Australian place names

This section covers:

See also General principles for place names.

Australian conventions and resources

A good resource for formal Australian place names is the Place Names search of the Gazetteer of Australia, which is available on the Geoscience Australia website. The gazetteer is a compilation of data from state, territory and Australian Government agencies. It is produced by the Committee for Geographical Names of Australasia, which coordinates place-naming activities across Australia and New Zealand.

The National Geographic Information Group at Geoscience Australia is the Australian Government’s national mapping agency.

The Institute of Australian Geographers is the professional body representing Australian geographers and provides links to geographical information.

Informal and local names

Popular names of places sometimes have initial capitals:

Top End [northern part of the Northern Territory]     the Red Centre

but not always:

central Australia     the outback     the mallee region

Unofficial names usually have initial capitals:

Sapphire Coast     Gascoyne Coast     Gold Coast     Channel Country [in South Australia, near Lake Eyre]

Use lower case for names of regions that include compass directions:

southern Australia     northern Australia     far north Queensland     east coast of Australia

Use lower case for generic terms such as central business district. When greater is used with the name of a city to indicate a large area associated with the city, use an initial capital:

Greater Sydney

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Seas and oceans

Use initial capitals for formal names of seas, oceans and ocean currents:

Southern Ocean     Indian Ocean     southeast Indian Ocean     Pacific Ocean     South Pacific Ocean     North Pacific Ocean     eastern Pacific Ocean     western Pacific

East Australian Current     Antarctic Circumpolar Current     Leeuwin Current     the current     a warm current

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Parks, forests and reserves

Use initial capitals for full names of parks, forests and reserves, but not when the term is used generically:

Bungle Bungle National Park     Kalbarri National Park     Bungle Bungle and Kalbarri national parks     
the national parks of Western Australia

Styx River State Forest     Trowutta Caves State Reserve      

Reminder. Initial capitals are used only for formal names. Informal and collective (plural) references to the same item do not need capitals.

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State and territory abbreviations

Abbreviate the names of the states and territories of Australia as follows:

Australian Capital Territory – ACT

New South Wales – NSW

Northern Territory – NT

Queensland – Qld

South Australia – SA

Tasmania – Tas

Victoria – Vic

Western Australia – WA

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