The Land is a Map

The Land is a Map

Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia

Edited by: Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges, Jane Simpson

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The entire Australian continent was once covered with networks of Indigenous placenames. These names often evoke important information about features of the environment and their place in Indigenous systems of knowledge. On the other hand, placenames assigned by European settlers and officials are largely arbitrary, except for occasional descriptive labels such as ‘river, lake, mountain’. They typically commemorate people, or unrelated places in the Northern hemisphere.

In areas where Indigenous societies remain relatively intact, thousands of Indigenous placenames are used, but have no official recognition. Little is known about principles of forming and bestowing Indigenous placenames. Still less is known about any variation in principles of placename bestowal found in different Indigenous groups. While many Indigenous placenames have been taken into the official placename system, they are often given to different features from those to which they originally applied. In the process, they have been cut off from any understanding of their original meanings. Attempts are now being made to ensure that additions of Indigenous placenames to the system of official placenames more accurately reflect the traditions they come from.

The eighteen chapters in this book range across all of these issues. The contributors (linguistics, historians and anthropologists) bring a wide range of different experiences, both academic and practical, to their contributions. The book promises to be a standard reference work on Indigenous placenames in Australia for many years to come.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Mar 2009
First edition © 2002 Pandanus Books
ANU Press
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History, Linguistics; Science: Geography; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Indigenous Studies

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The Land is a Map »

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  1. Indigenous Placenames: An Introduction (PDF, 2.0MB)Luise Hercus and Jane Simpson doi
  2. The Concept Of Place Among The Arrernte (PDF, 984KB)David Wilkins doi
  3. Transparency Versus Opacity In Aboriginal Placenames (PDF, 459KB)Michael Walsh doi
  4. Changing Places: European And Aboriginal Styles (PDF, 689KB)Patrick McConvell doi
  5. Is It Really A Placename? (PDF, 886KB)Luise Hercus doi
  6. On The Translatability Of Placenames In The Wik Region, Cape York Peninsula (PDF, 729KB)Peter Sutton doi
  7. Names And Naming: Speaking Forms Into Place (PDF, 1.0MB)Franca Tamisari doi
  8. ‘I’m Going To Where-Her-Brisket-Is’: Placenames In The Roper (PDF, 1.6MB)Brett Baker doi
  9. The Archaism And Linguistic Connections Of Some Yir-Yoront Tract-Names (PDF, 564KB)Barry Alpher doi
  10. Some Remarks On Placenames In The Flinders (PDF, 927KB)Bernhard Schebeck doi
  11. Blown To Witewitekalk: Placenames And Cultural Landscapes In North-West Victoria (PDF, 668KB)Edward Ryan doi
  12. Weeding Out Spurious Etymologies: Toponyms On The Adelaide Plains (PDF, 930KB)Rob Amery doi
  13. Placenames In Yuwaalaraay, Yuwaaliyaay And Gamilaraay Languages Of North-West New South Wales (PDF, 319KB)Anna Ash doi
  14. Naming The Dead Heart: Hillier’s Map And Reuther’s Gazetteer Of 2,468 Placenames In North-Eastern South Australia (PDF, 1.2MB)Philip Jones doi
  15. ‘What Name?’: The Recording Of Indigenous Placenames In The Western Desert Of South Australia (PDF, 253KB)Paul Monaghan doi
  16. ‘What They Call That In The Whites?’: Ngiyampaa And Other Placenames In A New South Wales Ngurrampaa (PDF, 1.7MB)Tamsin Donaldson doi
  17. Creating Aborlginal Placenames: Applied Philology In Armidale City (PDF, 737KB)Nicholas Reid doi
  18. Reclaiming Through Renaming: The Reinstatement Of Kaurna Toponyms In Adelaide And The Adelaide Plains (PDF, 1.5MB)Rob Amery and Georgina Yambo Williams doi

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