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Aussie place names obviously invented in the days before tourism

Thursday 22nd December 2011

Australia is full of amazing backpacker destinations. Everyone has heard of Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, but what about these oddly named little gems? Surely worth a trip during your Australian working holiday just to have your photo taken in front of the signpost!

• Lake Disappointment  

Named due to the feelings evoked by the explorer Frank Hann in 1897, when he followed creeks flowing inland, expecting to find a glorious freshwater lake in this otherwise sparse region of Western Australia on the northern side of the Little Sandy Desert, only to discover an "ephemeral" salt lake, which is a lake that for most of the time is bone dry. Frankly, Frank was disappointed, hence the name (Disappointment, not Frank), 

• Disaster Bay

Wonboyn, New South Wales. Can't find out much about which disaster the name refers to, but it probably involved any number of shipwrecks caused by the strong seas in the area. At least 8 wreck sites have been identified by divers in and around the bay, dating from the 1800's.

• Deception Bay

This town is just north of Brisbane, in Queensland. It was called Deception Bay by the man who discovered it in 1823, John Oxley. He initially thought the shallow bay was a river, when he realised his mistake he called it Deception Bay.

• Denial Bay

Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. This remote small town got its name when Matthew Flinders, the great Australian navigator and cartographer, tried and failed to use the location as a route inland. As well as oysters and crabs, the town is known for having the "dog fence", the world's longest fence (5600 KM) which was built to keep the dingoes out of Southern Australia in the 1880's.

• Useless Loop

Located in Shark Bay, Western Australia, Useless Loop got part of its name from another explorer, this time the French Henri-Louis de Saulces de Freycinet, who decided the harbour was useless as it was blocked by a sandbar. Useless Loop is part of the Shark Bay World Heritage Site, and while the town itself may not be top of your "Must see" backpacker travel list, the area is definitely worth a trip if you are interested in wildlife, conservation and unique landscapes.

• Shark Bay Shark Bay Beach Australia

This one is fairly obvious, and follows the line of Australian "call it what it is" placenames, which include "The Great Sandy Desert" and "The Little Sandy Desert". Unlike Shark Island, in Sydney Harbour, which is so-called because of its shark-like shape, Shark Bay was named by the English explorer William Dampier way back in 1699, although he wrote in his diary about his men eating the sharks, rather than the other way round. Shark Bay is an important world heritage area, and includes the aforementioned Useless Loop, and the much more well known Monkey Mia, where you can swim with dolphins during your gap year trip.

Do you have any great Australian placenemes that you would add to this list? Where is your top Australian gap year destination? Email us at info@gapwork.com, or contact us through Facebook or Twitter with your suggestions!