What are the implications if the road is renamed?

    If a name change is supported by the Geographical Names Board then residents and businesses along Ben Boyd Road would need to update all applicable records which include their property address. 

    Who is Ben Boyd?

    Ben Boyd arrived in Sydney from Britain in 1842. He built a large house on the foreshore at Neutral Bay called Craignathan. Boyd established a whaling station on the south coast, a settlement nearby called Boydtown and sheep runs on one million acres of land inland from Eden. 

    As convict transportation had ended in 1840, Boyd sought other means for securing cheap labour. In 1847 he organised the recruiting of as many as 200 people from present-day Vanuatu and their transportation to Sydney then Eden to work on his sheep runs and other enterprises. It is doubtful that many, if any at all, knew what their contracts entailed. The scheme was a failure and most of the Islanders attempted to return to Sydney. Newspapers reported that those who did were in poor health. Another report detailed the drowning of an Islander who attempted to swim from Neutral Bay to the vessel Portenia in the hope of returning home. 

    Boyd was criticised at the time for his scheme. The legislator Robert Lowe likened him to a slave owner. After his contracts were cancelled in law, Boyd effectively abandoned the Islanders. Boyd’s other schemes also failed. He left the colony for California in 1849 with many unpaid debts. On the return journey in 1851 his yacht arrived at the Solomons Islands and he was killed in uncertain circumstances. His death was widely reported and prompted mixed feelings in the colony. Despite the failure of Boyd’s labour practices, from the 1860s to the 1890s several thousand South Sea Islanders were brought to Queensland to work on sugar plantations. 

    There were several atrocities committed against the transported Islanders during this time. Ben Boyd Road was so-named around 1880 as land in Neutral Bay was subdivided. Two plaques were installed there in 1931 to mark the 80th anniversary of his death and honour the entrepreneur. In 1992 Dr Faith Bandler AO, whose father had been taken from Ambrym Island in the 1880s, asked North Sydney Council to re-name the road as it commemorated the man who began Australian ‘slavery’. There was little local support for the re-naming.