The Ashburton River was named by surveyor/explorer Francis T. Gregory, leader of the North West Australian Exploring Expedition in June 1861 after William Bingham Baring, 2nd Baron Ashburton (1799-1864), who held the office of President of the Geographical Society from 1860 to 1864.
From Gregory’s journal: ‘
“Naming it the Ashburton, after the noble President of the Royal Geographical Society, we quitted its verdant banks and took a south course up a stony ravine, …”.
The Ashburton River was formerly named the Curlew River at its mouth by Commander Phillip Parker King, RN of HMC Mermaid in 1818.
From King’s journal:
“Pelicans and curlews were very numerous, particularly the latter, in consequence of which the inlet was called Curlew River”.
P.P. King, Survey of the Intertropical and Western Coasts of Australia, vol. 1, John Murray, London, 1827, p.31.
A.C. & F.T. Gregory, Journals of Australia Explorations, James C. Beal, Government Printer, Brisbane, 1884