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Aboriginal Placenames

8. Reconstruction of Aboriginal microtoponymy in western and central Victoria

Case studies from Tower Hill, the Hopkins River, and Lake Boga

Ian Clark


In an analysis of the state of knowledge of Aboriginal local organisation, Tindale (1963) observed that there had been very few maps produced showing the distribution of Aboriginal placenames within Aboriginal language areas. Strehlow (1970) shared Tindale’s surprise that so little attention had been given to Aboriginal placenames. Yet Stanner (1965) considered it was only possible to conduct basic studies of local organisation in a few places and in a restricted range of environments. According to Stanner (1965), the mapping of spatial organisation should attempt to delineate at least ten sets of data. The first step he identified as the mapping of the distinctive habitats recognised by Aboriginal people. Thus, the first layer of entries in certain regions would be an Aboriginal ecological classification seen in a broad patchwork of names such as ‘scrub people’, ‘sand hill people’ and ‘yam people’ that would reflect systematic observations of topography, flora and fauna, and geographical dynamics. The second layer would contain placenames by the hundred or thousand. Taylor (1976) believed the skills necessary to map local organisation included those of explorer, botanist, anthropologist, geographer, linguist, and cartographer and observed that most field workers had made little more than token efforts. Recently Peter Sutton observed that there “are surprisingly few comprehensive and linguistically sophisticated accounts of group and territorial naming systems in the ethnographic literature for Australia” (Sutton 2003: 60).

Stanner alludes to the fact that a given region or isolate of study in traditional or classical Aboriginal local organisation contained hundreds or thousands of placenames. The Hillier map of Aboriginal placenames of north-eastern South Australia is an example of the dense profusion of named Aboriginal sites in a given area (see Jones 2002). The extent of toponymic knowledge traditionally known is hinted in the following excerpt in Robinson’s journal of travelling with a Bargundidj man named Ulotebeen:

I started from Lynot’s with the Bar conedeet native to give me information but as it was raining hard I cantered on at a brisk pace and my Aboriginal friend run’d and kept pace with me. He was armed with spears. He kept chatting about his country and calling out the names of different localitys and said his country was good country. I answered in the affirmative which afforded him satisfaction. (Robinson Jnl 30 July 1841 in Clark 2000a)

Little mention is made in this literature of reconstructing the name-scapes of now extinct Aboriginal formations. From 2000 until 2002, the author was responsible for a major project concerned with the documentation of Victorian Aboriginal placenames (Clark and Heydon 2002) and sponsored by the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages. This project was a major collaboration between historical geographers, linguists, and community language workers, and some 3400 placenames were collated. Where possible, Luise Hercus and Barry Blake, the linguists involved in the project, provided modern broad phonetic transcriptions for each placename. It was found that in regions where Aboriginal languages no longer prevail, such as in western and central Victoria, it was still possible to reconstruct something of the detailed microtoponymy characteristic of Aboriginal languages.

Microtoponymy literally means the study of minor or small placenames, and in this paper is used to refer to the study of those names of features that are part of a larger geographical entity, such as the name for the bank on a lake, or for a feature on a bank of a lake, or a waterhole in a river, or the name of a feature on the side of a mountain. Thus a microtoponym is the name of a feature that is itself part of a larger named entity. Some of these findings will be discussed in the remainder of this paper and examples will be drawn from western and central Victoria, focusing on three physical geographical phenomena – a river (the Hopkins River); a volcanic maar (Tower Hill), and a lake (Lake Boga). Each of these three examples is primarily sourced from a different recorder working in a different period, and it is possible to make observations of the unique contributions each has made to the recovery of microtoponymy. Details concerning the placenames of the three areas are given in Tables 8.1-3 in the Appendix.

Robinson and the Hopkins River

The Hopkins River rises in what is now cleared farming land between Mt Langi Ghiran and Ararat in Djabwurrung country (Clark 1990). The name ‘Hopkins’ was conferred by New South Wales (NSW) Surveyor General Major T. L. Mitchell in September 1836 after Sir John Paul Hopkins, a military friend. The river transects three language areas (Djabwurrung, Giraiwurrung, and Dhauwurdwurrung) (Clark 1990), and some 25 placenames have been documented that apply to junctions with other streams, waterholes, the confluence of the river, and other localities along its course (see Table 8.1) (Clark and Heydon 2002). Three of these names are considered to be Djabwurrung, three are considered to be either Djabwurrung or Dhauwurdwurrung/Giraiwurrung, and the remaining 19 are considered to be Dhauwurdwurrung/Giraiwurrung. Of these 25 names, Robinson is a primary source for 20, Dawson (1881) for four, and Smyth (1878) for the remaining name. As far as it is possible to do so, the names are listed in geographical order from the source of the river to its confluence.

The personal journals and papers of public servant, George Augustus Robinson (1788-1866), provide an important primary source for research into Indigenous placenames in Victoria. Robinson was the Chief Protector of the Port Phillip Aboriginal Protectorate Department from 1839 until early 1850. The protectorate conducted the first attempt to record information on the Aboriginal people of Victoria. Protectorate officials were expected to collect “the aboriginal names of mountains, lakes, rivers and other localities; the difference of language, customs, and habits of each tribe” (Cannon 1983: 453). Robinson was perhaps the European with the most experience of travelling throughout the Port Phillip District in the early colonial period, and in total, he spent almost three years of his 11-year appointment travelling. During this time, Robinson assiduously kept a personal journal (Clark 2000a,b). On the basis of the amount, type and range of information it contains, Presland’s (1989: 10) assessment is that “the journal is unique in Victoria”.

Robinson was a self-educated London contractor and jobbing builder cum bricklayer (Plomley 1956: 24). Biographer Vivienne Rae-Ellis (1988: 5) has noted that he received basic skills in reading and writing during his childhood, and, as he grew older, “his hunger for knowledge developed rapidly and he satisfied his innate curiosity by reading diligently”. Robinson immigrated to Tasmania in 1824 and from 1829 was employed to ‘conciliate’ and collect the surviving Tasmanians onto refuges such as that at Flinders Island where he served as commandant. His ten years of daily contact with Indigenous people in Tasmania equipped him to ask questions concerning spatial and social organisation, and linguistic identification. When Robinson wrote Indigenous words he often broke them up into syllables as an indication of their pronunciation, although Plomley (1966: 6) has noted that “the frequent occurrence of different spellings of the same word” in Robinson’s journals is important because these give some clue to those parts of the original sound which were but little apparent to Robinson. Such differences of spelling indicate not only different interpretations by Robinson of some speech sound, but also the variations in sound when the word was spoken by different individuals, of the same or different tribes.

Plomley also observed that as “Robinson became more familiar with the native language and mode of speaking, his phonetic interpretations would have become more exact” (Plomley 1966: 6).

As an amateur ethnographer, Robinson took every opportunity to collect information about the Indigenous peoples he met with, particularly on their political relationships, such as language and clan names, and linguistic information such as vocabulary. Professor Barry Blake’s analysis of Robinson’s collection of Aboriginal vocabularies from south-eastern Australia is that it

is perhaps the largest source of information on the languages of the area that we have, certainly it is the most varied. It covers practically every area of Victoria as well as some adjacent areas of South Australia and New South Wales. (Clark 2000b: 6)

Blake’s assessment of Robinson’s value from a linguistic perspective is as follows:

We can be thankful that Robinson was interested to record languages, but we regret that he confined his attention to vocabulary and did not extend his interest to grammar. Overall he was a reasonably good recorder of Aboriginal words by the standards of his day. His glosses seem to be accurate when compared with a variety of other sources, and his glosses for items of material culture such as spears, baskets, fish traps, etc. are often detailed and supported by illustrations. His ability to hear the sounds of words was reasonably good. … Robinson did not normally pick up dental t as opposed to alveolar t so he writes tal.line for thalayn ‘tongue’. Nor did he detect dental n or dental l, but then neither did anyone else in his day. With r-sounds, no nineteenth century observer distinguished the r-sound of English and a trilled or flapped r of the type found in Scottish English, and none of them picked up retroflex or r-coloured consonants consistently. … Robinson’s biggest deficiency was his inability to hear the ng sound at the beginning of a word. He usually omits it entirely. Occasionally he substitutes ‘n’. But despite these deficiencies Robinson’s corpus is extremely valuable. (Clark 2000b vol. 2: 6)

Besides vocabulary, Robinson recorded Indigenous toponymy, and his journals and papers provide some 300 Indigenous placenames and a further 280 clan names derived from placenames (see Clark 2005). In relation to hydronyms (toponyms of hydrographic features), Dawson observed:

It must be noticed that rivers have not the same name from their source to the sea. The majority of Australian streams cease to flow in summer, and are then reduced to a chain of pools or waterholes, all of which, with their intermediate fords, have distinguishing names. The river which connects these waterholes in winter has no name. Every river, however, which forms one continuous stream during both summer and winter has a name which is applied to its whole length. For example, Taylor’s River, or Mount Emu Creek, is called ‘Tarnpirr’, ‘flowing water’, from its source in Lake Burrumbeet to its junction with the Hopkins. At the same time, every local reach in these rivers has a distinguishing name. (Dawson 1881: lxxviii)

Robinson did not provide glosses for any of the 20 names he recorded. Nevertheless Dawson (1881) and Chauncy (in Smyth 1878) provided glosses for every name they provided. Nine glosses are provided by Barry Blake (2000), Luise Hercus (1999), Sharnthi Krishna-Pillay (1996), and the author.

Dawson and Tower Hill

Tower Hill is a basaltic maar volcano and is presumably named because its crater towers above the surrounding plain. Robinson learned on 28 April 1841 that the ‘small eminence’ was called by local Europeans ‘Tower Hill’. He also learned that a ‘native village’ was to be found there. The Tower Hill complex falls within one language area (Dhauwurdwurrung) (Dawson 1881; Clark 1990), and some 11 placenames have been uncovered for features as diverse as scrub, flats, craters, the crater’s lake, and lake banks (see Table 8.2) (Clark and Heydon 2002). All 11 names are sourced from the ethnography of James Dawson (1881). This ethnography is the result of extensive study of the Aboriginal languages of western Victoria conducted by James Dawson and his daughter, Isabella, from 1844. In March 1870 Isabella Dawson published a sketch in The Australasian of the dialect of the original inhabitants of the Port Fairy district (Dawson 1870). James Dawson explained in the preface to his 1881 publication that:

Some time afterwards our attention was directed to the formation of a vocabulary of dialects spoken by aboriginal natives of Australia, and a request was made that she ‘would assist in collecting and illustrating all connected with their history, habits, customs, and languages’. (Dawson 1881: iii)

In terms of placenames, Dawson observed:

It is deeply to be regretted that the opportunity for securing the native names of places has, in many districts, gone for ever. In most localities the aborigines are either dead or too young to have learned the names which their fathers gave to the various features of the country; and in those parts where a few old men are still to be met with, the white inhabitants, generally speaking, take no interest in the matter. With very few worthy exceptions, they have done nothing to ascertain and record even those names which appertain to their own properties. How much more interesting would have been the map of the colony of Victoria had this been attended to at an earlier period of its history. (Dawson 1881: lxxviii)

The work of the Dawsons has several strengths: they were able to question their Aboriginal informants in their own languages, and the vocabularies they compiled are extensive. They acknowledged the special assistance of Yaruun Parpur Tarneen and her husband Wombeet Tuulawarn “for their patience and their anxiety to communicate information” (Dawson 1881: v). Others who contributed include Weeratt Kuyutt and Kaawirn Kuunawarn. R. M. W. Dixon (Papers) describes Dawson’s work as perhaps the fullest and most sympathetic account of any tribe in southern Australia.

Stone and Lake Boga

Lake Boga falls within the country of the Wembawemba dialect (Hercus 1986, 1992; Clark 1990). There are 15 placenames that are found in the literature (Stone 1911; Clark and Heydon 2002): three variant names for Lake Boga and 12 microtoponyms (see Table 8.3). All of these placenames are derived from the writing of A. C. Stone (1911), with the exception of ‘Boga’ which is sourced from the journal of Major Thomas Mitchell. Mitchell’s expedition visited Lake Boga on 21 June 1836 and his account of their visit confirms that the lake was utilised by local clanspeople. At the lake they found

the huts of natives who had fled on Mr. Stapylton’s approach, having left their fishing spears, skin cloaks, shields, &c. They soon appeared on the lake in twenty-four canoes, all making for the little isle in the centre.

Hoping to “learn the native names of these lakes and to obtain some information respecting the rivers”, Mitchell left three of his Aboriginal guides – Piper and “the two Tommies” – at the lake. However, they were attacked by a party of a dozen armed men, and in self-defence Piper wounded one of the men and, as they retreated, he reloaded and killed the wounded man. Piper failed to learn any local toponymy and Mitchell expressed much displeasure at his actions. It was to fall to A. C. Stone, a baker at Lake Boga who had employed Wembawemba speakers in his bakery, some 50 years after Mitchell’s attempt, to record the names that Mitchell was desirous of learning in 1836. Stone reflected on the situation when he first resided at Boga:

When I took up my residence at Lake Boga, no mallee had either been cut or rolled down, and the Murray flats were but sparsely occupied, but I was immediately struck with the local evidences of a one-time large population of aboriginals, and I determined as far as it lay in my power to collect all the information I could first hand, as I was, unfortunately, forced to the conclusion that if it was not done then it would be impossible later on, in consequence of the ravages of the fell destroyer. (Stone 1911: 433)

Luise Hercus regards Stone’s work a “detailed and most important contribution”, “that gives us a certain time depth” and who because

of his special relationship with people at Lake Boga … was able to gather the kind of data on material culture and traditional matters that no casual observer could have noted, and he wrote down his findings with great care: his work is unique in Victoria. (Hercus 1992: 13-14)

Only the name for the lake itself has been recorded as having multiple names, and of these three names, Boga is likely to be an exogenous word conferred by Mitchell in 1836. Parker (1854) noted that Boga was not the ‘true native name’ for this lake, and confirmed that boge was a Wembawemba word meaning ‘to swim’. This is not supported, however, by Stone (1911) or Hercus (1986, 1992). Barry Blake (1984: 87) has posited that bogey or bogie meaning ‘to bathe oneself’ is a “Port Jackson word still in common use in Aboriginal English and in Australian Pidgin”. The two names provided by Stone appear to be an intralectal doublet with one placename transparent and the other opaque. Stone provides glosses for eight of the toponyms he recorded. In the case of six names, Stone was able to learn ‘the story’ of their origins, as follows:

Lake Boga Aboriginal Legend to Account for the Treeless State of Lake Boga, and the Mournful Wail of the Stone Plover:

At one time, long years ago, there was a very large redgum tree growing in the lake, and its branches supported a tremendously large nest, the property of an immensely large pair of wedge-tailed eagles (‘Nurrayil’). One fine day a young mother wandered carrying her baby, a long way round the lake, and far from the camp, when, feeling tired, she sat down and amusedly watched her baby playing in the warm sand, when suddenly, and without warning, the larger of the two eagles swooped down and, seizing the baby, carried it away over the water to its eyrie in the red gum tree. The poor mother, seeing her baby suddenly lost to her for ever, commenced a mournful wailing, which the curlews or stone plovers (‘Will’) in sympathy took up, and have continued ever since. The disconsolate young mother then hurried back to the camp and reported the occurrence, upon which the doctor or medicine-man (‘Barngnull’) directed that every person with a canoe was to proceed to the tree, and after cutting it down to tear it into little pieces, and to boat it all away to the river, where it was to be thrown upon the water to be carried away. The doctor then decreed that no more trees should grow in Lake Boga. The tree in falling hollowed out with its branches a big depression near the river, which they called ‘Geranyuk’ (where branches and leaves fell). The large gnarled lump on the tree trunk struck and hollowed out a big hole at the entrance to the lake, which they named ‘Wherpook’ (where butt fell). (Stone 1911: 461)1

‘Gourkk’, or Battle of Blood (Railway station site, Lake Boga):

Many years ago a very sharp bit of fighting took place on the site of the railway station at Lake Boga, between the Tyntynder and Boga tribes, and in consequence of the quantity of blood spilt it was called the ‘Battle of Blood’, or ‘Gourrk’. (Stone 1911: 462)

Kangaroo or Murdering Lake (‘Dinger’):

Many years ago a shepherd’s hut stood at ‘Wherpoo’ (where carbuncle on trunk of big redgum struck), the entrance to Lake Boga. One night the natives sought to obtain some cheap mutton by spearing, but the shepherds in charge became alarmed, and, as was the custom in those old days, used their firearms to such effect that ‘Nyarramin’s’ uncle (Peter) was mortally wounded, and died, and was buried at ‘Darnoowongatch’ (N.E. bank of Boga). The two shepherds were transferred to Kangaroo Lake… (Stone 1911: 464)


This paper has examined the evidence for microtoponymy in Victorian languages through conducting three case studies, each from distinct sources and from distinct time periods. George Robinson recorded placenames along the Hopkins River in 1841; James Dawson collected placenames of Tower Hill from the mid 1840s until the late 1870s; and A.C. Stone gathered placenames around Lake Boga, presumably from the early 1880s. All three recorders were able to speak the local languages and it is this ability that sets their work apart. In the cases of Dawson and Stone this study has shown that it was still possible to document something of the microtoponymy that characterises Aboriginal languages, many years after the first years of European settlement. In the case of Lake Boga it has been possible to learn something of the traditional stories that provide explanations for the origin of some of the names. Clark and Heydon (2002) recorded some 3400 Indigenous toponyms in Victoria, and the three cases presented in this paper are part of that database. In Victoria, clusters of microtoponyms have been found to be more commonly hydronyms, especially those relating to rivers, streams and lakes. The paper has shown that despite an incomplete data set, it is possible to reconstruct something of the detailed microtoponymy that characterised Aboriginal languages in Victoria.


Blake, Barry J. 1984, Australian Aboriginal Languages, Angus & Robertson, London.

— 2000, ‘Place Names Notes and Papers Relating to the Placenames Dictionary Project’, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, Melbourne.

Blake, Leslie B. J. 1977, Place Names of Victoria, Rigby Ltd, Adelaide.

Cannon, Michael (ed.) 1983, Historical Records of Victoria, Volume 2B: Aborigines and Protectors 1838-1839, Public Record Office, Melbourne.

Clark, Ian D. 1990, Aboriginal Languages and Clans: An Historical Atlas of Western and Central Victoria, 1800-1900, Monash Publications in Geography no. 37, Clayton.

— 2000a, The Journals of George Augustus Robinson, Chief Protector, Port Aboriginal Protectorate, vols 1-6 1839-1852, Heritage Matters, Clarendon, 2nd edition.

— 2000b, The Papers of George Augustus Robinson, Chief Protector, Port Phillip Aboriginal Protectorate, vol. 2. Aboriginal Vocabularies: South East Australia, 1839-1852, Heritage Matters, Clarendon.

— 2005, ‘The Journals and Papers of George Augustus Robinson, Chief Protector of Aborigines, Port Phillip District, 1839-1850: their value as a resource for place names research’, Victorian Historical Journal, vol. 76, no. 2: 165-179.

— and Toby G. Heydon, 2002, Database of Aboriginal Placenames of Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, Melbourne.

Dawson, Isabella P. 1870, ‘The language of the Aborigines’, letter to the editor of The Australasian, 19 March 1870: 360.

Dawson, James 1881, Australian Aborigines the Languages and Customs of Several Tribes of Aborigines in the Western District of Victoria, Australia, George Robertson, Melbourne.

Dixon, R. M. W., Working Files and Papers, in possession of R. M. W. Dixon, Melbourne.

Feldtmann, Arthur 1973, Swan Hill, Rigby, Melbourne.

Hercus, Luise A. 1986, Victorian Languages: A Late Survey, Pacific Linguistics, Canberra.

— 1992, Wembawemba Dictionary, self-published, Canberra.

— 1999, ‘Place Names Notes and Papers Relating to the Placenames Dictionary Project’, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, Melbourne.

Jones, Philip 2002, ‘Naming the Dead Heart: Hillier’s Map and Reuther’s Gazetteer of 2,468 Placenames in North-eastern South Australia’, in The Land is a Map: Placenames of Indigenous Origin in Australia, Luise Hercus, Flavia Hodges, and Jane Simpson (eds), Pandanus Books, Canberra: 187-200.

Krishna-Pillay, Sharnthi (ed.) 1996, Dictionary of Keerraywoorroong and Related Dialects, Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative, Warrnambool.

Mathews, R. H. 1904, ‘The Native Tribes of Victoria: their Languages and Customs’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, vol. 43, no. 175: 54-70.

McLeod, G. 1981, Allan’s Ford: Allansford 1855-1981, Committee of the Back to Allansford 125th Anniversary Celebrations, Allansford.

Mitchell, Thomas L. 1838, Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, T. & W. Boone, London.

Mulder, J. F. 1909, ‘Stone Implements of the Natives of Victoria, and their Age’, The Geelong Naturalist, Second Series, vol. 4, no. 1: 8-14.

Parker, Edward S. 1854, The Aborigines of Australia: a lecture delivered in the Mechanics’ Hall, Melbourne, McColl, Melbourne.

Plomley, N. J. B. 1956, ‘George Augustus Robinson and the Tasmanian Aborigines’, Tasmanian Historical Research Association Papers and Proceedings, vol. 5, no. 2: 23-37.

— 1966, Friendly Mission: The Tasmanian Journals and Papers of George Augustus Robinson 1829-1834, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, Hobart.

Presland, Gary 1989, ‘The Journals of George Augustus Robinson’, La Trobe Library Journal, vol. 11, no. 43, Koori History Sources for Aboriginal Studies in the State Library of Victoria: 9-12.

Rae-Ellis, Vivienne 1988, Black Robinson Protector of Aborigines, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Smyth, Robert B. 1878, The Aborigines of Victoria: With Notes Relating to the Habits of the Natives of Other Parts of Australia, 2 vols, Victorian Government Printer, Melbourne.

Stanner, William E. H. 1965, ‘Aboriginal Territorial Organisation: Estate, Range, Domain and Regime’, Oceania, vol. 36, no. 1: 1-26.

Stone, A. C. 1911, ‘The Aborigines of Lake Boga, Victoria’, Proceedings Royal Society of Victoria, vol. 33, pt. 2: 433-468.

Strehlow, T. G. H., 1970, ‘Geography and the Totemic Landscape in Central Australia: A Functional Study’, in Australian Anthropology: Modern Studies in the Social Anthropology of the Australian Aborigines, R. M. Berndt (ed.), University of Western Australia Press for the AIAS, Nedlands: 92-140.

Sutton, Peter 2003, Native Title in Australia: An Ethnographic Perspective, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Taylor, John C. 1976, ‘Mapping Techniques and the Reconstruction of Aspects of Traditional Aboriginal Culture’, AIAS Newsletter, no. 5: 34-43.

Tindale, Norman B. 1963, ‘Tribal Distribution and Population’, in Australian Aboriginal Studies, H. Shiels (ed.), Oxford University Press, Melbourne: 356-379.


  1. 1. According to Luise Hercus (pers. comm.), geranyuk means literally ‘its leaves’ and werpuk means ‘tree trunk’.

Appendix: Lists of placenames

Table 8.2: Tower Hill microtoponymy

Existing Placename

Traditional Aboriginal Name

Variant Spellings



Tower Hill


Kor.rite, Koroitch,


‘nettles’, ‘suggestive of volcanism’; ‘smoking, hot ground’;’ a small fish’; ‘forest kangaroo’; clan name Koroit gundidj

Robinson Jnl 24 Mar. 1842, 6 Apr. 1842 in Clark 2000a; Lane in Smyth 1878: 186; Dawson 1881: lxxx; Dawson 19 Apr. 1870; Mulder 1909: 11

Tower Hill – scrub between Tower Hill Flat and lake




Dawson 1881: lxxxi

Tower Hill Flat – scrub on west side




Dawson 1881: lxxxiv

Tower Hill Flat – west side

Taeraa mukkar

Taeraa mukkar

‘sweet root like a parsnip’

Dawson 1881: lxxxii

Tower Hill Island

Parrang kuutcha

Parrang kuutcha

‘name of an edible root found there’

Dawson 1881: lxxxi

Tower Hill Island – crater

Yatt Mirng

Yatt mirng

‘white eye’; ‘wide open’, ‘hole in the ground’, ‘eye’

Dawson 1881: lxxxiv; Hercus 1999

Tower Hill Lake

Kurruk baruum

Kurruk barruum, Kuuro baruum

‘grandmother of lice’, ‘grandmother louse’

Dawson 1881: lxxx;

Blake 2000

Tower Hill Lake


Mirch hiil

‘mitj’ = ‘skin’

Dawson 1881: lxxx1; Blake 2000

Tower Hill Lake –west bank



‘a small fish’, ‘nettles’

Dawson 1881: lxxx; Lane in Smyth 1878: 186

Tower Hill Lake – East bank

Mum ngamat

Muum gnamatt, Mum ngamat

‘bottom of the sea’, ‘sea-bottom’

Dawson 1881: lxxxi; Hercus 1999; Blake 2000

Tower Hill Lake – outlet

Kuuro baruum

Kuuro baruum

‘grandmother of lice’

Dawson 1881: lxxx; Blake 2000

Table 8.3: Lake Boga microtoponyms

Existing Placename

Traditional Aboriginal Name

Variant Spellings



Lake Boga


Boga, Boge

‘to swim’, ‘big’; ‘after Bogan tribe of Aborigines’

Mitchell 21 Jun. 1836; Parker 1854: 13; Feldtmann 1973: 154; Blake 1977: 150

Lake Boga




Stone 1911: 435; Hercus 1992: 97

Lake Boga


Gourrm, Goorm, Korm, Coorm, Kooem, Koorm

‘milk’, ‘breast of woman’, ‘water of lake is white from clay base’; local clan named ‘Kurrmtyanyuk’

Robinson in Clark 1990: 409; Parker 1854; Gummow in Smyth 1878: 176; Stone 1911; Hercus 1986, 1992

Lake Boga, N.E. bank



Uncertain; where Peter is buried

Stone 1911: 464

Lake Boga, Railway station site



‘blood’, ‘because of an ancient battle’, ‘battle of blood’, where Boga and Tyntynder tribes fought

Stone 1911: 435, 462; Hercus 1992

Boga, Lake entrance




‘Where butt of gum fell’, ‘where butt fell’, ‘where carbuncle on trunk of big redgum struck’

Stone 1911: 435, 461, 464; Hercus 1992: 97

Boga – Stewart’s

Thanultarwinang – puletj

Tdunooldarwin nung boolutch

‘leaning trees’

Stone 1911: 436; Hercus 1992: 54

Boga – Pepper’s



‘willow trees’

Stone 1911: 436

Boga – Long Lake Hill




Stone 1911: 436; Hercus 1992

Boga – Davie’s Swamp



‘when leaves and branches fell’, ‘where branches and leaves fell’

Stone 1911: 435, 461; Hercus 1992: 97

Boga – Davie’s Hill



‘deepest basin of lake’

Stone 1911: 436; Hercus 1992

Boga – Cornish’s Hill (Road)




Stone 1911: 435

Boga – Cornish’s Hill (bank of lake)



‘steep bank’

Stone 1911: 435

Boga – A.C. Stone’s



‘mile= Murray River’?

Stone 1911; Hercus 1986: 188, 1992: 69

Boga – Fish Point




Stone 1911: 436; Hercus 1992: 59

Table 8.1: Hopkins River microtoponymy

Existing placename

Traditional Aboriginal name

Variant spellings



Hopkins River, waterhole at Burrumbeep, or upper reaches of river


Tonedinejerer, Tone.dine.jer.rer,

Uncertain; clan name Tonedidjerer baluk

Robinson Jnl 10 Jul. 1841 in Clark 2000a; see Clark 1990: 132

Hopkins River, at Burrumbeep, Kirk’s station


Bor.rime.yel.lo, Bur.rime.yel.lo

‘night moon’

Robinson Jnl 13 Jul. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Robinson in Clark 2000: 125; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – at Gibbs’ station

Lappeet, Lap.peet


Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – locality




Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – locality



Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – locality


Por.ry, Burrah, bura

‘kangaroo’, ‘red kangaroo’

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Scott in Smyth 1878: 181; Hercus 1999

Hopkins River – locality near Webster’s station

Yeddy, Yereim



Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – Salt Creek junction

Baller baller cort

Bal.ler.bal.ler.cole, Buller buller cate, Bul.ler.bul.ler.coort

Uncertain; clan name Baller baller cort gundidj

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Clark 1990: 113

Hopkins River – locality

Lapeeyt parreeyt, Lapeeyt parreeyt

‘salt water’

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – locality



Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – locality


wurru = lips

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – locality (where Robinson saw a weir before reaching Farie’s station)



Possibly, ‘thread made of fur’, or ‘cord made of bark or hair’

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Scott in Smyth 1878: 184; Krishna-Pillay 1996: 210

Hopkins River – locality at Farie’s station



Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – locality



Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – locality



worn may = wurn = hut

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – locality


Allo.pan, Al.lo.burng, Allo-bank


Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841, 23 Mar. 1842 in Clark 2000a; Dawson 19 Mar. 1870

Hopkins River - locality


Mo.por.rer, Moperer, Mopohr

Uncertain; clan name Moporh gundidj

Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Clark 1990: 54-55; Hercus 1999

Hopkins River – locality



Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – waterhole near Framlingham Aboriginal station

Poonong poonong

Puunong puunong, Puunong, Puunuung, Bunung, Buno, Kurang


Dawson 1881; Mathews 1904; Hercus 1999; Blake 2000

Hopkins Falls

Tangang punhart

Tung’ung buunart

‘eels bite the stones’

Dawson 1881: lxxxii

Hopkins River – tidal estuary


Tuuram, Torramnue, Tooram

‘salmon’; ‘good fishing place’; clan name Tuuram gundidj

Dawson 1881: lxxxii, McLeod 1981: 10; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – lower reaches


Barng, Bangat, Parng


Robinson in Clark 2000b: 274 sketch; Chauncy in Smyth 1878: 212; Hercus 1999

Hopkins River – lower reaches


Pukrruhng, Poorrang, Pookara


Lane in Smyth 1878: 187; Blake 2000

Hopkins River – mouth, near Point Ritchie




Robinson Jnl 28 Apr. 1841 in Clark 2000a

Hopkins River – mouth



‘mouth of river’

Dawson 1881: lxxxiii

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