Watanobbi voted Australia’s “most unfortunate” place-name, in a poll for findmypast.com.au
It beats Nowhere Else, Eggs and Bacon Bay, Bong Bong, Burpengary and Waa Waa
… But no prizes for Burrumbuttock, Wonglepong or Humpty Doo
Oh no! Grandpa was from Watanobbi; Grandma was a Bong Bong gal
New South Wales named “top state” for unfortunate place-names, edging Tasmania
Watanobbi in New South Wales has been voted Australia’s “most unfortunate” place-name, in a global poll.
It beat rivals including Eggs and Bacon Bay (Tasmania) Bong Bong (New South Wales) and Burpengary (Queensland), in a poll of almost 2,000 people conducted by the genealogy website, findmypast.com.au and its global network of partner sites.
“In the course of researching their family history, people can discover that their ancestors came from somewhere with an unlikely, unfortunate or downright embarrassing name”, explains Emma Kelly, family historian and spokesperson for findmypast.com.au
Its not necessarily the worst thing you might find when tracing your family history but some people may be stunned to discover that their ancestors came from somewhere called Watanobbi or Eggs and Bacon Bay.”
Findmypast.com.au and its partner sites asked customers in seven English-speaking countries (Australia, UK, U.S., Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa) to pick from its own shortlist of “unfortunate” Australian place-names.
“You can judge the strength of the short-list from the quality of the names that failed to make it”, says Kelly. These included Burrumbuttock (New South Wales) Wonglepong (Queensland) and Humpty Doo (now better known as Redcliffe, Queensland). “This is not to mention Useless Inlet, Foul Bay and Dismal Swamp.”
Nowhere Else in Tasmania bagged second place in the findmypast.com.au rankings, ahead of Eggs and Bacon Bay (Tasmania) in third and Bong Bong (New South Wales) fourth.
Next came Burpengary (Queensland) in fifth and Wee Waa (Queensland) sixth.
“I maybe expected Eggs and Bacon Bay to rank higher”, confesses Kelly. “But New South Wales is top state for unfortunate place-names, with three – Wattanobbi, Bong Bong and Wee Waa – in the top six.”
Only Tasmania comes close, with two names – Nowhere Else and Eggs and Bacon Bay – in the top three.
Watanobbi is a suburb of the Central Coast area of New South Wales. The origins of its name are unclear but the Geographic Names Board says that, contrary to some claims, they are not Aboriginal.
They may, on the other hand, trace back to the observations of an early landowner named Alan Chapman who remarked on the “nobby” shape of the local landscape.
More recently, some Watanobbi residents have complained that local house prices have been depressed by the coarse jokes that attach to its name, which in turn prompted an unsuccessful bid ten years ago to have its name changed to Chapman Gardens.
The origins of the name Nowhere Else are unknown, while those of Eggs and Bacon Bay may derive from the historic occasion that Lady Jane Franklin, the wife of an 18th century governor, once consumed eggs and bacon there.
The origins of the name Bong Bong, a township in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, are also Aboriginal, variously thought to mean, among other things, “a watercourse lost in a swamp” or possibly “many frogs”.
Burpengary’s name comes from the Aboriginal word for “place of the green wattle”, while Waa Waa is Aboriginal for “fire for roasting”.
“We describe these names as ‘unfortunate’”, says Kelly “but they are also, in a way, sort of wonderful and part of what makes Australia special.”
She adds: “If there were an Olympics for unlikely place-names, Australia would surely be good for a medal, if not the gold”.
It would also, however, face some strong competition, judging from the fact that a similar findmypast poll focusing on U.S. place-names has just been topped by such actual towns and real names as Toad Suck (Arkansas), Climax (Georgia) and Boring (Oregon).
Meanwhile, a similar findmypast poll focusing on UK place names has been topped by such real-life UK place-names as Shitterton, Scratchy Bottom and Broken Wind.