A-Z of unusual Australian place names

From James

Amphitheatre (Vic)
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.

Boing Boing (NT)
Meaning “mosquitoes buzzing” in Aboriginal, Boing Boing 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 (Vic)
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.

Gingin (WA)
This town north of Perth sounds good enough to drink. The Aboriginal meaning is “place of many streams”.

Humpybong (Qld)
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.

Innaloo (WA)
Perth suburb with a fruit market called Innaloo Fresh (we kid you not!) and a shopping plaza, presumably with plenty of indoor restrooms.

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.

Provocative Yorkeys Knob (Qld)

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.

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 (Vic)
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.

Nowhere Else (Tas)
Located near Devonport in north-western Tasmania, there really is “nowhere else”, like Nowhere Else.

Ozenkadnook (Vic)
An almost unpronounceable place name in the West Wimmera region bordering South Australia and meaning “very fat kangaroo” in Aboriginal.

Poowong (Vic)
This Gippsland town with smelly connotations appropriately got its name from the Aboriginal word for “carrion” or “putrefaction”.

Queanbeyan (NSW/ACT)
Close to Canberra and meaning “clear water”, a place fit for pollies and insect royalty.

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.

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.

Vite Vite (Vic)
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”.

Wonglepong (Qld)
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”.

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!

Yorkeys Knob (Qld)
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.

Zeehan (Tas)
Former silver and lead mining town in Tassie’s south-west that gets its name from one of Abel Tasman’s ships.