ACT News


The last laugh in suburb names

Canberra's meticulous methods for selecting place names have saved the capital from giggle-inducing addresses such as Fannie Bay or Yorkeys Knob.

And as the city's expansion continues into the vast new Molonglo Valley, planners are busy ensuring people are moving into appropriately named suburbs and streets.

Perhaps not surprisingly for Canberra, the process is a complicated and thorough one, ACT place names committee co-chairman Bill Hirst says.

For example, short streets cannot have long names.

Major roads tend to be associated with more prominent identities.

Names can't be used twice, to avoid confusion, and each suburb is also issued with a particular theme for its streets.


''For example we live in Cook, which is [themed] famous and influential women,'' Mr Hirst said. ''Holder is surveyors. [However] the name of the suburb, or the person it is named after, doesn't necessarily dictate the theme.''

Mr Hirst said it could take months to find a suitable place name, which was always Australian themed.

Researchers first cross-check potential names with existing addresses and family members if applicable, before referring suggestions to the committee. The committee then prepares a document for the Legislative Assembly, which is tabled for several days before a decision is made.

Mr Hirst couldn't recall the Assembly rejecting a proposal, but said there had been some changes made to addresses in the past.

''One street was named after Whiskey Bay,'' he said. ''The suburb had the theme of other place names in Australia. People didn't like the alcoholic connotations of it, so it was changed.''

Canberra's suburbs are named after many personalities, including former prime ministers such as Alfred Deakin and Harold Holt, as well as famous cultural identities such as Dame Nellie Melba and Stella Miles Franklin.

There are also several Aboriginal words, such as Yarralumla - meaning echo - and Amaroo, which translates to beautiful place.

Even farmers get a look in with Ainslie, named after James Ainslie, the first overseer of Duntroon Station, who was employed to drive a mob of sheep south from Bathurst.

Unlike Canberra, most states and territories have examples of innuendo-laden place names or addresses that have become embarrassing over time, Australian Property Investor deputy editor Shannon Molloy says.

''All in all, Canberra looks to have come out unscathed when it comes to giggle-worthy suburb naming,'' he said.

But in spite of the capital's prestigious sounding addresses, Mr Molloy said names had little impact on property prices.

''Across a number of examples, there's no apparent trend of slower price growth because of a name,'' he said.

''In fact, there could be something about the Australian vernacular that makes these situations a strength rather than a weakness.''