Frequently Asked Questions
Our aim is to investigate the history, meaning, and motivation for use of each name ever current for a topographic feature or inhabited locality in Australia, and to make public the results of these investigations. These cultural aspects of placename study have never formed an area of systematic research in Australia, and the Survey aims to remedy this deficiency.
A comprehensive record and study of our placenames is important to give us a full understanding of our history and culture. Placenames are the symbols of our socio-historical past, and their study involves many academic disciplines, including history, geography, linguistics and sociology. The fascinating cultural history of our Indigenous and introduced placenames is being lost with the passing of the generations, and Australia lags behind other countries with a comparable level of educational and research sophistication and cultural awareness in documenting this basic part of our history.
The rich tales behind our placenames need to be recorded now, and the ANPS is a rare opportunity for members of the Australian community with experience in a wide range of disciplines and with a variety of interests to work together on a project of great scientific and cultural significance.
Each state and territory has a nomenclature authority responsible for the technical aspects of toponymy, i.e. determining which placenames are to be in official use and the exact location of the places designated by them. These authorities all maintain databases of placenames within their jurisdiction, some of which are available online. For links to their websites please go to our Resources page.
With limited staffing and financial resources, these authorities are not able to comprehensively research the history, origin and meaning of all current official placenames within their jurisdiction, still less document all names previous used and all variant forms to be found in historic sources. These cultural aspects of toponymy are the work of the ANPS.
All the state and territory nomenclature authorities, as well as various Commonwealth authorities that also have responsibility for placenaming, a r e m e m b e r s o f t h e P e r m a n e n t C o m m i t t e e o n P l a c e N a m e s ( f o r m e r l y , t h e C o m m i t t e e f o r G e o g r a p h i c a l N a m e s i n A u s t r a l a s i a - &