Happy 75th Birthday Geographic Names Committee!
12 December 2011
Mention the North Pole and it might conjure up images of a man in a red suit and reindeers.
But Landgate's Geographic Names Committee (GNC), which recently turned 75-years-old, can confirm the North Pole is also a mining centre in the Pilbara. Ironically it was named after the extremely hot weather in the region.
The GNC has been presented with many interesting suggestions for names over the years. Some were approved and others weren't considered appropriate for a variety of reasons.
Landgate's Geographic Names Manager Danielle Stefani said the GNC was established following a request from the Western Australian Historical Society.
"They believed the State's roads and towns should be named in a way that was relevant and meaningful to their origin," Mrs Stefani said.
The Society felt a committee should be established to specifically undertake this important role. It was agreed that names of towns and roads should reflect the history or indigenous features of a particular area.
On July 27 1936, the first meeting of the Advisory Committee on Nomenclature was held. Years later in 1987, it became known as the Geographic Names Committee.
Mrs Stefani said the GNC had come a long way over the last seven decades though many of the issues were of a similar nature to those raised in the past.
"One of the items on the agenda from the first meeting was radio announcers mispronouncing names on the Wireless Broadcasting Stations," Mrs Stefani said.
The purpose of the GNC has remained the same over the years, with its primary role to ensure naming decisions for the State Government are carried out in a democratic way. The Committee continues to provide geographic naming advice to the Minister for Lands Brendon Grylls.
Mrs Stefani said the system used by the GNC allowed for the orderly process of designating names for roads, landscape and seascape entities ensuring they remain an integral part of Western Australian culture.
Prior to names being approved, other important factors such as emergency services, communications and transport are taken into account.
"Appointments to the GNC are still made by the Minister for Lands and they are considered to represent a broad cross-section of the community," Mrs Stefani said.
Just as there were in the early days of the GNC, the Committee comprises representatives from several government departments including Australia Post, Department of Indigenous Affairs, FESA and Landgate. There are also representatives from the Western Australian Local Government Association. The GNC is about to apply for ministerial approval to pave the way for two non-government representatives to join the Committee.
"The Geographic Names Committee processes over 1500 naming applications each year," Mrs Stefani said.
"It is very much a collaborative approach where we work closely with local governments, land developers and also the general public. Much thought and consideration goes on throughout the whole process."
If you would like to see other unusual Western Australian names that have been presented
to the Geographic Names Committee, please go to www.landgate.wa.gov.au/unusualplacenames
Landgate is Western Australia's primary source of land information and geographic data, providing the accuracy government, business and individuals rely on.
Phone: +61 (0)8 9273 7564