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A-Z of unusual Australian place names

Daniel Scott
I've been everywhere, man
"You're assured a good Indian take-away in Kurri Kurri, NSW."
Daniel Scott
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"I've been everywhere, man… I've been to Wollongong, Geelong, Kurrajong, Mullumbimby, Mittagong, Molong, Grong Grong, Goondiwindi … Cabramatta, Parramatta, Wangaratta, Coolangatta; what's it matter?"

Inspired by the classic Aussie song "I've been everywhere man", Daniel Scott set off an alphabetical journey in search of the country's most unusual place names. Here, from A-Z, are some of the names he discovered, and possible explanations of their origins.

Amphitheatre, Victoria

A hamlet in Victoria's Pyrenees ranges, originating from the gold mining rush, located in a hollow between two hills which roughly resembles an amphitheatre. Pleasant picnic spot, unless you're a gladiator.
Live here? How does it rate?

Bong Bong, NT

Meaning "mosquitoes buzzing" in Aboriginal, Bong Bong narrowly takes the cake for the most unusual place name beginning with "B" — it narrowly beat Blighty in NSW, which probably reminded somebody of home.

Come by chance, NSW

Immortalised in a Banjo Patterson poem, this settlement in north-western New South Wales got its name from pastoralists who happened upon a large vacant block, while en route somewhere else more promising.

Diapur, Victoria

Diapur, in Victoria's Wimmera region, just beats Dunedoo in New South Wales as Australia's oddest sounding place beginning with "D". Named after the area's black swans, Diapur is particularly popular with babies.

Ehrenbreitstein, SA

Sadly, like many South Australian towns named by German migrants, this town no longer exists. Its name was changed to Mount Yerila by the 1917 Nomenclature Act as it was one of 69 place names considered to indicate enemy origin following World War I. Other lost names include Wusser's Nob and Pflaum, renamed Hundred of Geegeela possibly because it was much frequented by horses.

Foul Bay, SA

Named by Matthew Flinders in 1802 because of its poor anchorage, this bay on the Yorke Peninsula is far nicer than its moniker suggests. Also nearby is the delightful sounding Tiddy Widdy Beach.
Live here? How does it rate?

Gingin, WA

This town north of Perth sounds good enough to drink. The Aboriginal meaning is "place of many streams".
Live here? How does it rate?

Humpybong, Queensland

Lovely name originating from when the British abandoned the area in favour of settling Brisbane, leaving behind empty huts or "humpies". Humpybong means "dead shelters" in Aboriginal.

Innalo Fresho, WA

Perth suburb with a fruit market called Innaloo Fresh (we kid you not!) and a shopping plaza, presumably with plenty of indoor restrooms.
Live here? How does it rate?

Jimcumbilly, NSW

Tiny settlement and disused railway station located near Bombala, inland from the New South Wales south coast. Mystery surrounds the meaning of its Aboriginal name.

Knuckey Lagoon, NT

Near Darwin and actually a wildlife reserve, rather than a place popular with couples. Just beats Kurri Kurri in New South Wales, where good Indian cuisine is guaranteed.
Live here? How does it rate?

Loos, SA

This settlement's original German name, Buchsfelde, was considered offensive during World War I so they came up with this much better alternative.

Mount Buggery, Victoria

The evocative and typically Aussie name, Mount Buggery, cannot be bettered anywhere in Australia — although WA's Muchea (as in "there's nothing muchea"), a corruption of the Aboriginal word Muchela, is excellent too.
Live here? How does it rate?

Nowhere Else, Tasmania & SA

Located near Devonport in north-western Tasmania, there really is "nowhere else", like Nowhere Else. Well, actually there is ... like many of our visitors have pointed out, a place called Nowhere Else can be found on the Eyre Peninsula in SA too!
Live here? How does it rate?

Ozenkadnook, Victoria

An almost unpronounceable place name in the West Wimmera region bordering South Australia and meaning "very fat kangaroo" in Aboriginal.
Live here? How does it rate?

Poowong, Victoria

This Gippsland town with smelly connotations appropriately got its name from the Aboriginal word for "carrion" or "putrefaction".
Live here? How does it rate?

Queanbeyan, NSW/ACT

Close to Canberra and meaning "clear water", a place fit for pollies and insect royalty.
Live here? How does it rate?

Rooty Hill, NSW

Area in western Sydney named by Governor King in 1802. Disappointingly, the name refers to roots exposed in fields around the hill following floods.
Live here? How does it rate?

Smiggin Holes, NSW

Popular ski resort that got its Scottish name from pools formed in rocks by cattle.

Tom Ugly, NSW

Tom Ugly Point, near Sylvania in Sydney's south, is named after an Aboriginal Australian who lived in a rock shelter in this area during the mid-19th century. His nickname was said to be ironic as he was a strong, handsome fellow.

Uki, NSW

Pronounced "yook-eye", this River Tweed dairy town's name originates from the Aboriginal word for "fern with edible roots" and just beats Ubobo in Queensland.
Live here? How does it rate?

Vite Vite, Victoria

Vite Vite, on the railway line close to Pura Pura and Nerrin Nerrin in South Western Victoria, may have got its name from the French word for "quick", as in "I hope the train arrives double quick".
Live here? How does it rate?

Wonglepong, Queensland

Although New South Wales has Woolloomooloo (meaning young kangaroo), and Wards Mistake (named after bushranger Frederick Ward), Queensland's delightfully named Wonglepong, possibly meaning "forgotten sound" in Aboriginal, pips them all, and also tramples all over Victoria's Wurt Wurt Kurt as number one "W".
Live here? How does it rate?

Xantippe, WA

Australia's only place name beginning with "X" is found near Dalwallinu in the WA wheat belt, and got its name from workers on the rabbit-proof fence. On discovering that the granite ground they were working on was almost impenetrable, they called the place Xantippe, after the wife of Greek philosopher Socrates, reputedly a very hard woman!
Live here? How does it rate?

Yorkeys Knob, Queensland

Located just north of Cairns, it got its name from a fisherman from Yorkshire, George Yorkey Lawson, who lived nearby in the late 19th century. Locals have since resisted attempts to rename it Yorkeys Beach, fond as they are of the original moniker, despite the reactions it sometimes provokes.
Live here? How does it rate?

Zeehan, Tasmania

Former silver and lead mining town in Tassie's south-west that gets its name from one of Abel Tasman's ships.
Live here? How does it rate?

What are some of your favourite unusual Aussie place names? What do the names mean?

Related: The top nine most ridiculous place names

User comments
Good try. It's actually pronounced Mew-shay not that there's too many residents there to argue the point!! Any how did Dunedoo (NSW) - Dunny-doo as opposed to Dune-doo escape the list?
There's no one "Aboriginal" language - there are a few hundred. It's something other Australians should really have their heads round by now! Saying a word means such-and-such in "Aboriginal" is like saying it means something in "European" or "Asian".
some from the midwest of WA-- ogilvy,tenindewa,ambania,indarra,yandanooka,kooloonooka,pintharuka,karrakarook hill,wootachooka hill,barraweelbarra hill, the settlements at these places would fit in the canteen area of the MCG.
There is no suburb called 'Innalo Fresho', I have no idea where they got this spelling from. There is one called Innaloo however, pronounced as it looks "in-a-loo".
I used to live in the Central West of NSW, near Kangarooby, which always appealed to me. Later, I lived in Koo Wee Rup, not far from Nar Nar ***, in West Gippsland, Victoria.
Moonyoonookah & Walkaway east of Geraldton, WA. Darch, a new suburb of Perth just sounds so dull & bland. Duh-arch. Gascoyne Junction, east of Carnarvon is not an unusual name, but its claim to fame is that it would probably fit inside the MCG, including its own football oval.
Yes...we have a suburb named Dogswamp, another called Upperswan (bout us Australian's not pronouncing our R's makes it sound like Up a Swan...) and yet another called Innaloo......
How aqbout Cockburn in W.A. This has to be the funniest. I wonder how it got its name?
You can't go passed Wangaratta. "Resting place orf the Cormorant,"
Near Benalla NE Victoria Is township of Baddaginnie which apparently means "My stomach's empty"! named by Indian workers.

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