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Australian Names: 12 of the best

Acacia to Taj

By Clare Green

There are lots of reasons to consider Australian names. Maybe you live in Australia, have heritage there, or have happy memories of visiting. Or perhaps you’re in search of an unusual baby name that you’re not likely to hear much north of the equator.

But hang on, what are Australian names? Many current favorites in Australia are popular all over the world. Oliver and Charlotte topped the charts in 2017*, followed closely by names like Ava and Olivia, Noah and James. Sometimes, Aussie parents are trendsetters: Archer, Jasper, Eloise and Harlow are in the Top 100, while they’re still on their way up in the US.

Beyond that, there are names that are uniquely Australian, or used much more there, or closely tied to the people, places and nature of the country. Here are twelve awesome Australian names that we think deserve to be better known  in the rest of the world.

12 GREAT AUSTRALIAN NAMES

Acacia
Below the Top 100 in Australia, 2128 in the US

Looking for an unusual nature name? Fire-resistant acacia plants are found all over Australia, and acacia pycnantha, or the golden wattle, is the national flower, with sweet-smelling yellow blossoms that flower in spring. Although it’s not at the top of the charts, it’s certainly used as a girl name in Australia. Other botanical options include Mimosa, Correa, Dianella, and Azalea (as in the Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea).

Billie
#57 in Australia, 1806 in the US

Australians have a reputation for shortening everything, so we had to have a nickname on this list. Breezy Billie was popular in the 1920s and 30s but now hovers below the radar in the States. If you think it needs a longer form, it could be short for a huge range of names, from Elizabeth to Brinley. Other standalone nicknames in Australia’s Top 100 include Ali, Nate, and Sonny for boys, and Charlie and Frankie for girls.

Cairns
Below the Top 100 in Australia, does not chart in the US

Ready for a wildcard place name? Cairns is a tropical city in north-east Australia, a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and popular with water sports fans. It’s named after William Wellington Cairns, a governor of Queensland. Although it’s rarely (if ever) used for children, it fits with stylish ends-in-s surnames like Hayes and Wells. And it makes a more unexpected Aussie place name than Adelaide, Darwin or Sydney.

Darcy
#60 in Australia (boys), 6363 in the US (13 boys), 1278 for girls.

To Americans, Darcy was a staple girls’ name of the 1960s and 70s. In Britain, there are three different spellings in the girls’ Top 100. But in Australia, Darcy leans male, thanks to the legacy of renowned boxer Les Darcy, followed by other famous figures like prison escape artist Darcy Dugan and author D’Arcy Niland. Like Bailey and Kennedy, this is a surname that would sound fresh if reclaimed for the boys.

Delta
Below the Top 100 in Australia, 2624 in the US

This modern-sounding ancient name isn’t exclusively Australian – think Delta Burke and the song Delta Dawn – but it does have a famous wearer in the Aussie singer Delta Goodrem. It might appeal as a nature name, or as a symbol in math and science, or as a way to honor a D name, or for a fourth child. It’s seen a little  more use in the US since Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard named their daughter Delta in 2014.

Flynn
#54 in Australia, 756 in the US

Australia called it first! Flynn has been in the Top 100 down under since 2001, perhaps because of a resurgence of interest in Aussie-born actor Errol Flynn. The 2010 film Tangled no doubt helped, plus Miranda Kerr used it for her son with Orlando Bloom at the peak of its popularity the following year. In America, Flynn has had its ups and downs, but it feels like a great lesser-used alternative to Finn. Colleen Ballinger named her son Flynn in 2018, which may give it a boost.

Kirrily
Below the Top 100 in Australia, does not chart in the US

This jaunty name is almost unique to Australia, and a bit of a mystery. It may come from Kirra, a word in several Aboriginal languages and a beach in Queensland…or not. Whatever its origin, it’s easy to see how it fits in with names like Keira, Kayley and Kailani. Dimity, a fabric name, has a similar lilting sound and is also almost exclusively Australian.

Lachlan
#17 in Australia, 695 in the US

This name was kickstarted by Lachlan Macquarie, the last colonial governor of New South Wales who was important in shaping the independent nation. 200 years later, his name remains an enduring favorite, and it’s also in New Zealand’s Top 20. In the rest of the English-speaking world, it’s a less discovered alternative to names like Nolan and Declan. Other names with a Scottish/Irish flavor in Australia’s Top 100 include Angus, Archie, Hamish and Patrick.

Matilda
#21 in Australia, 521 in the US

Not only is “Waltzing Matilda” Australia’s most famous song (“matilda” is slang for a bundle of belongings), but Matilda really is a superstar name in Australia today, making the Top 10 in several states. It’s also big in the UK and New Zealand, but American parents haven’t fully fallen back in love with this historic name yet. Strong medieval queens, the Roald Dahl character…what more will it take?

Opal
Below the Top 100 in Australia, 859 in the US

Australia’s national gemstone, shining with all the colors of the rainbow, has given its name to everything from the national basketball team to Sydney’s public transport card. And babies? Opal is rare (used only once in South Australia in 2018), but it’s a vintage jewel name that has comeback potential all over the world, like Pearl and Ruby. It leapt back into the US Top 1000 in 2017.

Taj
Below the Top 100 in Australia, 272 in South Australia, 1176 in the US

Taj is of Indian origin, but has made a particular splash in Australia, helped by figures like surfer Taj Burrow and a character in the soap opera Neighbours. Like Jax and Kai, it may appeal if you’re looking for a name that’s short, unfussy and laid-back.

Talia
Below the Top 100 in Australia, 312 in the US

This international name has one of its many roots in Australia. Talia is a town in South Australia, said to mean “near water” in a local Aboriginal language. The spelling Tahlia is more uniquely Aussie and has been even more popular there recently, still #115 in South Australia. Time to pass the Talia baton to the rest of the world?

*Note: The Australian statistics here come from the McCrindle report 2017, which lists the national Top 100, with backup from South Australia’s 2018 data, which show every baby name used. Some of the information below comes from the blog Waltzing More Than Matilda, which is sleeping but still a wonderful source for all things Australian names.

Which Australian names do you like best?

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4 Responses to “Australian Names: 12 of the best”

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northernlights Says:

April 9th, 2019 at 3:54 pm

As an American living in Australia I find this list fascinating! Particularly Darcy – I know 3 littles named Darcy at our small childcare centre (two boys and a girl). I never would have expected to see it so low on the US list! Lachlan, Matilda, and Flynn are all so similar to other stylish names that I’m surprised they’re sitting low on the US charts too. Definitely ready for a popularity surge!

Merryweather Says:

April 9th, 2019 at 10:44 pm

Matilda is my favorite.

tabitha Says:

April 10th, 2019 at 7:14 am

My not-so secret wish for this royal baby’s name if a girl: Matilda. It’s got royal pedigree, yet it’s modern, fresh and strong sounding (I think it’s the firm T followed by the D), a fantastic feminist meaning – “battle mighty”, nickname options galore (Mati, Tillie, Tilda) and a nod to lil’ old Australia – which the Royals seem to have a soft spot for.

Kirrily could be a misspelling of the word “Kirli” which means boomerang in some Aboriginal languages. Also because a lot of the languages were traditionally only spoken, the written spelling can vary a lot!

Another couple of under the radar Aussie options:

Marlee – Word for native black swan in Noongar Aboriginal language

Jarrah – type of eucalyptus tree, unisex

Banjo – after Banjo Patterson, famous Australian poet

Clancy – after one of the above’s most famous poems, “Clancy of the Overflow”.

Thanks for featuring Oz, from this Aussie girl!

notcinnamon Says:

April 11th, 2019 at 11:44 am

I would add Tayla.

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