The reports of the various trips, tours and travels on the Adventures website have a lot of information about place names – their naming and features – toponymy.
Accurate toponymy can a tell a story of a place’s discovery, its naming and why it was so named. If you like to find out about where you have been, where you are and where you are going obviously you need to work with place names and names of features. Often, beyond the bald facts of a place or region, there is much attendant data in the toponymy that can enrich and preserve its culture. This toponomic information then flows over to Geographic Information Systems (GISs) – a discipline plagued with lies, deception and political correctness – fortunately the initial two are not seen so often in modern Australian toponymy/mapping.
Toponymy in Australia is the responsibility of the individual States. In Western Australia, Landgate reluctantly accepts the responsibility for this task, through the Geographic Names Committee. Place, feature and road names are stored in a database known as Geonoma however, because it is not accurately maintained, this resource is of declining value.
In 2011, the Geographic Names Committee produced a booklet titled Policies and Standards for Geographical Naming in Western Australia. A PDF of this may be accessed here. Additionally, the Committee for Geographical Names of Australasia has produced Guidelines for the Consistent Use of Place Name’, which may be accessed here.
Anyone may propose a new name for a feature or a correction of a name by contacting the Geographic Names Committee. Providing one’s information is accurate and compelling, I know from personal experience of naming/renaming 24 features, the submission will be successful.
Reading the eyewitness accounts of Australian exploration history allows us to travel back in time.
Because naming of places and features is inextricably entwined with ‘history’ many of the articles on this website that include details of toponymy also provide a snapshot of another time. With only a small bit of imagination one can ‘time travel’ to when our nation was growing up.
Text by Kim Epton