If you like strange place names and ever wonder how towns, cities, streets and places get their names, then Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else - The Stories Behind Australia's Weird and Wonderful Place Names by Eamon Evans is for you.
Organised by state and then alphabetically by place name (which is handy), this is a light-hearted look at place names in Australia and their origin and history.
Written in a laid back and casual style, Evans tries to bring humour to every page and occasionally it falls flat. At times it felt as though he were writing a book to appeal to Dads for Father's Day; often mentioning place names like Wanka Creek (QLD), Mount Breast and Mount Little Dick (VIC) for a laugh or shock value but without an accompanying story behind their weird names.
Contained amongst these were the more interesting entries that ignited curiosity, like Haunted Bay and Hell's Gates in Tasmania, Cannibal Creek in Queensland or Coffin Bay and Dead Mans Pass in South Australia. Some of their origins were fascinating, others unexpected, but all in all they were entertaining and informative.
Here's a few of the aboriginal place names and meanings:
- Nimbin in New South Wales means 'a very small man', page 53
- Jinnerbeeker in Western Australia means 'bad feet', page 191
- Oodnadatta in South Australia means 'smelly water', page 233
My favourite place name in the book was - unsurprisingly - a place called Bookmark in South Australia. Mentioned on page 218, Evans tells us the name is a 'slightly odd corruption of 'pukumako', meaning 'flintstone axe'. Now that's interesting!
Mount Buggery to Nowhere Else is recommended reading for those with an interest in Australian geography and history and place names (obviously). If you enjoy base humour, that's great, but if you don't, just skip those entries to get to the good stuff.
My rating = ***