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Cockatoo To Humpty Doo

Cockatoo To Humpty Doo

What's in a name? Australia has many quirky names for the different towns and regions across the country and with more than 160 languages spoken throughout Australia, many of these place names are influenced by the varying culture. These place names have derived years ago, relating to events in each particular region, and often it can prove to be a great tongue twister for visitors.

Tourism Australia's Regional Manager, New Zealand, Vito Anzelmi believes these places are full of unique and interesting experiences waiting to be discovered.

"Australia's small towns are not only quirky and fun to say, but they're even more fun to explore. There is no better way to experience these places than by immersing yourself in the culture and getting to know the local people," says Anzelmi.

"Australia's towns are unique and the characters who live there have many fascinating stories to tell," says Anzelmi.

Below are a few quirky place names that often evoke a response from tourists.

Burning Mountain, New South Wales
Early explorers assumed Burning Mountain's smoke and grey smoldering ash was an active volcano. In fact, the mountain's naturally-burning coal seam, unique in Australia, is thought to have been smoking for over 5,500 years. The mountain is situated in Burning Mountain National Park and is open to visitors to view the smoke from numerous view platforms around the park. Burning Mountain Nature Reserve is perfect for visitors to experience walking through open forest and the chance to encounter native Australian animals who inhabit the area.

Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

Found on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, this vibrant Australian city was originally home to the largest Aboriginal tribe in New South Wales, the Wiradjuri. The name Wagga Wagga comes from the Aboriginal language and means the place of many crows. Often used as a base for some of Australia's great holiday destinations, Wagga Wagga is a culturally rich community perfect for learning about the Wiradjuri tribe and Aboriginal culture.

Cape Catastrophe, South Australia
Cape Catastrophe is the site of the first recorded Australian shipwreck in 1802. The ship, The Investigator, was hit by unpredictable surf at the popular tourist destination in the Eyre Peninsula. The Eyre Peninsula has a spectacular coastline of over
200 kilometres and is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and sheltered coves and bays. The region is famous for its fishing and seafood lovers will enjoy the local delicacies which include southern rock lobster and western king prawns.

Cockatoo, Victoria
Often confused with a large white bird, Cockatoo is also a coastal town only 48 kilometres east of Melbourne. The town began mostly for farming families, but has since grown to become more suburban with many people choosing to retire in this peaceful rural village. Just a short drive away from Cockatoo is Healesville Sanctuary, Australia's premier wildlife park. This truly unique experience is lead by a sanctuary keeper and gives visitors the opportunity to come face with all types of Australian creatures.

Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia
Dirk Hartog Island is the site of the first European landing in Australia in 1616. Dirk Hartog Island was named after the captain of the ship, The Eendracht. Today Dirk Hartog Island is one of Australia's most unique and remote eco tourism destinations and is located in the World Heritage Site, Shark Bay.

Wyalkatchem, Western Australia (pronounced while-catch-em)

Situated under 200 kilometers from Perth, Wyalkatchem is a small town of approximately 620 people with huge community spirit. The town lies on the old Goldfields Track, where people hunted for gold in the 1800s and is home to Australia's largest collection of wildflowers. A must stop during wildflower season.

Hells Gate, Queensland
The serene harbour of Hells Gate gets its name from re-offending convicts being shipped to the area. The harbour entrance is perceived by many as a death trap, with vessels having to navigate the rocky surroundings. Interestingly, the top two metres is fresh water from the Gordon River while underneath turns to salt water from the sea. Visitors can enjoy prehistoric rainforests in the area which are home to a variety of birdlife including rear native species such as the Carpentaria Grass Wren and the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo.

Gympie, Queensland
Gympie is an old mining town situated along the Brue Highway on the Fraser Coast. The name Gympie is derived from a local stinging tree which the Aborigines called gimpi gimpi. In Rotaract Park, alongside the Bruce Highway, is a statue called Husman Place which is dedicated to the minors who worked in Gympie during the gold rush. If you're in the area, be sure you head south to Nambour which is home to the giant pineapple of Australia.

Humpty Doo, Northern Territory
Humpty Doo lies 47 kilometres from Darwin on the Arnhem Highway. It is famous for the failed post-war agricultural experiments that took place in the 1950s. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong with the experiments and they were eventually called off and the land forfeited to the government. Today, Humpty Doo is a large residential suburb that attracts people who want to escape city life and live outside Darwin, but still within easy commuting. Daring visitors can take a trip to Graeme Gow's Reptile World which houses over 300 different species of snakes, including Australia's deadliest varieties.

Bust-Me-Gall Hill and Break-Me-Neck Hill, Tasmania

Situated on the road from Hobart to Orford, these famous hills are true to their names both with incredibly steep inclines making both the ascent and decent very difficult. It is uncertain how the names derived, however it is believed that early east coast settlers and travellers used these terms to describe the hills and the names stuck. If you're up for a challenge, visitors can join a four day cycling tour of the east coast which includes navigating both these hills in quick succession. The views over Freycinet Peninsula makes the ascent worth while.


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