Residents of the developing housing estates on the western side of Kembla Grange have branded Wollongong council's proposed renaming of their suburb a "McFailure".
Taking aim at the shortlisted names, which include McPhail and Guwara, some residents of the Sanctuary View, Lindon View and Kembla Grange estates have asked the council to reconsider.
"A lot of the names they've chosen are not easy to spell and it's going to cause a headache for residents," Melissa Cicero, who is building a house in the area and spoke at Monday night's meeting about the naming proposal, said.
"McPhail just sounds like a surname, it doesn't sound like a suburb name and you've got all these trolls online already saying things like you live in a Macca's suburb [in reference to the current court battle over whether West Dapto should have a McDonald's], or that McFail with an F means it's a McFailure suburb."
Ms Cicero and her family bought land in the Kembla Grange Estate last month. Just days after her property settlement, she says she was horrified to see the list of potential names the council put forward as they were "difficult to pronounce, spell and had derogatory connotations that would affect the resale values of properties of our homes".
"It makes it sound like we are living in a failed suburb and will cause much angst for residents," she said.
"I'm mostly concerned that - because this whole process was run during the height of COVID - the community who are directly affected by this name change haven't had their chance to have a say. We as residents have a right to our future home that we are proud to say."
The council revealed via social media in early March that it was planning to divide the suburbs of Kembla Grange, Huntley and Avondale in half, as they were growing too large and need to be split to meet NSW Government suburb guidelines.
The eastern part of Avondale, southern part of Huntley and eastern part of Kembla Grange were all recommended to stay with their exisiting names, but new names would be selected for the remaining parts of the suburbs.
The names on the short list - developed in consultation with the Geographical Names Board, Aboriginal groups and community members - were Murrindarry (Dharawal for "the mountain"), Woolangurry (the track over the mountain), Lindsay (long term residents of West Dapto), Murringah (coal), Guwara (high winds) and McPhail (the family received an original land grant in Kembla Grange).
Thirroul is an Aboriginal name and I'm sure that when it was proposed to be named that, there would have been residents going 'what's this weird name'. Now everyone knows where it is and everyone can pronounce it. We need to be very very careful about rejecting any Aboriginal names."Councillor Janice Kershaw
On Monday night, Ms Cicero and another future resident of the area, Sandra Etryk spoke at the council's public access forum, asking councillors for the chance to create new short list of names, removing both Guwara and McPhail.
Ms Cicero said names which were suggested but excluded from the short list, like Edenfield and Newton Park, could be considered.
Ms Etryk said who grew up in Horsley, said she was always embarrassed by the name of her suburb growing up, and didn't want that for her own children.
She said both suggested names for the western part of Kembla Grange were "inappropriate" and wanted to keep the name of the suburb as it is.
At the meeting, Cr Ann Martin asked that the six-week exhibition of the short list be used to give residents who were opposed to the suggested names the chance to have their say and come up with other names they were more comfortable with.
However, she did warn that the council was not renaming the suburbs "for fun" but that it needed to be split the suburbs as West Dapto grows. She also noted the council had to abide by the legal requirements of the GNB to choose a name.
Janice Kershaw said she was supportive of Cr Martin's suggestion, but said she did not think that not being able to pronounce a suburb name was a reason to exclude it.
She noted many Wollongong suburbs, like Unanderra, Bulli and Woonona, were difficult for outsiders to say.
"Thirroul is an Aboriginal name and I'm sure that when it was proposed to be named that, there would have been residents going 'what's this weird name'," she said.
"Now everyone knows where it is and everyone can pronounce it. We need to be very very careful about rejecting any Aboriginal names."
Likewise, Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he thought it was problematic to exclude any Aboriginal names, which has been selected in consultation with indigenous groups.
Council staff will work with western Kembla Grange residents to look at other naming options, and councillors will have the chance to reconsider the community's suggested names before the new suburb is named.