How places are named
To ensure there is no confusion, errors or discrimination caused by names, we use the following principles when considering names or boundary changes.
Names should be simple and concise and easy to recognise, spell and pronounce. In the case of Indigenous languages, it is accepted that a traditional name which might appear at first to be complex will, over time, become familiar and easy to use within the community.
Names should be no longer than 50 characters. Locality names should preferably be one word, while feature names should include a generic term (e.g. 'river' or 'bay') to indicate the feature type.
Only characters from the standard alphabet can be included (i.e. no special characters, diacritical marks or punctuation marks). Possessive apostrophes should be removed (e.g. 'Bethels Green' not 'Bethel's Green'), but apostrophes that are part of a personal name (e.g. 'O'Connor') can be retained. Hyphens should be replaced by spaces.
Numbers should be spelled out (e.g. 'Seventeen Seventy' not '1770').
Names should not begin with 'The', unless there are strong historical reasons for doing so.
Abbreviations, initials or acronyms are not allowed, except for the use of 'St' for 'Saint'.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names
Names from Indigenous languages should be transcribed as accurately as possible to suggest a pronunciation as close to the Indigenous form as possible. Names should be local to the area and endorsed by the local Indigenous community.
Alternative names can be used to recognise the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander name for a geographic feature where an approved name already exists and a name change is not acceptable. Alternative names are usually shown on maps and signs in brackets after or below the approved name, e.g. Big Woody Island (Tooliewah).
Dual naming is a management tool that can be used to gradually change the name of a geographic feature where an approved name already exists and a sudden change to the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander name is not possible or acceptable. Dual names consist of 2 parts separated by a forward slash (/) and the order of the parts is to be reviewed at regular intervals (e.g. Uluru/Ayers Rock).
In Queensland, geographical features may be given either a dual name or an alternative name, but not both.
Localities, suburbs and towns cannot have dual or alternate names.
Names should not be offensive, racist, derogatory or demeaning.
Name that could be construed as advertising or promoting commercial enterprises should not be used.
Naming a place in honour of a person should only occur after the person has passed away. The person commemorated should have contributed significantly to the area (ownership of land in itself is not sufficient). The spelling of the place name should follow the spelling of the personal name from which it is derived (e.g. 'MacRaes Flat' not 'McRaes Flat', where named after Mrs MacRae).
Cardinal indicators and similar prefixes or suffixes (e.g. 'Upper', 'New', 'East', 'West') should be avoided and more distinctive names used. If the use of such terms cannot be avoided, they should appear as suffixes instead of prefixes (e.g. 'Capalaba West' not 'West Capalaba').
Locality names must not duplicate or be similar in spelling or sound to other locality names within the country (e.g. 'Wytmont', 'Whitmont').
Feature names should not be similar in sound or spelling to any similar feature in the surrounding area.
Check for possible name duplication using the Gazetteer of Australia.
Names should not be words or acronyms protected by state or Commonwealth legislation, without the appropriate Ministerial approval.
Place names are intended to be enduring and should only be changed where there are sound reasons. Long-term benefits to the community must outweigh any private or corporate interests, short-term effects, and the impact on the community in making a change.
- Refer to the Department of Resources’ Place Names Policy for guidance on general matters of place naming as they relate to the Department.
- Visit the Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping for national principles for the consistent use of place names.
- Purchase the Australian/New Zealand standard Rural and urban addressing (AS/NZS 4819:2011) for guidance on allocating addressing, and naming roads and localities.
In this guide:
- What can be named?
- Naming processes
- Suggesting a place name or boundary change
- Naming principles
- Defining boundaries and extent
- History of Queensland place naming