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How The 7 States Of Australia Were Named

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Learn the origins of the names of the States of Australia.

I put this series of articles together because I've always been fascinated with the little stories about: How Things Were Named.

New South Wales

Writing in his diaries on a return trip from Australia, Captain Cook referred to this land upon which would be founded a British colony, as New South Wales. It has been logically speculated that he may have believe the landscape there looked like the South of Wales in the United Kingdom. (source)


This state was named in honour of Queen Victoria. She preferred an eponymous name for the new colony over Cooksland, a name which had been suggested by local Presbyterian minister John Dunmore Lang in honour of English navigator James Cook.  (source)

South Australia

South Australia was the first state to split from New South Wales in 1836. It was founded as a free province, meaning it was never a penal colony. The origins of its name are rather mundane as it is located in the Southern region of Australia. The earliest recorded use of the name Australia was in 1625, in a note published by Samuel Purchas. (source)


Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered the island in 1642, and named the island "Anthony van Diemen's Land" after his sponsor, the Governor of the Dutch East Indies. It was officially renamed Tasmania in honour of Abel Tasman on 1 January 1856. A common colloquial name for the state is "Tassie".



Victoria, like Queensland, was named after Queen Victoria. She was the the reigning monarch in the mid 1850s, a time when the region was becoming more heavily populated due to a massive gold rush.


Western Australia

This state was traditionally part of the heartland of Indigenous Australians, who first migrated to the region over 40 000 years ago. The first British settlement was founded in 1826 in response to concerns over the a possible French colony being established on the coast of Western Australia. However the name 'Western Australia' didn't become the official name of an Australian state until 1901.


Northern Territory

The Northern Territory was actually part of New South Wales from 1825 to 1863. From 1927 to 1931 the Northern Territory was actually divided into two seperately named territories: North Australia and Central Australia. The nomenclature used to define these lands changed regularly until 1978, when the Territory was granted responsible government, with a Legislative Assembly headed by a Chief Minister.


I hope you've enjoyed this information. If you want to check out a few similar articles here's:

- How 13 Major Canadian Cities Got Their Names

- How The 7 Continents Got Their Names


john doe
Posted on Mar 19, 2011
Salvatore W. Delle Palme
Posted on Jan 19, 2011
Ron Siojo
Posted on Jan 19, 2011

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Salvatore W. Delle Palme

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