Aboriginal community names CSIRO telescope

By June 2nd, 2011

The first six antennas of CSIRO’s Australian SKA Pathfinder telescope in Western Australia will today receive names in the local Wajarri language.

The names have been chosen by the Wajarri people and will be bestowed by representatives of seven Aboriginal families at a ceremony at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory, about 315 km northeast of Geraldton.

Name plaques will be fixed to each antenna. Further naming will take place as more antennas are installed and eventually all 36 of ASKAP’s antennas will have a Wajarri name.

“These names will be a permanent reminder that this is the land of the Wajarri people.”

Chair of Wajarri Yamatji Native Title Group, Gavin Egan

The antenna names are: Bilyarli (which means “galah”, and is also the name of a past Wajarri Elder, Mr Frank Ryan); Bundarra (stars); Wilara (the Moon); Jirdilungu (the Milky Way); Balayi (a lookout, as this antenna looks down westward to others); and Diggidumble (a nearby table-top hill).

“These names will be a permanent reminder that this is the land of the Wajarri people,” said the Chair of Wajarri Yamatji Native Title Group, Gavin Egan.

Roads and other significant structures will also be given Wajarri names.

One of the roads will be called Ngurlubarndi, the Wajarri name for Fred Simpson, a past Wajarri Elder and father of Wajarri Elder, Ike Simpson.

CSIRO’s ASKAP Director, Antony (“Ant”) Schinckel has also been given a Wajarri name —”Minga”, which means “ant”.

In March CSIRO awarded McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd the contract to construct support infrastructure at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

The work involves the construction of several kilometres of access roads and tracks, power and data distribution, a central control building, and foundation pads for the rest of the 36 antennas that will be installed on the site by early 2012.

The MRO is located in the Mid West region of Western Australia. As well as being home to ASKAP, it is also the Australia – New Zealand candidate core site for the future $2.5bn Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project.

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