Scrolling through her Facebook feed, Celeste came across an ad for Sunbury’s Goona Warra Vineyard, which she screenshot and posted it to her page to give her friends a laugh.
“I had driven past it in Sunbury and I saw the name and it amused me and so when I did come across it [on Facebook], well you know, I knew what ‘goona’ means,” Celeste said, still laughing.
For those who don’t know, ‘goona’ means ‘poo’ or ‘shit’ across many Aboriginal language dialects, and ‘warra’ means ‘crazy’.
“I sort of said, what does ‘warra’ mean around Victoria, you lot? And pretty much confirmed what I thought has happened, which you know, some blackfulla probably told them some fibs many years ago about name origins,” Celeste said.
One of Celeste’s friends said that in their language, ‘worra’ means ‘no good’ or ‘scary’.
It was established in 1863, but it’s unclear how long the winery has held the name Goona Warra. Their website claims that the words mean ‘black swan’ in the local Aboriginal dialect – Wurundjeri.
NITV’s enquires to the Wurundjeri Tribe Land Council confirmed that the words Goona Warra do in fact mean what Celeste and her friends thought.
“It depends on the way they spell it because we have a word ‘gunuwarry’ which means ‘swan’,” Aunty Gail Smith said.
After telling Aunty Gail the story, she did a quick Google search on the vineyard in question.
“I just what's-a-named it in on Google and on their picture it’s got the words together. It’s got no space, but I wonder how they got… I might have to ring them and tell them,” she said, after a good chuckle.
It wouldn’t be the first time blackfullas have played tricks on the European settlers. According to an article by Jane Simpson for Sydney University, the town Goodna in Western Brisbane has also been a victim.
“As the white settlers evicted the Aborigines, they asked what they called the area. ‘Goona’ was the reply,” writer Tyson Yunkaporta said.
“Only later did the settlers discover ‘goona’ was the Aboriginal word for ‘shit’, forcing maps, signs and deeds to be changed.
"The 'founding fathers' decided to insert an extra letter to give the name a new, positive feel, and renamed the area Goodna.”
NITV reached out to Goona Warra Vineyard for comment but did not receive a response by time of publication.