Aboriginal Placenames

Aboriginal Placenames

Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape

Edited by: Harold Koch, Luise Hercus

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Aboriginal approaches to the naming of places across Australia differ radically from the official introduced Anglo-Australian system. However, many of these earlier names have been incorporated into contemporary nomenclature, with considerable reinterpretations of their function and form. Recently, state jurisdictions have encouraged the adoption of a greater number of Indigenous names, sometimes alongside the accepted Anglo-Australian terms, around Sydney Harbour, for example. In some cases, the use of an introduced name, such as Gove, has been contested by local Indigenous people.

The 19 studies brought together in this book present an overview of current issues involving Indigenous placenames across the whole of Australia, drawing on the disciplines of geography, linguistics, history, and anthropology. They include meticulous studies of historical records, and perspectives stemming from contemporary Indigenous communities. The book includes a wealth of documentary information on some 400 specific placenames, including those of Sydney Harbour, the Blue Mountains, Canberra, western Victoria, the Lake Eyre district, the Victoria River District, and southwestern Cape York Peninsula.

For more information on Aboriginal History Inc. please visit aboriginalhistory.org.au.


ISBN (print):
ISBN (online):
Publication date:
Oct 2009
Aboriginal History Monograph 19
ANU Press
Aboriginal History Monographs
Aboriginal History
Arts & Humanities: Cultural Studies, History; Science: Geography; Social Sciences: Anthropology, Indigenous Studies

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  1. Aboriginal placenames around Port Jackson and Botany Bay, New South Wales, Australia: Sources and uncertainties (PDF, 1.4MB)Val Attenbrow doi
  2. Reinstating Aboriginal placenames around Port Jackson and Botany Bay (PDF, 180KB)Jakelin Troy and Michael Walsh doi
  3. The recognition of Aboriginal placenames in New South Wales (PDF, 288KB)Greg Windsor doi
  4. New insights into Gundungurra place naming (PDF, 339KB)Jim Smith doi
  5. The methodology of reconstructing Indigenous placenames: Australian Capital Territory and south-eastern New South Wales (PDF, 310KB)Harold Koch doi


  1. Toponymic books and the representation of Indigenous identities (PDF, 129KB)Laura Kostanski doi
  2. Reviving old Indigenous names for new purposes (PDF, 874KB)Laura Kostanski and Ian D. Clark doi
  3. Reconstruction of Aboriginal microtoponymy in western and central Victoria: Case studies from Tower Hill, the Hopkins River, and Lake Boga (PDF, 157KB)Ian Clark doi

South Australia & Central Australia

  1. ‘Aboriginal names of places in Southern South Australia’ Placenames in the Norman B. Tindale collection of papers (PDF, 1.1MB)Paul Monaghan doi
  2. Why Mulligan is not just another Irish name: Lake Callabonna, South Australia (PDF, 101KB)J.C. McEntee doi
  3. Murkarra, a landscape nearly forgotten: The Arabana country of the noxious insects, north and northwest of Lake Eyre (PDF, 494KB)Luise Hercus doi
  4. Some area names in the far north-east of South Australia (PDF, 244KB)Luise Hercus doi
  5. Placenames of central Australia: European records and recent experience (PDF, 198KB)Richard Kimber doi

Northern Australia

  1. Naming Bardi places (PDF, 354KB)Claire Bowern doi
  2. Dog-people: The meaning of a north Kimberley story (PDF, 134KB)Mark Clendon doi
  3. ‘Where the spear sticks up’: The variety of locatives in placenames in the Victoria River District, Northern Territory (PDF, 848KB)Patrick McConvell doi
  4. ‘This place already has a name’ (PDF, 1.2MB)Melanie Wilkinson, Dr R. Marika and Nancy M. Williams doi
  5. Manankurra: What’s in a name? Placenames and emotional geographies (PDF, 301KB)John J. Bradley and Amanda Kearney doi
  6. Kurtjar placenames (PDF, 175KB)Paul Black doi

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