Having just watched a fortnight of Australian Grand Slam tennis, which is two weeks in case you didn’t know this odd word far more popular in England and Australia than here in the U.S., I am reminiscing about our half-year spent Down Under. Because this was a driving trip, I sat with a map in my lap for months when I wasn’t driving myself, and the names of the towns just had such an interesting ring to them.
From my journal from August 17, 2002:
I’ll tell you straight, on top of the dreaded north/south/ east/west situation, reading a road map in Australia is linguistic aerobics. When I attempt to announce where we are heading, it’s as if I’m five again, sounding out my letters one syllable at a time.
Oh sure, see how you’d do.
Murwillumbah is north of Mullumbimby. Of course, you have to pass through Woolgoolga and Yuraygir National Park first. National Parks are particularly treacherous, as you next pass Bundjalung National Park. Because I’ve spent lots of time looking at the whole map of Australia, I know that down near Perth (ok, that’s easy) is Gnowangerup, quite near Jerramungup and Moulyinning. While you taste wines near Margaret River (aah, the simplicity), you can attempt Cowaramup or Yallingup. I’m pretty sure they threw in nearby Nannup to be kind to the severely inebriated. Biddaddaba isn’t anywhere close to Nannup, but I like how that one sounds – or at least how I think it sounds.
There’s Indooroopilly, Queensland and Koombooloomba, Queensland. Lest you think Queensland has a corner on the ridiculous name market, check out Iiykuwaratja, South Australia and Koorarawalyee, Western Australia.
If Australians like a town name well enough, they’ll use it twice for emphasis. Wagga Wagga. Willi Willi. Grong Grong. Ki Ki. Curl Curl. Boonoo Boonoo. Gol Gol. Jil Jil. There’s the sexy sounding Milla Milla. The tasty Kurri Kurri. And the slightly raunchy Booti Booti National Park.
Imagine the embarrassment of trying to do serious work in Humpty Doo, Salmon Gums, Gympie or Dee Why. Then again, other towns sound positively lovely. To wit: Violet Town, Upper Plenty, Mount Pleasant or Daydream Island. I’m pretty sure I’d pass on buying a home in Denial Bay or Weary Bay, and I wonder about the housing prices on Rottnest Island. Snobs Creek must be a barrel of laughs. There are dolphins in Monkey Mia, so I’m a little confused there. And apparently Dead Horse Gap was particularly hard on horses.
I have a soft spot for the straightforward and highly pronounceable Big Green Island.