Unusual place names

Here are some of the more unusual names in Western Australia as well as an insight into how they got their names in the first place.


Ardath is a townsite on the railway line between Corrigin and Bruce Rock. It was originally named Kerkenin townsite in April 1914, but was changed in 1915 because of confusion with Kukerin. The name Ardath was suggested by the Secretary for Railways. Ardath is the name of a prophet mentioned in the second book of the Apocrypha called Edras. The name may also be from the novel 'Ardath, the Story of a Dead Past' by Marie Corelli.

Crooked Brook

Surveyor GR Turner (field book 29, page 1, 19/1/1888). Named after the shape of the brook.

Cyanide Swamp

Named by station lessees prior to 1966.


Aboriginal name of rocks and a lake, recorded 1886.

Disaster Bay

Named by Captain Phillip Parker King of HMS 'Bathurst' , 14 February 1822, "from the loss and perplexity we met within it". An anchor was lost and the ship becalmed there, drifting back and forth on the tide among dangerous reefs.

Disaster Water 

Named by LA Wells (21.12.1896) Calvert Scientific Exploring Expedition 1896-97, page 45. Exploration Plan No.97 - 1896 (LA Wells). Two of Wells' camels were poisoned here, and one died.

Geekabee Hill

Originally recorded as Warreup, this hill was renamed because of duplication to Geekabee Hill in 1949. The name originates from the initials of the late George Kershaw Brown.


Conversely there are numerous features and roads with the name Hope. Five creeks, a hill, two islands, a river, a range etc and a couple of wells in the desert named Salvation Well.


Aboriginal name.

Monkey Mia

This name was first used for the area in the 1890s, but it has always been doubtful where the name came from. In 2006 it was located in a list of Aboriginal names meaning 'salt or bad water' provided by the Police Station in Geraldton in 1899, and this is now regarded as a reliable source. Other theories include: named after the 'Monkey', a schooner which was in Shark Bay in 1834; a pearling boat named 'Monkey'; name or nickname of a resident; corruption of an Aboriginal word; descriptive name to describe the camping place of Chinese pearlers; 'monkey' is a colloquialism for sheep; a pearling boat had a monkey as a mascot which jumped ship at this place; the 'Herald', from which Capt Henry Mangles Denham surveyed Shark Bay in 1858 had a monkey as a mascot.

Mount Richtofen

Named by John Forrest in 1878 (field book 18 pages 3,16,& 29). Probably after Baron Ferdinand von Richtofen (1833-1905), a German geographer, geologist and traveller. In 1878 the Baron received the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society "for his extensive travels and scientific exploration in China".

John Forrest received the same medal in 1876. Forrest named this hill during a trigonometrical survey of the region.


The place name of Nillup, according to Mrs Rose Watson of Augusta Historical Society, is an anagram of 'Pullin' a popular local identity who would not agree to have his name perpetuated (Harold Maughan Pullin).

Nomans Lake

The origin of the name is not known, having been first recorded by Surveyor JO Oxley in 1892. It may be the surname of an early settler, but it could also literally mean 'no man's' lake.

North Pole

A mining centre in the Pilbara, most likely named because it was so hot.

Paradise Creek

Reason for naming not known. Premier/Governor James Mitchell was born on Paradise Farm in 1866.

Point Torment

Named by Capt. J L Stokes RN (1838) – HMS Beagle. So named from the pressing attention of swarms of mosquitoes. "A name was soon found for our new territory, upon which we with rueful unanimity conferred that of Point Torment, from the incessant and vindictive attacks of swarms of mosquitoes, by whom it had evidently been resolved to give the newcomers a warm welcome" JL Stokes, Discoveries in Australia, Vol 1 page 128, 25 February 1838.


Siberia is an abandoned Goldfields townsite, located 655km east-northeast of Perth and 86km north-west of Kalgoorlie. Gold was discovered here by the prospectors Billy Frost and Bob Bonner in the late 1890s, and the influx of miners into the area soon created demand for a townsite. Lots were surveyed and land for a townsite to be named Siberia was set aside in 1898, but when it came to gazetting the townsite the Chairman of the local Progress Committee suggested it be named Waverley, after one of the mines in the area. Waverley townsite was gazetted in October 1898.

In 1911 the Postmaster General's Department raised concern with the government about town names which were duplicated in other states, Waverley being one of these. Siberia was suggested as an alternative name, as was Wongi, derived from nearby Wongine Soak. The majority of the residents preferred Siberia, and the name change was gazetted in November 1914. Siberia derives its name from Siberia Tank, a nearby water supply for the area. The origin of the name is not known, but it is felt it was probably named after the Russian state of Siberia, for humorous reasons, being so hot.

Strawberry Hill

Corruption of the Aboriginal 'tawberry', the name given to a white sand patch in the bed of the Irwin River. One source stated it to be the name of an Aboriginal boy.

Useless Inlet, Loop

"On going up this creek, we soon came into a very pretty small harbour, but which unfortunately being closed in by a sand-bank on which there is not more that three feet water, it can never admit a vessel of any size". For this reason L Freycinet named this feature Useless Harbour on 8 August 1801. The above quote was taken from MF Peron's account of "A Voyage of Discovery to the Southern Hemisphere" on page 155. It was shown as 'Havre Inutile' on Exploration Plan 176 - 1801 by L Freycinet. (Harbour unusable - useless is a loose translation of the French, probably by Commander Denham, RN in 1858).

Woop Woop

The place name Woop Woop takes its name from an abandoned mill town of the same name located in this area, which came into existence in 1925. The Macquarie Dictionary describes Woop Woop as "Any remote or backward town or district". The Australian National Dictionary (Oxford) 1988 gives the meaning as "A remote and supposedly backward rural town or district". This dictionary also records the first use of the name as 1918 in 'Back to Bush' by NPH Neal. It has also been suggested (no definitive reference) that the name is derived from the sound made by frogs in the locality.

This page was last updated on: 10 Mar 2021