Australian Baby Names: Digging Up Names From Down Under

Even though Australian baby names are a lot like British names, they do also have their own distinctive flavor.  The blend of cultures Down Under and the strong presence of several enduring indigenous languages and groups have a powerful influence on Australian baby names (the complex Aboriginal naming traditions definitely deserve a future blog of their own).  Last year, for example, though Australia’s most popular list included Jack and Ella, Joshua, Ethan, Emily, Chloe and Mia, also high up on their list were Matilda, Isla, Lachlan (the name of Oz newspaper mogol Rupert Murdoch’s high-profile son), the Scottish-influenced Angus, and the nickname-name Archie.

Aussie heroes–from outlaws like Ned Kelly to poets like Banjo Paterson to politicians such as Prime Minister Geogh Whitlam–provide some interesting and adoptable namesakes.

Here are some from the world of sports:

EVONNE Goolagong
KARRIE Webb
KEL Nagle
KIEREN Perkins
LIESEL Jones
LIONEL Rose
LLEYTON Hewitt
LUC Longley

And nameworthy names from the show biz arena:

ANGUS Young
BON Scott
BAZ Luhrmann
CATE Blanchett
ELLE Macpherson
GUY Pearce
HEATH Ledger
HUGH Jackman
ISLA Fisher
JACINDA Barrett
KAHAHL
KYLIE Minogue
LOUISA Brammall
NAOMI Watts
NATALIE Imbroglia
NELLIE Melba
NICOLE Kidman
OLIVIA Newton-John
PORTIA De Rossi
ROLF Harris
RUSSELL Crowe
TONI Collette

And what names do these Aussie celebs choose for their own their kids? Austarbabies include:

ADELAIDERachel Griffiths
ALEXANDERNaomi Watts
ANGELICAGeoffrey Rush
AVAHugh Jackman
BANJORachel Griffiths
BINDI — Steve Irwin
CHARLOTTEJudy Davis
CHLOEOlivia Newton-John
CHRISTIANMel Gibson
DASHIELLCate Blanchett
FLYNNElle Macpherson
IGNATIUSCate Blanchett
KLAUSEric Bana
LILLIANBaz Luhrmann
LOUISMel Gibson
MATILDABryan Brown, Heath Ledger
MILOMel Gibson
OLIVEIsla Fisher
OSCARHugh Jackman
ROMANCate Blanchett
ROSIEBryan Brown
SAGEToni Collette
SAMUELNaomi Watts
SATINEJacinda Barrett
SOPHIAEric Bana
SUNDAYNicole Kidman
TENNYSONRussell Crowe

And there’s a whole lot more to Australian place names than South Australia capital city Adelaide. Here’s a selection:

ALBANY
ALLORA
ARARAT
AUGUSTA
BENALLA
BENDIGO
BOTANY
BURNIE
DARWIN
ELANORA
ESPERANCE
GALLAH
GRAFTON
GRIFFITH
HOBART
ISA
JANNALI
KALLI
KARRATHA
KILLARA
LINCOLN
LOGAN
MACKAY
MACQUARIE
MAITLAND
MILDURA
ORANGE
PERTH
RYDE
VICTORIA

We’d like to thank and acknowledge the imput of our Australian correspondent Alicia Polman, who alerted us to some interesting names and their backstories, and to the fact that “there’s more to Australian-esque baby names than Matilda and Jack.”

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17 Responses to “Australian Baby Names: Digging Up Names From Down Under”

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Lola Says:

February 23rd, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I’m a sucker for Shakesperean Portia, but did you know Portia de Rossi was born Amanda Lee Rogers? Sort of spoils Portia on her, for me! And I have to ask, what is the proper way to say the double L of Lleyton? There are a good handful of these: Lionel, Angus, Baz, Hugh, Louisa, Dashiell, Ignatius, Lillian, Louis & Matilda. But I’m just not that fond of place names, no matter where they originate from.

Great post, though! It’s always great to see naming trends & infuluences from other places (I’m a Yank, for the record).

linda Says:

February 23rd, 2009 at 2:32 pm

They’re all pronounced as if there were a single L–as in Lloyd, Llewelyn, etc. I actually know a guy named Llonald.

Lola Says:

February 23rd, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Thanks, Linda! I know the actual Welsh pronunciation is different but wondered if the Aussies were more like us Yanks, now I know! 😀 Llonald? how cool.

bethie Says:

February 24th, 2009 at 12:08 am

a little off topic linda and pam however…
how do you feel about the name teddy for a girl?

im stuck in the middle.

Jill Says:

February 24th, 2009 at 2:57 am

Bethie, If you follow the link to “Name Talk,” you can post this question in the correct forum. People will post suggestions and opinions. 🙂

Davena Says:

February 24th, 2009 at 7:51 am

I think there is a typo up there, it’s KAMAHL. rather than KAHAHL (http://www.kamahl.com/) …. oh why are people so unkind? *chuckle*

I love Sage and Flynn and Matilda (and I love Tilly as a nn) and Sunday was shortlisted as a mn for my son, 11yrs ago.

Julia Says:

February 25th, 2009 at 8:55 am

Why was Murray not on the list of Australian place names?
Also some suggestions from South Australia (Adelaide asides):
– Clare
– Victor
– Elliot
– Norman (after Normanville)
– Mary (St Mary’s Peak)
And a heartfelt plea to all: Please, please, do not name your kid after Port Augusta. Although Augusta is a gorgeous name, “porta gutta” is not a very nice namesake.

Cait Says:

March 12th, 2009 at 2:57 pm

Also Victoria is the state in Australia in which Melbourne is located…

Boston Girl Says:

June 25th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I have a couple of Aussie pen pals, one of whom is named Merrin. That sounds like a fun and unusual Aussie-flavored choice to me…

From the list I like Karrie, Liesel, Jacinda, Kylie, Louisa, Natalie, Rolf, Toni, Christian, Flynn, Roman, Allora, Jannali, Kalli, Karratha, Macquarie and Victoria (for which I like the not-so-common nn Toria).

Bellasmae Says:

August 10th, 2009 at 6:53 am

Distinct “Aussie” names for me will always be Bruce, Narelle, Sheila, Darrell, Kylie, Valmay etc..

Very Ocker. Perhaps very bogan like now.

It’s funny that Lachlan is so high and yet rarely gets used in Scotland. They say it quite differently too I hear.

Emma Blake Says:

August 29th, 2009 at 2:04 am

I agree, if you take out the recent decade or 2 of outer influences, it was very easy to have 2 Bruce’s, Barry’s, Peter’s, Ross’s, Allan’s or Darrel’s in the family somewhere. I had a few Lyn’s, Valmay’s, Esme’s and Christine’s in mine. The original Aussie names are Ocker, but ring true due to their friendly use of vowels.
I appreciate the robust, no fuss or trinket nature of the last centuries iconic names. Although societies trends will tell you that their time is up and we have made way for names no historic value what so ever. Prehaps it is more important to be unique than respectful of the english language which now has an ‘anything goes’ policy.
If unique means my child will not be able to say their name the way it is spelled, than give me Ocker/bogan anyday.
My ‘boring children ‘Tara and Lola’ will have to make do. hehe

Jessica Says:

January 2nd, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Other Australian place names include:
Alice- Alice springs, a large city in the Nothern Territory
Katherine- Another large city in te Nothern Territory
Kimberly- A Aboriginal Territory

ChristyHeather Says:

March 6th, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I love the name Narelle – it can be shortened to Nellie and outside of Australia it is hardly known. If I have another daughter Narelle is definately an option. Also possibly Narella.

I don’t think that the names of our culture are necessarily bogan – I have met many a bogan with a distinctively different name, and especially the younger generation who favour as many possible uses of the letters ‘K’ and ‘Y’ and combinations of ‘….ilee’ or ‘…acee’ as possible.

Cicely Says:

June 6th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Liesel is the more conventional spelling, but Ms Jones the swimmer spells her name Leisel Jones.

ebenezer.scrouge Says:

February 25th, 2012 at 8:59 pm

I was surprised to see Albany and Esperance on the list as they are smaller cities in WA

lurastudio.com Says:

May 3rd, 2013 at 8:30 am

lurastudio.com…

Australian Baby Names: Digging Up Names From Down Under – Nameberry – Baby Name BlogBaby Name Blog – Nameberry…

Wonder_Child Says:

July 20th, 2013 at 11:14 pm

Great List! As an Australian I found this very amusing and thought I’d compile a little list of my own just for peoples general interest…

-Names that are considered bogan or are just really unfashionable from over use in Australia: Bruce, Shelia, Kylie, Jason, Bevan, Sharon, Alan, Darrel, Shane, Craig, all variations of Kathy/Katherine, Leslie, Brody, Barry, and any name that can give you the nickname “Bazza”.

You won’t be hearing any of these names on a new baby anytime soon. Rule of thumb if your moving to Australia and don’t now what names will be unfashionable: Look up the character lists from Neighbors and Home & Away and don’t name your kid any of those things 😀

Also I was LMFAO at the place names list, DO NOT name your child Ararat or Bendigo, trust me these are not places you want to name someone after hahaha

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