Tuesday, 27 December 2011

What's in a Name

Ages ago, I mentioned a poem by AD Hope that featured Australian place names. Now I've discovered another, on a similar theme, this time by John Manifold:

The Map

Devil take our city-minded, imitative gran'dads who
Saddled us with Warwick, Ipswich, Bloomsbury, (near Yalbaroo),
Surbiton on Belyando - names like these will never do!

Mount Mistake, The Risk, The Blunder, Wilson's Downfall make a change,
But the names I like are those that show a sense of somewhere strange -
One Tree Hill and Wild Horse Mountain, Razorback and Nightcap Range -

And at sundown, when the hills are monstrous and the bunyip stirs,
I am pretty sure the native names are what the land prefers:
Murderer's Flat was our invention, but Eurunderee was hers.

Jundah, Thunda, Nocatunga, Thargomindah, Gunnewin,
Tarrewinnabar, Canungra, Tabragalba, Coolwinpin,
Ulandilla by the Maranoa where the songs begin.

Binna Burra, Bindebango, Mullumbimby - these belong! -
Bunya, Quinalow, Nanango, Tallebudgera, Durong
Xylophones among the timber,
   Bellbirds in the border mountains,
        Wallangarra, Woodenbong.


  1. I agree, Smiler. I think, if you read about Manifold, it becomes clear that he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his own 'grandads' and wanted to repudiate the background from which he came. It would be sad if the whole country had to follow suit.

  2. John Manifold's poem evokes beautiful, magical places, like Jundah a small settlement in the midst of outback plain south of Longreah, and Wodenbong a mist shrouded village dropped into the rain forested Border Ranges of Queensland and New South Wales, Wallangarra another border town, on the Granite belt before Girraween where the 4'8 1/2" railways of New South Wales met the 3' 6" lines of QLD. An experience of these places adds a magic value to this fine poem.

  3. Happy New Year, Mr Shera, those were lovely photographs of Christmas Eve