Have you ever wondered where your home town got its name from? Or been travelling along, seen a town sign and wondered, “Where in the heck did that name come from?” I must confess, I do it often, and come home and begin researching.

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What’s in a name? Kevin (pictured) and Carol Haberle, sharing their research with Think Tasmania
Click image for article about mountain huts (including Haberle’s Hut) in the Great Western Tiers

Where Did That Name Come From?

by Carol Haberle

Many of the names are quite obvious. Take Penguin for instance, named for the colonies of fairy penguins that were found along the foreshore. Some were named from Aboriginal words on a list drawn up in 1885 by Leventhorpe Hall, Chief Draftsman of the Surveys Office, to be applied to any new towns, parishes, railway stations and schools, such as Tarraleah, being the local Aboriginal name for the forester kangaroo. Some were named for our early explorers and settlers, their ships, or for places from their homelands, hence many of our towns have the same names as English towns… and some we truly have no idea for what they were named. Here is the beginnings of a list of Tasmanian towns and why they were named as such, a list I will build on over the coming months.

Name - Penguin
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The iconic ‘Big Penguin’ (click image for more information) stands on the foreshore at Penguin, Tasmania

Hobart

Australia’s second oldest city and the capital city of Tasmania. Named Hobart Town after Robert Hobart, fourth Earl of Buckinghamshire. Robert Hobart was Secretary of State for the colonies. In 1881 the word “Town” was dropped by an Act of Parliament when it became a city. There were moves to name it Hobarton but this failed.

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Hobart, Tasmania’s capital city… magic on the waterfront by night
For more stunning images of the Hobart waterfront by night, click image

Launceston

Settled by Europeans in March 1806, Launceston is also one of Australia’s oldest, and Tasmania’s second largest city. It was named after a town in the United Kingdom, Launceston, Cornwall.

Name - Launceston
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Entrance to City Park, Launceston (click image for more information)

Burnie

Originally named Emu Bay for the wild emus which roamed the region, the name was changed to Burnie in 1829 when the town was surveyed. The name honours a director of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, William Burnie.

Name - Burnie
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The Waterfront, Burnie, Tasmania (click image to read about the waterfront Paper Trail in Burnie)

Coles Bay

Named in memory of Silas Cole. He was a lonely lime burner who collected the shells from the Aboriginal middens and burnt them for lime. Freycinet Peninsula is well known for the whaling parties, tin miners and coal miners who have lived and worked here since European settlement.


 

Bothwell

Named by Lieutenant Governor George Arthur in 1824 after the town of Bothwell in Lanarkshire, Scotland. During its early years the settlement was known first as Fat Doe River and then Clyde River before being named Bothwell.

Name - Bothwell
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Scenic View of Bothwell, Tasmania (click image for more information about Bothwell)

Penguin

First settled in 1861, Penguin was named by the botanist Ronald Campbell Gunn for the fairy penguin rookeries that were common along this coastal area, mainly for one in particular located near the mouth of a creek near the town.

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Penguin, a popular town (with a great name!) in north west Tasmania
Click image to read another article about the Town of Penguin

Golden Valley

So named for the wattles and wild daffodils, in Spring this valley truly turns to gold as the wattles come into flower and wild golden daffodils create a carpet of gold across the paddocks.

Name - Golden Valley
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Golden Valley, Tasmania… truly turns to gold in Spring

Derby

Surveyed in 1855, this area was not settled or inhabited until 1874, when tin was discovered in the region. Discovering a large lode of tin, the Krushka brothers set up a mine named The Brothers Mine in the area, which assured the town an economic future. The town was originally known as Brother’s Home, named for the Krushka Brothers. In 1897 it was renamed Derby, believed to be after Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.


 

Arthur River

The name of both a river and a small township on the north of the west coast of Tasmania. The river was the first to be named, after Sir George Arthur who was the Lieutenant Governor of Van Diemens Land (1824-36).

Name - Arthur River
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Arthur River, Tasmania… the township of Arthur River lies on both sides of the Arthur River

Cressy

Named for the Cressy Company, a business formed in England to run the large agricultural farms and grazing enterprises in the colony, the town was named by the first company director Captain Bartholemew Boyle Thomas.

Name - Cressy
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Brumbys Creek, a fishermens paradise near Cressy Tasmania (click image for more information)

Deloraine

The district of Deloraine was named by Thomas Scott, a relative of Sir Walter Scott (15 August 1771–21 September 1832) who was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world in the 19th century. Deloraine was named for Sir William Deloraine, a character in Scott’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’.

Name - Deloraine
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Deloraine, Tasmania… lies around the picturesque Meander River

Queenstown

Named in honour of Queen Victoria, who was the reigning monarch in 1897 when the town was declared.

Name - Queenstown
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Looking up Orr Street in Queenstown to Mt. Owen, west coast of Tasmania
Click image to read another article about Queenstown in Tasmania

No Where Else

Is located on the Kentish coastal plains. No Where Else was so named because the original road from Barrington ended in a farmers back yard. There was literally nowhere else to go!

Name - No Where Else
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Follow the street sign to No Where Else, Tasmania

New Norfolk

Was originally known as The Hills due to its hilly nature. Many farmers from Norfolk Island were transferred here in 1808 when their settlement was closed down, and so it became New Norfolk! Each settler was granted 10 acres of land for every one acre they held on Norfolk Island, plus they were given a guarantee of rations for a year.


 

Gunns Plains

Located 20 km south of Ulverstone on the north-west coast of Tasmania, the name Gunns Plains honours Ronald Campbell Gunn, who discovered the valley back in 1860. Ronald Campbell Gunn was an explorer, a botanist, and a public servant who collected and discovered many plants. He was the most prolific botanical collector across Tasmania for over 40 years and often sent samples of our native plant life to Kew Gardens in London, England and the University of Scotland.

Name - Gunns Plains
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Gunns Plains, Tasmania… beautiful rural valley

The Vale of Belvoir

The Vale of Belvoir was named in 1827 by Joseph Fossey, after the valley of the same name in Leicestershire, England. Fossey, while on a surveying expedition for the Van Diemans Land Company, was looking for a stock route from Mole Creek to the VDL Holdings at Surrey Hills, south of Burnie.

Name - Vale of Belvoir
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Views from Rocky Mount Lookout, Vale of Belvoir (click image for more information)

Yolla

Is a small rural community in north-western Tasmania. Yolla is a Tasmanian Aboriginal word for the Short-tailed Shearwater or muttonbird as they are commonly known.

Name - Yolla
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Evening light plays magic on the rural countryside around Yolla, Tasmania

Other Tasmanian Town Names to Feature

As you have read, Tasmania holds many unusual and unique names for its towns. I have many more, but too many to put in one article. If you know of any I’d be only too happy to hear of them, please add them in the ‘comments’ below and I’ll add them to future lists for publication here if I don’t already have them. Thank you in advance.

All photos strictly ©Carol Haberle, H&H Photography.
You can follow Carol on Facebook at Haberle Photo Cards
Carol writes feature articles for us about all things Tasmanian.
If you’d like Carol to visit you, please contact Think Tasmania.

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