06/01/2015 When we got into inland New South Wales, I commented to Di about how strange the placenames were compared to those we were used to in Queensland – placenames such as Jerilderie, Narrandera, Cootamundra, Gilgandra, Mongogarie and many others with similar endings of -dra, -drie, -dgery, or -bri, all probably of Indigenous origin. When we pulled into Mallanganee, the local shopkeeper complemented me that I was the first blow-in he’d come across in quite a while who could pronounce the name of the town correctly.
We’re now finding similar placename tongue twisters in Victoria – like Yackandandah, Tangambalanga, Carraragarmungee, Noorongong, and Porepunkah, to name but a few.
As with many other visitors new to the area, while we drive along we try to get our tongues around the topsy-turvy syllables of the next placename and, more importantly, what we assume is the correct pronunciation of it. We mumble it over and over until we feel we’ve gotten it right, only to be later corrected by some sixteen year old shop assistant with a look like we’ve got two heads. “No, it’s pronounced Dang-dong-gadale”.
Then, after all that effort of trying to get the name right, we often find that the locals just shorten it anyway, because even they must want to save all that unnecessary time and effort – Yackandandah is shortened to Yack, Dandongadale to Dang, and so forth. Ian and Leslie kept referring one time to Wondy, and I had to ask them where Wondy was as I couldn’t locate it on the map. Turned out they were referring to Wandiligong just down the road from Bright…
By the time we’ve finished our travels and “been everywhere, Man”, we could perhaps write a song about all those strange placenames we’ve come across along the way. No, wait…that’s already been done!