Tourism Australia To Adopt Dual Place Names for Major Cities and Tourist Hotspots 

Soon, Tourism Australia will be inviting overseas visitors to Narrm and Warrane - or as they are more widely known as Melbourne and Sydney. In a new initiative for Tourism Australia’s recently launched 'Don't Go Small, Go Australia' global campaign, they are adopting a dual-naming approach for major cities, tourism hotspots and other specific locations by using the Indigenous place names alongside the English names (Traveller, 2022).

Dual-naming map of Australia with Indigenous place names alongside their English place names. Dual-naming map of Australia with Indigenous place names alongside their English place names. Courtesy of Tourism Australia, 2022.

At Tourism Australia's annual industry event in early March, the managing director Phillipa Harrison explained how this government agency will be presenting the key capital cities and locations to prospective tourists (Traveller, 2022).

"We will be dual-naming our cities and other select locations, using the current term alongside the traditional Aboriginal name," Harrison said.

Tourism Australia consulted and worked with the local Elders and Traditional Owners of each capital city and specific location to ensure that the Indigenous place names were correct. During these consultations, an Australian map showing the dual-names for each place was created. However, the map is not intended to include the dual-name for all cities and locations across the nation (Tourism Australia, 2022).

“We understand the name doesn’t always incorporate the whole geographical footprint of the location, it may be only a small central location and there are other names that relate to other parts of the location,” Harrison pointed out.

Through Tourism Australia’s social media channels, you can already see the renaming initiative being rolled out. For example, in the caption of their Instagram post below, they acknowledge the traditional place names K'gari (Fraser Island) and Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie), as well as the traditional owners - the Butchella people:



Over the last few years, Australia has seen an increase in the adoption of dual place names at national parks, islands and tourist hotspots across the country. For example, in December 2021, following consultations with the Gulaga and Biamanga Joint Management Boards, the NSW Government and Geographical Names Board officially assigned four sites on the NSW far south coast the dual names of “Gulaga for Mount Dromedary, Biamanga for Mumbulla Mountain, Barunguba for Montague Island and Najanuka for Little Dromedary Mountain” (NSW Government, 2022). 

On September 19th 2021, Queensland’s hot tourist destination Fraser Island also underwent a name change to its Indigenous place name K’gari (pronounced “gurri”), following several years of campaigning by the traditional owners, the Butchulla people (NIT, 2021).

While there are obvious cultural benefits for First Nations peoples and tourist vendors when bringing dual naming to the mainstream, Harrison pointed out that there are also significant economic incentives.

"Our research across our key markets is telling us that the more we tell our Indigenous story and bring it to life, the more interest there is,"
"We need to educate people that [Indigenous culture is] not just desert, dot painting and weaving – it can be adventure, food and urban experiences – integrated into any itinerary and accessible anywhere in Australia."


As we can see, Tourism Australia’s renaming initiative is not only acknowledging the traditional owners of the land in which we live, work and travel on, but is also seeking to incorporate 60,000 years of Indigenous language, custodianship and knowledge into mainstream tourism (Tourism Australia, 2022).

If you would like to read more about Indigenous place names and dual names, check out our previous posts:

Nangun wruk - First Languages Australia's National Place Names Project

The Iconic History of Uluru’s Traditional Land and Place Name Repatriation