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Land Map

Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies
The Australian National University

The Land is a Map

Placenames of Indigenous origin in Australia

Edited by Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges & Jane Simpson
ISBN 1-74076-020-4

The entire Australian continent was once covered with networks of Indigenous placenames. These names often evoke important information about features of the environment and their place in Indigenous systems of knowledge. On the other hand, placenames assigned by European settlers and officials are largely arbitrary, except for occasional descriptive labels such as 'river, lake, mountain'. They typically commemorate people, or unrelated places in the Northern Hemisphere.

In areas where Indigenous societies remain relatively intact, thousands of Indigenous placenames are used but have no official recognition. Little is known about any variation in principles of placename bestowal found in different Indigenous groups. While many Indigenous placenames have been taken into the official placename system, they are often given to different features from those which they originally applied to. In the process, they have been cut off from any understanding of their original meanings. Attempts are now being made to ensure that additions of Indigenous placenames to the system of official placenames more accurately reflect the traditions they come from.

This book ranges across all these issues. The contributors bring a wide range of different experiences, both academic and practical, to their contributions. The book promises to be a standard reference work on Indigenous placenames in Australia for many years to come.

The Land is a Map was launched in Canberra on 5 December 2002 at the Australian Placenames Colloquium. The publisher's description and purchasing details for the book may be found at the relevant page on the Pandanus Books website.


Land Map

ANU E Press

Aboriginal Placenames

Naming and re-naming the Australian landscape

Edited by Harold Koch and Luise Hercus

ISBN 9781921666087 $29.95 (GST inclusive)
ISBN 9781921666094 (Online)
Published October 2009
Aboriginal History Monograph 19

Aboriginal approaches to the naming of places across Australia differ radically from the official introduced Anglo-Australian system. However, many of these earlier names have been incorporated into contemporary nomenclature, with considerable reinterpretations of their function and form. Recently, state jurisdictions have encouraged the adoption of a greater number of Indigenous names, sometimes alongside the accepted Anglo-Australian terms, around Sydney Harbour, for example. In some cases, the use of an introduced name, such as Gove, has been contested by local Indigenous people.

The 19 studies brought together in this book present an overview of current issues involving Indigenous placenames across the whole of Australia, drawing on the disciplines of geography, linguistics, history, and anthropology. They include meticulous studies of historical records, and perspectives stemming from contemporary Indigenous communities. The book includes a wealth of documentary information on some 400 specific placenames, including those of Sydney Harbour, the Blue Mountains, Canberra, western Victoria, the Lake Eyre district, the Victoria River District, and southwestern Cape York Peninsula.




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