Place Names

On reading through the reports of various trips, tours and travels on this website, you will notice that that there is a lot of information about the naming of places and features – toponymy.

Accurate toponymy can a tell a story of a place’s discovery, its naming and why it was so named. And because we travel to so many places in Australia, with an emphasis on Western Australia, we like to find out about where we have been, where we are and where we are going to. Often there is much attendant data in the toponymy, beyond the bald facts, that can enrich and preserve a region’s 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 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.

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