Renaming of Gwynneville reserve contested

A history war has broken out over the renaming of Gwynneville's Spearing Reserve, with some residents concerned a new name could cancel out a slice of the region's convict past.

The family of well-known Wollongong community workers Efram and Giulia Bonacina hoped to name the reserve Bonacina Park in honour of the late couple's community work.

According to Mr and Mrs Bonacina's eldest daughter Marzia Zochil, they were told by Wollongong City Council the reserve was one of four parks available to be renamed.

But when the council put their proposal on public exhibition, residents raised concerns the new name would detach the reserve from its links to early European landowner James Spearing.

The botanic garden and the university are now on his original land.

"A preliminary review of the community feedback ... indicates that, although many people support some form of recognition of Mr and Mrs Bonacina and their contribution to the community, there is significant community attachment to the name Spearing Reserve," a council spokeswoman said.

"As such, the council will be working closely with the Bonacina family to investigate other options to appropriately provide formal recognition of Mr and Mrs Bonacina."

Mrs Zochil said she was "very, very disappointed" about the decision, and did not see why the name Bonacina Park could not coexist with Spearing Reserve.

She pointed out the park had retained its strong links to Aboriginal history and also ecological conservation.

"History is not static, but we can add to the past the present thus enriching the knowledge for the future generation," she said.

"It is not our intention to cancel the past."

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