A Sideways Glance at the Hidden Meaning of Aussie Place Names

There are many place names around the world that cry out to tell you their true meaning. Well, perhaps not their ridgey didge true meaning, but who has ever looked at the name Footscray and not felt that it probably also exists as an entry in a medical dictionary? Or Patchewollock, or Humpty Doo? Exactly.

This work attempts to do for (or to) Australian place names what Douglas Adams and John Lloyd did for Britain and the rest of the world, in The Meaning of Liff and The Deeper Meaning of Liff.

Words by Duncan Waldron, illustrations by Matt Davis.

Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.


See Why am I doing this? for something approaching a motive.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Amoonguna - Areyonga

Amoonguna n
Someone given to prowling during the hours of darkness, laughing quietly at small dogs and shrubs.

Andamooka adj
The condition of woollen gloves, socks, etc, after handling or stepping in something damp and grimy.

Anduramba n
The determined anticipation felt by a person about to remove a sticking plaster from a particularly hairy part of their body. Also, their state of mind for the following five minutes, pretending that nothing is wrong and that they have just got a bit of dust in their eyes.

Anembo n
A small and mischievous sprite that distracts your attention, removes an object just after you put it down, and either puts it back where you picked it up from after you have gone looking for it, or moves it to another room that you have not been in for some time. Anembos thrive on the sound of “Have you seen my…?”

Angourie n
An ancient tribal ritual used to prepare a tee-shirt for its transition from garment to cleaning rag.

Antill Ponds n
Pools of water lying beside the shower mat, left there by a teenager. cf Birre Sand Blow.

Anyarro n
The expression on the face of the person you are speaking to, who obviously does not believe a word of what you are saying. Many politicians are familiar with this expression, from election-time canvassing.

Applethorpe n
A dental condition, caused by a small piece of apple peel becoming wedged in the teeth, or between tooth and gum. With certain varieties, this can prove fatal, or at least very expensive. If it occurs at a major social event, ostracision is almost inevitable, especially following attempts to remove it with any promising piece of cutlery. cf Widgiemooltha.

Argalong n
The need felt by a politician to answer a question in as long-winded manner as possible, in the belief that he will sound more convincing. It will quickly become apparent that the answer has no real connection with the question, but this will not deter the speaker. cf Booragoon.

Aratula n
The neighbour who borrows your drill, lawnmower, electric ferret-straightener, etc, and returns it 6 months later, complaining that it doesn’t work any more.

Arbuckle Junction n
In a high-speed car crash with no serious injuries, the mark left on any bare skin by a seat belt fixture.

Ardmory n
The subtle play to obtain the last sandwich, jam tart, etc, on the plate. cf Nullamanna.

Ardglen n
Any property in the bush that has been lovingly transformed by its owner into an exact replica of the highland croft that his ancestors migrated from. It will of course, lack certain minor features, such as midges, a 95% covering of rich green grass, and a perpetual state of either howling wind or misty rain.

Areegra n
A strange yellow-green mould found only in the inner recesses of Drizabone coats. Science will, one day, find a use for it, but not before it has rendered many coats either useless or just plain disgusting.

Areyonga n
Areyonga occurs when you mean to say one thing, but the words come out mangled. Neville Chamberlain fell victim to Areyonga after meeting Adolf Hitler, when he said “...peace in our time.” What he meant to say is lost to history, though it was most probably something like, “I’ve been taken for a ride, haven’t I?” Areyonga committed on first dates can be quite devastating for subsequent good relations between the parties.

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