Park names policy

Place names are part of the heritage of NSW and can reflect the history, culture and landscape of an area.

Kamay Botany Bay National Park interpretive sign Place names are often very meaningful to local communities. They also help guide park visitors and emergency services to parks and locations within them.


  1. Naming of parks, features and facilities will be used to recognise and acknowledge natural values and cultural connections to places, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
  2. Parks, except historic sites and Aboriginal areas, will usually be named after a prominent natural (geographic) feature in the local landscape. The local Aboriginal name of the feature is preferred.
  3. Parks may be given a name other than a geographic feature if there is a strong historic or cultural connection that should be reflected in the name.
  4. Historic sites will be named after the place, event, person or persons they commemorate.
  5. Aboriginal areas and Aboriginal places may be given an Aboriginal name nominated by local Aboriginal communities.
  6. Parks, features and facilities must not be named after living people (except for facility names currently already recognised by the local community). They may only be named after a deceased person to commemorate a person who contributed significantly to the park or locality in which the facility is situated, such as an explorer, scientist or conservationist, or an Aboriginal person known to have been from the park’s locality. Prior ownership of the land is not in itself grounds for the application of the owner's name to a park or facility.
  7. Consistent with the Memorials in Parks Policy, parks, features and facilities must not be named after donors, benefactors, sponsors, politicians, public figures or other people, except where names are consistent with paragraphs 4 or 6 of this policy. They must not be named after organisations or companies. Names must not be used if they could be construed as advertising a commercial or industrial enterprise or product.
  8. Names considered offensive or likely to give offence will not be used.

  9. Dual naming of parks, geographical features and cultural sites will be used in accordance with the department’s Aboriginal Dual Names Policy (internal document available to staff) as a meaningful way of recognising Aboriginal connection to the lands while retaining an existing name that has community acceptance.
  10. Names will be investigated and assigned in consultation with all relevant persons and groups. Refer to research and consultation section below.
  11. No Aboriginal name, other than a name registered with the Geographical Names Board of NSW, will be adopted without consulting and seeking support of the appropriate Aboriginal people, usually traditional owners or Elder groups.
  12. Wilderness areas will be named in a way consistent with the overall intent of this policy and with particular reference to paragraphs 1 to 11 of this policy.


13-16. Legislative powers and responsibilities

  1. Under section 30A of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act), park names are assigned by and can be changed by the Governor, with the concurrence of the Geographical Names Board of NSW.
    The naming of parks reserved under Part 4A (Aboriginal Land) of the NPW Act does not require concurrence with the Geographical Names Board of NSW.
  2. The Geographical Names Board of NSW assigns names to places and natural features under the Geographical Names Act 1966. NPWS must submit any park naming proposal to the Geographical Names Board of NSW for concurrence under section 12 of the Geographical Names Act 1966. The Board’s guidelines have been considered in the development of this policy.
  3. Public roads are named by the relevant roads authority under section 162 of the Roads Act 1993. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is not a roads authority and cannot name these roads.
  4. However, there is no legislation governing the naming of park roads, management trails or park facilities, and so NPWS can name these.
    Further information on responsibilities is included in the accountabilities table in this policy.
  1. NPWS will consult the relevant National Parks and Wildlife Regional Advisory Committee and Aboriginal Joint Management Committee or Board on all park names and on a facility name (if there is a proposal to name it after a person, or in other circumstances where advice is needed).
  2. NPWS will consult local Aboriginal community members, including traditional owners on proposed names of Aboriginal origin, and on proposals to name Aboriginal areas and Aboriginal places, or facilities within Aboriginal areas and Aboriginal places.
  3. Consultation with Aboriginal people for the purposes of clause 18 will preferably occur through representative organisations, but must include traditional owners. The following will also apply:
  • Where there is an Aboriginal joint management arrangement, the relevant processes in that agreement should be followed.
  • Where native title is determined, native title holders must be consulted.
  • Where there is not an Aboriginal joint management agreement, consultation with Aboriginal people should be inclusive unless there has been a statutory process, such as registration of Aboriginal owners or a determination of native title. 
  • The Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee (ACHAC) established under the NPW Act will be consulted (preferably following completion of the above consultation processes). 
  1. Spelling of Aboriginal names will be in accordance with current guidelines from the Australia and New Zealand Working Group on Place Names. Where there is doubt concerning the spelling of an Aboriginal name a linguist may also be consulted, but the spelling nominated by local Aboriginal community members will be preferred.
  2. Heritage NSW may also be contacted to assist with naming proposals sourced from Aboriginal communities, as well as the naming of historic sites and Aboriginal areas and Aboriginal places. Local and state historical associations may also be consulted.
  3. NPWS will consult the Geographical Names Board of NSW on proposals to name park roads and management trails.
  4. For naming World Heritage properties and Ramsar wetlands, NPWS will consult the relevant Commonwealth agency.
  5. Public consultation will be undertaken if required by the Geographical Names Board of NSW (for example, for park names) and may also be undertaken for other naming proposals. Where consultation is required, proposals will be advertised in the local press inviting public comment, for which a minimum of one month will be allowed.
  6. If any objections are received to a naming proposal, they will be summarised in the naming submission and the branch director will attempt to resolve them. If objections are raised in relation to Aboriginal names, refer to paragraph 11 of this policy.
  7. The origin of the chosen name and the consultation undertaken must be recorded. The guidelines for developing naming/renaming proposals (internal document available to staff) will assist staff in collecting and documenting the information required by the Geographical Names Board of NSW for park and place names, and will help in providing a historical record of the origin of names in parks.
  8. Where NPWS assigns a name to a park road or management trail, it must notify the following people and organisations of the name:
  • NSW Rural Fire Service
  • Local council
  • NSW Spatial Services
  • Australia Post
  • NSW Land Registry Services
  • Surveyor General of NSW
  • Ambulance Service of NSW
  • Fire and Rescue NSW
  • NSW Police Force
  • NSW State Emergency Service
  • NSW Volunteer Rescue Association.
  1. Where there is no prominent local geographic feature, or where it is inappropriate to use its name, alternative names may be sourced from:
  • a natural feature, regardless of prominence, that is associated with the area
  • a plant or animal that features in the park
  • other Aboriginal associations with the area (including the name of the traditional Aboriginal people)
  • historic names, such as:
    • names of former properties or state forests, provided that they are not the same as a current forest or property name
    • names of prominent people historically associated with the area (for instance, Kosciuszko National Park and Sturt National Park).
  1. Naming of historic sites and other parks and facilities of historic significance will be consistent with the documentation requirements contained within the Burra Charter.
  2. The same name may be used for adjoining parks of different categories (for example, Mutawintji National Park, Mutawintji Historic Site, Mutawintji State Conservation Area and Mutawintji Nature Reserve), to indicate that the parks are part of a single management area.
  3. To minimise confusion, avoid:
  • the name of nearby towns, suburbs, local council areas, state forests or other reserves that are not part of the same management area
  • the name of features that extend well beyond the park as these lack precision in describing the location of the park
  • names that are common in a number of locations within the same region (for example, Deep Creek).
  1. Names should be reasonably easy to pronounce, spell and write, and preferably of no more than 50 characters.
  2. The apostrophe mark should be omitted in the possessive case (for example, Howes Valley, not Howe’s Valley). This is to facilitate the consistent matching and retrieval of place names in database systems such as those used by the emergency services and is consistent with the policy of the Geographical Names Board of NSW.
  3. Hyphens, slashes and diacritical marks will not be used, except in the case of dual names, where a hyphen is acceptable.
  1. A dual name can be assigned to a park where there is strong evidence of a pre-existing Aboriginal place name.
  2. The NPW Act allows only one name (i.e. not multiple names) to be assigned to a park. Dual names (i.e. hyphenated or joint names) are deemed to be one name. For example, Gaagal Wanggaan (South Beach) National Park is a dual name.
  3. Preference will be given to local Aboriginal names being ordered first for all localities, geographic features or places, e.g. Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Both the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal components of the dual name shall be in the same typeface, size, style and colour.
  4. The Geographical Names Board of NSW may assign a dual name to the natural feature after which a park is named. Where such a dual name is registered by the Geographical Names Board of NSW, NPWS will assess whether the park should be renamed in line with the new dual name. However, a Geographical Names Board of NSW registration of a dual name for a feature does not automatically require that the park be renamed with either an Aboriginal or dual name.
  5. Requests may be made to the Geographical Names Board of NSW for dual naming of a geographical feature within a park that has cultural significance.
  6. The Geographical Names Board of NSW also requires the written support of the local council for dual naming proposals.
  1. Renaming (other than dual naming) will be considered where:
  • the current name is not in accordance with this policy
  • the spelling of the name is incorrect (unless the current spelling has been in use for a long period of time)
  • a non-Aboriginal name is currently used and a new name sourced from Aboriginal communities is proposed
  • a wrong or inappropriate name has been used
  • local Aboriginal community members object to the use of a name that has been sourced from an Aboriginal language
  • the park has been expanded and now incorporates a more appropriate prominent natural feature
  • it is proposed to amalgamate, including through re-categorisation, two or more adjacent parks (that is, apply an existing park name to an adjoining park and discontinue use of name of the park subsumed)
  • the current name is being confused with a similar feature in the region.
  1. Details of discontinued park names will be recorded with the Geographical Names Board of NSW.

Policy adopted 24 May 2017
Policy last updated June 2022

Scope and application

This policy applies to all lands acquired or reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) except for lands reserved under Part 4A of the Act (unless the Board of Management for those lands has adopted the policy). However, NPWS staff can use the policy as guidance in their dealings with Boards of Management.


This policy is aimed at ensuring that the names of parks, features and facilities within parks:

  • recognise and acknowledge values of the natural environment, as well as historic and cultural connections
  • assist visitors finding their way to and around parks, to enhance their experience and protect their safety
  • reinforce the objectives, identity and brand of NPWS-managed reserves.


Aboriginal area means lands that have been reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 for the purpose of preserving, protecting and preventing damage to Aboriginal objects or Aboriginal places therein.

Aboriginal place means any place declared to be an Aboriginal place under section 84 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. Aboriginal places are declared over lands that are of special significance to Aboriginal people.

Facilities means an area within a park that is not a natural geographic area, for instance precincts or buildings and structures such as day-use areas, campgrounds, carparks, lookouts, management trails, walking tracks and visitor centres.

Fire trail means a road recorded in the NPWS Asset Maintenance System (AMS) as having fire-strategic importance. Fire trails are a subset of management trails and can be required for other park management purposes.

Historic site means lands that have been reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 due to their association with a person, event or historical theme, or because they contain a building, place, feature or landscape of cultural significance.

Management trail means a trail managed by NPWS for fire management and other park management purposes – some management trails are not open to vehicular use by the public.

Park means a reserve gazetted under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, including a national park, nature reserve, historic site, Aboriginal area, state conservation area, karst conservation reserve, regional park or any land acquired by the Minister under Part 11 of the Act. 

Park road means roads reserved as part of a park that are open to the public, although they can be closed for park management purposes. They are maintained by NPWS.

Public roads are not part of the park and are designated as public roads under the Roads Act 1993, or under other legislation for the purpose of the Roads Act.

Ramsar wetlands means sites listed under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance 1971 (commonly known as the Ramsar Convention). Of the twelve Ramsar sites in NSW, nine are situated wholly or partly on lands reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

World Heritage property means a site of outstanding universal value included on the World Heritage List established under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (the World Heritage Convention).


This section outlines NPWS staff with significant responsibilities for ensuring implementation of the policy.

Accountability Position
14. Submitting park naming proposals to the Geographical Names Board of NSW for concurrence.  Team Leader, Land Information, Reserve Establishment Unit
16. Naming of park roads and management trails. Director
17-26. Ensuring appropriate consultation is carried out and records kept  Area Manager
27. Completing the notifications listed following the naming of park roads and management trails. Area Manager
42. Submission of discontinued park names to Geographical Names Board.  Branch Director