Mount Misery renamed Bilbiljim in recognition of Miriwoong people

  • Lake Argyle's Mount Misery renamed Bilbiljim in honour of Miriwoong people
  • Bilbiljim is the traditional Aboriginal name and means 'grasshopper dreaming'
  • Renaming to strengthen connection of traditional owners to this land

The East Kimberley's Mount Misery has a new name as of today - Bilbiljim, meaning 'grasshopper dreaming'.

Lands Minister Ben Wyatt has renamed Mount Misery, a mountain on the uninhabited Hagan Island in the idyllic Lake Argyle, to its original Miriwoong Aboriginal Dreaming name of Bilbiljim (pronounced Bil-bil-jim).

The Minister announced the name change today at Lake Argyle with a small ceremony with traditional owners.

The change of name follows a request from the traditional owners and the Yaworroong Miriuwung Gajerrong Yirrgeb Noong Dawang Aboriginal Corporation (MG Corporation) to the Shire of Wyndham-East Kimberley to change the name as it was an unacceptable and an inaccurate reflection of the importance of the land to the Miriwoong people.

The mountain range was named Mount Misery by Surveyor H.F. Johnson in 1885 due to what he referred to as a miserable time while his party camped there for six weeks waiting for a farrier's leg to heal from injury.

The name change will honour the Miriwoong language which is critically endangered with only a few fluent speakers alive today and help strengthen the connection to their cultural identity.

Comments attributed to Lands Minister Ben Wyatt:

"This is another significant step forward for the McGowan Government's commitment to working with traditional owners to acknowledge and secure the cultural identity of our first people.

"Reinstating the original traditional Aboriginal name - Bilbiljim - for this prominent landmark in Lake Argyle not only helps strengthen the Miriwoong people's connection to the land, but also cements its story in Western Australia's history.

"This recognition has been a long time coming and gives the traditional owners the great privilege, honour and respect they deserve.

"We will continue to work with the Aboriginal communities in Western Australia to ensure that Aboriginal places of significance and historical landmarks are honoured respectively, and they remain connected to country."

Comments attributed to Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer:

"Honouring local Aboriginal language through place naming is hugely important for the preservation of the cultural history of our lands.

"I'm delighted to see Mount Misery renamed to its original Aboriginal name - Bilbiljim.

"The mount now has a name worthy of its beauty and cultural history."

This page was last updated on: 02 Feb 2021