On Saturday, 11 December, 1954, someone named “Boscobel” had the following article published in the Newcastle Morning Herald.
Throsby simply cannot resist reproducing it in whole.
The item is interesting for two reasons. First, it’s quite comprehensive, and an easy, informative read. Second, scholarly or not (and it might well be), it represents popular knowledge of Hunter regional place names from almost 70 years ago, while itself building upon a preceding half century of gathered descriptions, from who knows what sources.
Nowadays these repositories tend to feed off one another on the Internet, and grow like proverbial rolling snowballs.
In cross-checking some odd spellings – in particular, “Kallitoota” – the impressive online resource at www.jenwilletts.com confirmed the ‘t’ was not a ‘l’. Though stumbled upon before, Throsby didn’t realise at the time what a treasure trove it is. Highly recommended.
Place Names, by Boscobel
There is something absorbingly fascinating about names, whether they be the names of persons or the names of places, and during the last 50 or 60 years the study of toponymy has increasingly engaged public attention in Australia.
No doubt this has been brought about by the desire to find the meanings of aboriginal place names before they are entirely for gotten.
The investigation of place names, besides being interesting in itself, is of great value in other studies.
Linguistically it throws light on the vocabulary of different parts of the country, and words frequently occur as place names (which show that they were actually in ordinary use) long after the language of that tribe has died out or is only partially remembered in these days.
Man apparently has always given names to places, so as to be able to identify them. In the fourth chapter of the first, book in the Bible we read how very early in the world’s history ‘Cain built a city and named it after the name of his son, Enoch” (Gen. 4, 17). Later, the Psalmist’ warns his listeners against worldliness and says how these worldly people love to call their land after their own names (Psalm 49, 11).
Now there are names which have meanings, and there are names which are named after other names, and it is an interesting study to trace the meanings and origins of names, and so find out why such a place got such a name.
The colonist calls his home in the new land after his ancestral home in England or elsewhere, or after himself, or some personage important or otherwise in Parliament; or the explorer names the mountains and rivers and other geographical features after some friend, or someone who has helped finance or organise his expedition.
So, too, the aboriginal has a name for every locality in his tribal area.
These he names, not after someone or somewhere else, but on account of some peculiarity of the physical features, or some incident that took place there, and in many cases the name remains. He has a name for every bend in the creek or river in his locality, and for every geographical entity. He also gave a name to each place where he found abundance of food, be it animal or vegetable, or where he found good supplies of water, or where special wood was to be procured for special weapons, and so on.
Many of these names have been preserved to us throughout Australia, and we have been able to a large extent to trace their meanings. But when we realise that in New South Wales there were 658 dialects, all of which differed in a greater or lesser degree, it can be readily understood why so many of the aboriginal words have the same or similar meanings, and why so many of the meanings have been lost.
Again we must remember that many aboriginal names have been given haphazardly to places in our own time, not by any aboriginal, nor from any geographical or tribal reason, but just to preserve the spirit of the aboriginal. In many of these cases names have been given which are foreign to the area in which they are used. However, great care is now being taken by the various historical and anthropological societies that a word of the local dialect is used.
We have several such names recently used in and around Newcastle, where the local dialect is used.
Examples are Kotara (a club), Wommara (a throwing stick), Terrikiba – at the Steel Works (the place of fire). There are still many places the meaning or origin of which remains a mystery, such as Greta, Tenambit, Mt. Vincent, Quorrobolong, Vacy, Anna Bay.
I now give a list of some of the aboriginal place names in the Hunter Valley and around Newcastle, followed by a list of place names with their origins, for a very large percentage of the names in New South Wales are after the pioneers, or their home town, or after governors or other persons in public life, such as Newcastle, Maitland, Wallsend, Lake Macquarie, Stroud, Singleton.
List of Place Names from Indigenous dialects
Awaba – A plain surface. The native name for Lake Macquarie.
Baerami – A spear thrower.
Barokee – Stone.
Baromee – The home of the swan.
Baroona – Place far away.
Benalla – A musk duck.
Berrico – A hollow place.
Binglebra – A place of thorns.
Bolwarra – High.
Borambil – In the vicinity of the Bora ground, where the blacks meet to make men.
Boolambayte – Twin lakes or two lakes.
Boolaroo – Place of flies.
Booragul – Summer.
Bulga – A single mountain.
Bunnan – Ashes
Bundabah – Place of kangaroo.
Butti – More, continue the action.
Carrabolla – The leather. head (a bird).
Collaroy (near Merriwa) – The long swamp reed.
Coolongolook – Place of bats.
Coopernook – The elbow (that is, the bend in the river).
Coopabulga – Many high hills.
Corroba – A contraction of corroboree, a ceremonial dance.
Curracobakh – An open place.
Derridgeric – Rough bushes that grow in creeks.
Dewrang – High, in mountainous country.
Dilgry – Rocky boulder.
Dingadee – Good place for game.
Dungog – Clear hills.
Eleebana – Beauty.
Ellalong – A swampy place.
Eraring – That which gleams or glitters.
Goorangoola – A bend in the creek.
Gundy – A camp.
Ingar – Place of rest.
Kahibah – Quick, active, eager.
Kallitoota – Evergreen.
Kankool – A wallaroo.
Karrabee – A cockatoo.
Karuah – A native plum tree.
Kayuga – A plain.
Kotara – A club.
Keinbah – – Place of termites.
Killabin – Shining.
Kincumber – Belonging to an old man.
Koolbury – Emu
Koonawarra – Duck’s high place.
Kurri Kurri – Very quick or the very first.
Merriwa – Plenty grass seed.
Mindaribba – A hunter.
Minimbah – The place of the teacher of the tribe.
Minmi – The home of the giant lily.
Minnibimbil – The grave of the teacher of the tribe.
Mirannie – A camp.
Moonan – Difficult to accomplish.
Mullenroo – Many streams.
Murrurundi – Five fingers (referring to the five peaks surrounding the town).
Munmurra – A moonblind blackfellow.
Mulbring – The big mountain.
Malubinda – An indigenous fern (the site of Newcastle)
Murulla – A meeting place.
Myambat – A native dwelling.
Myall – A stranger.
Myuna – Clear water.
Nalawa – A camp.
Narrowgut – Corruption of abo – narragan – a narrow waste of land between rivers.
Narara – A black snake.
Niritba – The home of the mutton bird – the name of the island off the entrance to Lake Macquarie.
Nooroo – Night, dark.
Nowendoc – A very cold place.
Nulkaba – Place of iron stone.
Nundah – Wood.
Ourimbah – The ring or circle on the Bora ground.
Patonga – The small wallaby.
Pangela – A kangaroo.
Pindimar – The home of the black opossum.
Pothana – Smoke.
Pulbah – – An island.
Puenbuen – Small stones.
Putty – Fish.
Tacoma – The small diver or shag.
Tahlee – Sheltered from the wind.
Tamboy – the ibis.
Taree – The wild fig.
Tarro – A stone.
Telegerry – A pelican.
Teralba – Where the edible bush “dirrawan” grows.
Thalaba – Native clover.
Timor – A large rock.
Tirrikiba – Place of fire.
Togar – Smoke.
Tomago – Sweet water.
Tomalla – Big noise (refer ring to the noise of the creek).
Tomalpin – A high hill.
Tomaree – A high mountain.
Tongy – A council ground, a talking place.
Toolangi – The fight by the waterhole.
Tulkaba – The place of the soft leaf titree.
Turee – Waterweed.
Wogarabil – A muddy creek.
Walka – The sun.
Wallarobba – A rainy gully.
Wallarah – The mountain kangaroo.
Wangi Wangi – Many night owls.
Warrawolong – Like a human head.
Wilga – Weening willow tree,
Wiragulla – The Ben Bullen parrot.
Wingen – Fire (the burning mountain is here).
Wollombi – The meeting of the waters.
Wommara – A throwing stick.
Wov Woy – Much water.
Wye – Fire.
Wyong – Running water.
Yackerboon – Green grass.
Yallambie – To dwell, to slay.
Yarramalong – Place of wild horses.
Origins of Place Names ~ by what Europeans value
Adamstown – Named after Surveyor Thomas Adams, who surveyed the town in 1869.
Allandale – After place in Scotland.
Antient – Named by R. D. Wallace Antrim after his father’s place in Ireland, but owing to faulty writing the name was made out to be Antiene.
Ash Island – Named by Colonel Paterson on June 17, 1801. on account of “a very excellent wood similar in quality to ash, and grows as large.”
Bandon Grove – Named by Mr. Kingston after Bandon in County Cork, Ireland.
Belltrees – Named after Lord Sempill’s estate in Scotland.
Belmont – Named by Thomas Williamson, who settled here, after his home town, a village on Island of Unst in the Shetland Islands.
Bishop’s Bridge – After an early settler named Bishop.
Blackalls – After T. Blackall, a Newcastle dentist, who owned the land.
Branxton – After a place in Northumberland. England.
Broke – Named by Major T. L. Mitchell, Surveyor – General, after Sir Charles Broke Vere.
Broughton Island (off Port Stephens) – After Captain W. R. Broughton, of H.M.S. Providence, who in August, 1795, sought shelter in Port Stephens.
Buchanan – After David Buchanan, Parliamentary member for Morpeth, 1860.
Caergwrle – After a place in Flint, near Gresford, England.
Cessnock – Named by James Campbell after one of Burns’s poems, “On Cessnock’s Banks.”
Cockfighter Creek – So named in 1820 by J. Howe and B. Singleton because one of their horses called Cockfighter was bogged here on their return trip from Wallis Pains (Maitland) to Patrick Plains (Singleton).
Cook’s Hill (Newcastle) – After Tom Cook, a wealthy squatter, who lived in a cottage at the corner of Auckland and Laman Streets, Newcastle.
Cory Vale – After J. Cory. Dawson’s Hill – After Robert Dawson, first agent of the A.A. Company, to whom a grant of this area was made in 1828.
Denman – After Lord Thomas Denman (1779 – 1854), Lord Chief Justice of England, grandfather of Lord Denman, Governor – General of Australia, 1911 – 14.
Dunmore – Named by. Andrew Lang, the original grantee in 1822, after his mother’s maiden name. (His brother was Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang.)
Eccleston – After a place near Chester, England.
Elderslie – Named by T. C. Harrington, Assistant Colonial Secretary, 1834, after a village iln Scotland.
Farley – Named by Captain Emmanuel Hungerford, a settler of 1828, after his home town, Farleigh, near Bath, England.
Forster – After William Forster, Premier of N.S.W., 1859.
Fullerton Cove – After William Fullerton, traveller nd soldier, 1754 – 1808.
Georgetown – Originally called Geordie Town.
Gillieston – After John Gillies, Mayor of West Maitland, 1888.
Glendon – Named by Robert and Helena Scott after their home in Scotland.
Glennies Creek – After James Glennies, J.P., an early settler.
Gloucester – After the Cathedral city in England.
Gresford – After a town on River Alyn, near Chester, England.
Hamilton – After the residence of William M. Carlyle, Secretary of the A.A. Company, which was named after Edward Hamilton, Governor of the A.A. Company, 1856 98.
Hebburn – After a suburb of Newcastle on Tyne.
Howe’s Valley – After John Howe, who, with Ben. Sinleton, discovered Patrick Plains, Singleton, oh March 17, 1820.
lslington – After a suburb of London.
Jewells (near Belmont) – Should be Jules, as it was named after Jules Windeyer, an old resident of Newcastle, who used to go shooting there.
Kearsley – After William Kearsley, the first member of Parliament for Cessnock.
Kitchener – After Kitchener of Khartoum.
Largs – After a place in Ayrshire, Scotland, the birth place of Andrew Lang.
Lochinvar – After the hero in Sir Walter Scott’s poem.
Lake Macquarie – After Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of N.S.W., 1810 – 21.
Maitland – After Captain Maitland, R.N., who received the surrender of Napoleon Bonaparte on H.M.S. Belerephon after his flight at Waterloo.
Manning River – Named by Robert Dawson, the first agent of the A.A. Company, in honour of the Deputy Governor of the company, Sir Herbert Manning.
Maryville (suburb of Newcastle) – After the wife of James Hannell, M.L.A.
Mayfield (suburb of Newcastle) – After May Scholey, one of the daughters of John Scholey, a butcher, of Newcastle, who bought the area on April 2, 1881, and had it subdivided.
Millfield – So named because a flourmill was once situated there.
Morpeth (originally Green Hills) – After a town in the north of England.
Mt. Dangar – After Henry Dangar, Surveyor to the A.A. Company.
Mt. Thorley – After Philip Thorley, who with John Howe and Ben Singleton discovered Patrick Plains, 17/3/1820.
Muswellbrook – – So called because of the quantity of mussels found in the vicinity in the early days. Lieut. Grant in his Journal of 1801 writes – “The ground was covered with freshwater shells of the sort found in the river of England and Scotland and called the house mussel.”
Neath – After a coalmining town in Wales.
Nelson Plains – After H.M.S. Lady Nelson, which in 1801 was sent to Newcastle to survey the Hunter River and district.
Oakhampton – Named by G. Lethbridge, an early settler, after a town in the heart of Dnartmool, England, where it is spelled “Okehampton.”
Paterson – After Colonel William Paterson, of the N.S.W. Corps, Administrator of the settlement at Sydney in 1795. He also took control after Governor Bligh’s disposition 1808 – 9.
Patrick Plains (Singleton so called because the first explorers of the district, John I – owe anti Benjamin Singleton, camped there on 17/3/1820.
Paxton – after Mr. Paxton, Chairman of Directors of the original coalmining company there.
Pelaw Main – after a coal mining village near Newcastle on Tyne.
Pelton – After a colliery town near Durham. England.
Pickering – Named by Captain Pike, the original owner, after a place hi Yorkshire, England.
Pike’s Gap (near Denman) – After Captain Pike, the original owner of Pickering.
Pitnacree – Named by Rev. William McIntyre after his old home on River Tay, Scotland.
Port Stephens – Named by Captain James Cook on May 11, 1770, after Philip Stephens, Secretary to the Admiralty.
Raworth – After a place in Suffolk, England.
Raymond Terrace – After Midshipman Raymond, who in 1797 was sent by Lieut. Shortland by boat up the River Hunter and who remarked on the “terraced” appearance of the trees at the junction of the Hunter and William Rivers. The locality for some time was called “Raymond’s Terraces.”
Rothbury – After a village near Morpeth, England.
Roughit – So named because the early settlers had to “roughit.”
Roxburgh – After a place in Scotland, the home town of the wife of Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of N.S.W.. 1821 – 5.
Rutherford – After G. S. Rutherford, an early settler.
Shortland – After Lieut. John Shortland of H.M.S. Sirius, who on September 8. 1797. discovered the estuary of the Hunter River and the site of Newcastle, while searching for escaped convicts.
Scone – After a place in Perthshire, Scotland.
Singleton – After Benjamin Singleton, one of the party that discovered the district on March 17, 1820.
Soldiers’ Point (Port Stephens) – So named because soldiers were stationed there to intercept runaway convicts on their way from the penal settlement of Port Macquarie to Newcastle.
Stroud – After a place in Gloucestershire, England.
Swansea – After the seaport of that name in Wales by Captain R. H. Talbot, one of the pioneers of the shipbuilding trade there, who’ fancied hat he perceived some resemblance to the Welsh coal port.
Telarah – A Scottish word for a pit pony; so named by a Scottish miner, a Mr. Ralston, who worked a pit at Farley
Tighe’s Hill (suburb of Newcastle – After A. H. P. Tighe, an early resident, who in 1843 bought due estate.
Toronto – Named by the Excelsior Land and Building Company, which owned the land there, in honour of Edward Hanlan, the champion sculler of the world, who hailed from Toronto, Canada, and who arrived in N.S.W. at the time of the subdivision.
Throsby Creek – See Wickham.
Trevallyn – After a place near, Gresford, England.
Vere – After Sir Charles Broke Vere.
Wallis Creek and Wallis Plains (Maitland) – After Captain James Wallis, of the 46th Regiment, Commandant of Newcastle, 1817-18.
Wallsend – After a place near Newcastle-on-Tyne.
Waratah – After the Australian flower. It was originally called North Waratah, as it marked the extreme north of where the waratah is found (from the Hunter River to Victoria).
Warner’s Bay (Lake Macquarie) – After Jonathan Warner, the original grantee of 1280 acres on what was called Awaba Bay, now Warner’s Bay.
Warnervale (near Wyong) – After A. H. Warner, a local landowner, a descendant of Jonathan Warner.
Whittingham (near Singleton) – Named in 1871 by H. C. Dangar, the surveyor of the A.A. Company, after a place near Edinburgh.
Wickham (suburb of Newcastle) – After suburb of Newcastle-on-Tyne. A most appropriate name, as it means “the village by the creek” and it borders on Throsby Creek, which was named after Charles Throsby, who arrived in N.S.W. as surgeon of the convict transport Coromandel on June 13, 1802. On August 1, 1804, he was transferred to Newcastle as surgeon and magistrate. On April 30, 1805 he was appointed Commandant of Newcastle, where he remained till September 21, 1809.
The Hunter River was named after Governor John Hunter (1795 – 1800) by Lieut. John Shortland in 1797. For many years, however, it was more popularly known as the Coal River on account of the quantity of good coal discovered there.
The main tributaries of the Hunter River are the Williams, the Paterson, and the Goulburn Rivers. The first two are named after Lieut. Colonel William Paterson who administered the colony from December 13, 1794 to September 1, 1795.
The Goulburn River was discovered by Lawson and Scott in 1822 in their endeavour to reach the Liverpool Plains. They named the river after Major Goulburn, the Colonial Secretary.