I fear there are too few (like Greg Hutchison and myself) who have strong feelings regarding the name of our highest mountain to influence the steamroller of political correctness. For the record, though, I send you some thoughts, including a copy of my letter to the Letters Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald which was not considered anywhere near topical enough to publish:
It is quite puzzling that no word of protest or comment has appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald concerning the renaming of Australia's highest mountain. Although, as everyone knows, it was named by Strzelecki in honour of the freedom fighter General Thaddeus Kosciuszko, its name has always been MOUNT KOSCIUSKO. The mountain is not getting its „z” back – the „z” was not dropped – it was never there!
Not in any English or Australian map – not even in the map Strzelecki published in his own book.
The name of the mountain has always been pronounced with four syllables, Kos-ci-us-ko or Koz-ee-os-ko:
„He hails from Snowy River, up by Kosciusko's side … Banjo would turn in his grave to have his story and his scanning messed up with ” Kosh-shoos-ko.
ALL TO NO AVAIL !
The spelling was changed – although not the pronunciation. The next problem is that at least it should not be given an aboriginal name which it never had. My old mate Klaus Hueneke received a friendly dose from me on this subject – in the following terms:
Firstly, it was named „Kosciusko” and that it should have remained. As for an aboriginal name, there is not the slightest evidence that it had an aboriginal name. There is absolutely no reason why it should have – just one bump on a mountain massif which they wouldn't know was any higher than any other and wouldn't have cared less.
The only reason for any names on the massif might be that you could get some good moths there if you didn't get frozen – maybe one peak was labelled with a sound that meant „grade A: bogong moths” and another „grade B: moths”, but even that there was any differentiation of bumps at all I think unlikely. I think that all those names from Youngal to Dargal to Targangil to Jagungal (Teangal) to all the other similar sounds was Bogong Moth stuff – maybe even the same sound.
But no doubt in the future some whites or some blacks will come up with some „secret women's business” which divulges some secret papers to reveal Mt Kosciusko's original name. For me (forgive my scepticism and cynicism) it will always be Mt Kosciusko, as it was named (as everyone knew to honour a pretty remarkable man Thaddeus Kosciuszko) and recorded on every official map (and all over the world) from the very beginning until last year when a parochial renaming took place.
At the turn of the century there were many players naming names and continually shifting ground. Old Spencer mentions Kosci as Tar-gan-gil, but of course he was actually talking about Mt Townsend. In any case the blacks probably called all the other peaks Tar-gan-gil too – bogong moth parlance, without a doubt. Mt Kosciusko signified the highest mountain in Australia.
The concept of a highest mountain of a continent is post eighteenth century. The aborigines did not have such a concept nor any way of ascertaining the highest mountain of Australia. Nor would they have cared. I care – and I don't want the highest mountain of my continent renamed after some bogong moth gluttony.
Kosciusko will do just fine, thank you!
Published in the KHA Newsletter No. 101 Spring 1998