria could change its name to Benaud, after the greatly admired spin bowler and frequently mimicked cricket commentator. With a name that has French spelling and a pronunciation that sounds like an Australian nickname for someone called Ben, it sounds a little bit cultured but also still Aussie. I think it suits them rather well.


(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

The sunshine state of Queensland has produced many great sportspeople to choose from with figures such as Greg Norman, Kieran Perkins, Cathy Freeman, Pat Rafter, Darren Lockyer, Mick Doohan, Karrie Webb, Adam Scott, Anna Meares and Ian Healy to name but a few.

All of these would be worthy contenders, but an unexpected name popped up from out of nowhere at the last minute who beats all of them: Steven Bradbury. A speed skater who was born in Sydney and whose exploits are comparable to those of Eddie the Eagle and the fabled Jamaican bobsled team must surely be worthy of having a state named after him.

Tasmania is a lot more parochial and wouldn’t tolerate being named after someone from out of state, but they do have some good options of their own. World champion wood chopper David Foster has to be right up there, while Ricky Ponting is well regarded too. Then you have AFL stars like Ian Stewart, Royce Hart, Peter Hudson and Darrel Baldock.


But coming back to cricket, the player who stands out the most to me is David Boon, who’s a real Aussie character. You might even say that naming the state after him could be a “Boon” to their economy.

David Boon poses after being inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Turning to the states with dull names, I’ll start with New South Wales, which doesn’t even look anything like the south of Wales. The guy who came up with that one must have been at sea for a bit too long.

Anyway, for a new name, I think that it should be named after Cathy Freeman, who the whole of Australia got behind as they watched on TV during the Sydney Olympics. She brought the whole nation together and would seem like a solid gold choice.

Cathy Freeman

(Photo by Tony Marshall/EMPICS via Getty Images)

Next up is South Australia, which someone once suggested should change its name to Bradman after the man who was unquestionably the greatest ever Test cricket batsman. Sounds good to me. Can’t go wrong there.

Over to the west, the unimaginatively titled Western Australia could go with something more interesting, like Brabham. The three times Formula One world champion Jack Brabham, who in the 1966 series won in a car of his own make will never be forgotten.

As for the territories, the predictably named Northern Territory is a place that has water full of crocodiles, sharks, stingrays and box jellyfish. You’d need to be a good swimmer to get back to shore quickly enough before something kills you if you fell in. Therefore, Ian Thorpe could lend his name to the place if it achieves statehood.


The technocratically named Australian Capital Territory could also use an upgrade. The sportsperson that I’d name it after would be Sam Kerr.

Sam Kerr backflip new Matildas kit

(Image: Supplied, Nike)

Not only is she a great member of the Matildas, but her name also goes well in a place that’s known for the dismissal of Gough Whitlam that was carried out by a certain Governor General who she happens to share her name with. I’m sure he would agree with my choice if he was alive today and Sam would no doubt be known as Kerr’s Kerr.

Finally, on the topic of new states, it’s pretty obvious that North Queensland should call itself Thurston. It doesn’t take much effort to come up with that one.

With a line-up of names like Benaud, Bradbury, Freeman, Boon, Bradman, Brabham, Thorpe, Kerr and Thurston I’m sure my proposal should manage to get plenty of public approval.

It’s time to move on from the antiquated names of the past, it’s time for healing, it’s time to move forward, yes it’s time.

For a sporting nation such as Australia, the names of our states should reflect our great sporting heritage. Sport is our national religion. Sport is what brings us all together as a people. Sport is what defines our very identity. In sport we trust.

You know it makes sense. I’m Nick Symonds.