Find out how place names came about on the Sunshine Coast.
First Nations Place Names on the Sunshine Coast
The Kabi Kabi and Jinibara First Nations peoples retain traditional names for each site and place in the area which has been known as the “Sunshine Coast” since 1967.
See the map of First Nations Place Names and the Table of First Nations Place Names by Sunshine Coast’s Historian in Residence Dr Ray Kerkhove (2022), who consulted closely with Traditional Custodians.
The name Sunshine Coast was launched in December 1958 at the inaugural dinner of the Sunshine Coast Branch of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland, held at the Hotel Caloundra.
The Branch had begun a drive to popularise and obtain recognition for the name, to replace the term 'Near North Coast', which was not considered distinct enough, and had 'no significance for southerners.'
The name tied in with the decision to form the Sunshine Coast Promotion Bureau to promote the district covered by the three shires. It gave the district 'a great start in developing a tourist industry'; 'Sunshine', signifying 'brightness and warmth' (and providing a complementary attraction to the Gold Coast).
The idea of changing the name to "Sunshine Coast" was controversial and only adopted after 8 years of debate. Finally, in November 1966, Maroochydore, Noosa and Landsborough Shires all voted separately to adopt the name "Sunshine Coast" for the region. The name was officially gazetted on 22 July 1967 and took effect from 1 August 1967.
Originally known as Potts' Point, but when Thomas O'Connor subdivided and sold building sites in this area in 1916, he renamed it in honour of Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII.
Possibly meaning a beautiful place, as per Henzell’s Real Estate pamphlet.
Ballinger Beach North of Dicky Beach named in the 1960s after early selector, John Ballinger selected land south of Lake Currimundi and was the first permanent resident in the area that is now known as Caloundra. Ballinger raised sheep on his selection and a hill where the sheep used to sleep was named Battery Hill and the area was fortified against an expected Russian invasion mid 1880s (approximately 1882).
Originally named during the 1880s when it was feared that the Russians would invade Australia. Developers of the area retained the Battery Hill name, recognising the area’s World War Two history, where Australian troops undertook artillery training in the vicinity of Currimundi and Battery Hill.
Named after a favourite horse that died there in 1867 belonging to Jardine, a surveyor, who worked the road from Gympie to Brisbane.
Pronounced bir-barram or beear-burrum, a Gubbi Gubbi dialect, means sound of wings of king parrot. Also recorded as Waiaa-murrum which is derived from the Dungidau word, waran meaning parrot. Baair - means King Parrot in Gubbi Gubbi, Barrum- means the bauple nut tree and it’s fruit (macadamia nut).
Birrawaman, Birwa or Birroa (abbreviation of birra-wandum) Sky (birra) Climbing Up (wandum) in the Turrbal language. Bira-wa meaning up in the sky.
Named after Mary (Maria) Alice Bell, who selected the land north of Bells Creek.
(Billai) Swamp oak tree (Bli Bli - many forest oak trees).
Meaning Middle. Named by Kawana Estates, developers of the area, also known during the early 1970s as Shang-ri-la.
Place of black possum.
Boreen is not a local word, but comes from the Aboriginal tribes around Moreton Bay. It referred to the pathway that led between the two boras in the kippa-ring.
Yarun, meaning hunting ground to the Joondoobarrie people.
Queensland Railways first named this siding on the North Coast railway between Yandina and North Arm "Ninderry" in 1911. Because of its distance from Mount Ninderry, the name was changed to Bridges in 1918, after Major-General William Bridges the cofounder of the First A.I.F.
Meaning Sunbeam, named by Alfred Grant, early developer of the area.
Honeysuckle. Red soil. (Badderam) Shrub banksia.
Named after Robert Bulcock, a Brisbane politician, who bought 277 acres of land in 1875, containing the town area of present day Caloundra. Bulcock and his family settled permanently in 1885. He built his house, The Homestead in 1878 overlooking Happy Valley.
The first white settler in the area, Patrick King, named his property 'Burnside' as a small burn or creek flowed through the land.
Kal’owen-dha or cullawanda, meaning place of beech trees. Galouwen-dja Kal’owen-dha, meaning place of beech trees derived from kal’owen, beech tree (Gmelina leichardtii) and dha, abbreviated from dhagun, meaning place. Beech trees were plentiful in the area before being cut out by the timber getters.
Cambroon Run, a cattle property named in 1850 after a fine old Aboriginal warrior, who in earlier times had claimed that part of the upper Mary River district as his territory. Cambroon was a skilful tomahawk thrower, even in his old age.
(Cha-balan) Coarse grass.
D. T. MacKenzie named his pastoral lease, Conondale Station, in 1851, after Strath Conon in Rosshire, Scotland.
Neck (kunna) crooked (warang).
Place of Koalas.
The cooloolah is the coastal cypress or callitris. It is said to be suggested by the sound made by the wind in these trees.
Kabi dialect for cypress pine (kululu) and thin (to swim) referring to the early rafting of cypress pine logs in the creek.
(Gulum or Kulum) Blunt (Aboriginal).
From guran meaning tall trees or Moreton Bay ash.
(Lake Cooroibah) Place of possums.
Mt Cooroy’s original name was Coorooey, from the Aboriginal word kurui - possum. The town got its name from the mountain.
This was the Aboriginal name for the lake. It meant place where the wood used in making notched or studded clubs could be found.
Early district resident, Owen Jones, named his property Crohamhurst, after a village in England. His son, Inigo Jones recorded Australia’s highest rainfall within a 24 hour period, 35.71 inches in February 1893.
Girraman, garamandha or crummunda, meaning place of flying fox. G. Former Governor of Queensland, Sir Leslie Wilson, had a house built in the area in 1936, which he called Girramundi, the spelling of which is close to the correct Aboriginal pronunciation, Girraman-dha, from girra/man a flying fox and dha, a contraction of a word common to Gubbi Gubbi and neighbouring dialects, dha/gun, meaning place or country. In a survey plan of 1845, Surveyor Burnett recorded the Aboriginal name of the area as Crummunda. Gettimanda Swamp was a term used by the pioneering Laxton family, in reference to Currimundi Lake.
Named after a ship, the S.S. Dicky which was caught in the destructive 1893 cyclone and was driven up onto the beach. Attempts to re-float her were abandoned and the rusting hulk remains on the beach today.
(Dhilla) Place of coarse grass. Carpet snake. (Dilli-ba) Dilly bags.
It is thought that Doonan means 'leaf of a tree'.
Double Island Point
Captain Cook so named this point, 18 May, 1770, because, from his ship, it looked as though there were two small islands lying just below the land.
Mud or wet clay.
Fresh water eel.
(Ngumundi or Huomundy) name of Aboriginal chieftain said to have adopted escaped convict Bracefield as his son in 1831.
Taken from "Flaxton Hall Farm" in the Fens of Eastern England
Glass House Mountains
Named the Glass Houses by Lt. James Cook on Thursday 17th May 1770, because they reminded him of the glass furnaces in his native Yorkshire. A nearby creek was named Glass Mountain Creek, it’s Aboriginal name was daki comon -meaning stone standing up.
An Aboriginal name meaning a place of flowers.
Gympie was the Kabi Kabi name for a stinging tree which grew prolifically around the Mary River, and the name was given to one of the river’s tributaries, Gympie Creek. The mulberry leaved Dendrocnide moroides has tiny stinging hairs on leaves and narrow stems.
Kawana, an Aboriginal word, of unidentified dialect, meaning wild flowers. Alfred Grant, who started to develop the region in 1960, named the area. It was in the traditional country of the Undumbi people. This part of the coastline was renowned for its brilliant wildflower blooms.
The name Kin Kin is derived from the Aboriginal kauin kauin meaning red soil. The school was previously called Bellbird Creek Flat School. The creek was formerly King King Creek. * Kin Kin = king king – Aboriginal name for a species of small black ant, prevalent in the area.
Most probably named by Robert Bulcock, whose house overlooked this area. On early maps, this area was known as Deepwater Point.
Supposedly named after a township in England.
Named after Howell brothers who selected land on which this, the highest point in Caloundra City is found.
First called Hunchback, it was changed to Hunchy and this became the name of the area at the foothills of the Blackall Range.
Following the establishment of a settlement there about 1890, it was named Ilkley by Joseph Kitson, the local preacher, after the town he came from in Yorkshire, England.
Kawana, an Aboriginal word, of unidentified dialect, meaning wild flowers, was named by Alfred Grant, who started to develop the area in 1960. Kawana - meaning Flowers. The name Kawana Island was officially changed to Kawana Waters 4th October 1968.
The town is named after the cattle run on the east bank of the Mary River taken up by Richard Smith. Mrs Smith was reading Scott's novel "Kenilworth" at the time the run was tendered for in 1850, hence the name "Kenilworth".
Named after Henry August Keil (correct spelling) who settled on the eastern slopes in 1880.
Named after the King family, who were the first residents in the area, moving there in 1893. Mr Allan King built the Grand Central Guest House, at Kings Beach, in approximately 1908.
From Gubbi Gubbi language, "kalang" meaning "good". Railway Station name from April 1921
Swan (other possibilities, kangaroo).
Dog. Decorated digging stick.
(Kuril-ba) Place of rats and mice.
Named in honour of explorer, William Landsborough, who settled in the Golden Beach area, in 1881-1882. Landsborough named his property Loch Lamerough. Landsborough township was originally known as Mellum Creek. Mellum is said to be an Aboriginal word for volcano. Mellum Creek township name was changed in 1891, after the railway had gone through the town.
The slopes of the Blackall Range are extremely steep and the timber getters on top built 'shoots' down which the logs slid and hurtled to the bottom. "Lander's Chute Lookout" between Montville and Maleny commemorates Mr Lander who had one such shoot.
The Balfour brothers established Colinton Station on the Upper Brisbane River, in 1841. The Balfours were surveyors and it is suggested that while they were surveying for the firm, Baring Brothers & Co., that they named Malleny Mountain, on the Blackall Range, after the town of Malleny, near the Scottish town of Balerno. Also suggested to be derived from the name of a Surveyor, by the name of Maloney, who is said to have worked in the area.
First known just as Blackall Range, then Luton Vale, the area was officially named Mapleton in 1894 at the suggestion of early settler W.J. Smith who had read about "a pretty little place on top of a hill named Mapleton in England".
So named because of its position (between MARoochydore and COOlum).
The name Maroochydore is derived from two words of the Yuggera (Brisbane River) language, i.e. Muru-kutchi — meaning red-bill, the name of the black swan. Maroochydore is from Murukutchi-dha, the place of the black swan.
The name of the swan abbreviated by Aboriginal usage to Murukutchi, hence Maroochy. This name was not given by local natives, but by Andrew Petrie when on an explanation trip of the coast in 1842. Petrie had two Brisbane River Aboriginal men with him from whom, presumably, he obtained the name. The local name for the swan is Kuluin. The name Maroochydore came into general use in 1884.
Derived from Richard and William Westaway’s property name. John Westaway took over an early selection of Edmund Lander’s, which Lander had named Moolooloo Plains.
Meaning many or plentiful.
Named after James C. Moffat, a chemist from Brisbane, who established a holiday cottage in 1883 on Moffat Head. About 1887 Moffat formed a land syndicate. After a small land sale, the balance of the land was raffled amongst the members of the syndicate, areas going in proportion to the individual’s capital invested. Moffat's high point, overlooking the ocean, was the most desired portion to win. Moffat, himself was the winner of the prized headland pinnacle.
Named after the Battle of Mons - the first major battle of World War I, which took place on the Western Front between the British and German armies on August 23, 1914. A ballot was organised for locals to place names in a hat to be drawn out to name the railway siding along the Buderim-Palmwoods Tramway. The tramway commenced operations in 1915. It is thought that the Dahl family placed the name Mons in the ballot to commemorate a son who may have fought at Mons.
Henry Smith bought a selection there in 1893 and it was his mother who suggested the name as she had fond memories of her early years at Montville, Connecticut, USA. It had previously been called Razorback.
(mulu) Aboriginal word for schnapper fish or (mulla) red-bellied black snake. Originally known as Mooloolah Heads, the name was changed to Mooloolaba by Thomas O'Connor in 1919 when he subdivided land for sale there.
Meaning Black snake. Possibly derived from the word Mulu, meaning red bellied black snake, although one early source states that Mooloolah means schnapper. A map published in 1842 spelt the area as Moboolah. Mooloolah township marks the approximate boundary between the tribal lands of the Nalbo and Undumbi people.
See Coolum Beach
Named after the creek that drains the southern slopes of Buderim and the wallum country nearby. It is tidal for a short distance and flows into the Mooloolah River above the Cod Hole and the Traffic Bridge on the Nicklin Way.
(Midyim) Shrub Midyimba - Place of midyim shrub.
(Naamba) Willow bottlebrush/ti-tree (Callistemon salignus). Named after cattle station selected by William Samwell in 1870. Town originally called Petrie's Creek. Renamed 1891.
(Nyindur) Leech. Friend of Maroochy (Aboriginal legend). Originally known as North Maroochy. Named after the north arm of the Maroochy River about 1890.
The Aboriginal people called Noosa Head, Wantima, meaning rising up or climbing up (Petrie). The name first used by white people was Bracefield’s Head or Cape Bracefield. This was as a result of an exploratory party involving Andrew Petrie and others finding the runaway convict, Bracefield, living with the Kabi Kabi people in the area in 1842. However it came to be given a permanent name of Aboriginal derivation meaning shade or shadow. * Noothera or Gnuthuru = shadow or shady place.
Name of noted warrior.
Named by PP. Development Pty Ltd in 1959.
Originally known as "Merriman's Flat" which was the name of the Kuskopf's property. The Kuskopfs arrived in 1881 and were among the first white settlers. Later the name "Palmwoods" was chosen due to the Piccabeen palm groves that grew in abundance in the area.
Originally the district was referred to as Peach Trees. A number of wild peach trees grew near the Stanley River, on a Pasturage Reserve, having germinated where bullockies and timber getters camped and corralled their bullocks. Chester, means village in England. The Stanley River was named after Edward Stanley (1799 - 1869) 14th Earl of Derby, who was Secretary of State for the Colonies (1833 - 1844), then P.M. of Great Britain1852-1858. John McConnell, of Durundur Station (Woodford) selected 640 acres east of the Stanley River, where Peachester now stands, in 1860. William Grigor Junior moved his sawmill from Maleny to a site on the Stanley River, in 1899 and the township developed about this focal point.
Emu - possibly because of the number of emus in the district. The swamp north-west of the hill is known as Emu Swamp and it is certain that the tribesmen hunted emus and swamp wallabies there. Or (Pirridhan/jan) mangrove seeds.
(Wuluwuin/Kuluwin) Pigeons. Earliest spellings included - Pillywillman, Pillawillamon, Pillewilliman and Perwillowan.
Lieutenant Bligh took up land in this area in 1860 and called it Caroora. For a couple of years after the railway line was built the rail stop was called Cooroora siding. The nearby mountain is still called Cooroora Mountain. The railway and postal authorities found it confusing having Cooran, Cooroora and Cooroy so close together, so the Railway Department changed the name to Pinbarren Siding. This lasted until 1906 when the Pinbarren Progress Association was invited to suggest a new name and they chose Pomona. Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit and fruit trees. This name was being promoted well before it was officially adopted. The Under Secretary for Lands used it as far back as 6 March, 1900.
Would appear to be named in honour of Sir Richard Arkwright, the inventor of the modern cotton spinning factory system and machinery. Just who bestowed this name is not known as it was obviously intended to be grouped with Point Cartwright, which was named after Edmund Cartwright who developed weaving and combing equipment which compliment Arkwright's inventions. The name would appear to post-date 1861, as Point Cartwright had been named Point Raper by Lt. Heath RN in that year.
Situated near the hinterland town of Maleny, the Reesville district was previously known as Howells Knob, after Robert Howell and his brother who selected land in the area, on which present day scenic lookout, Howells Knob is situated. It was named Reesville in 1923 in honour of H.O. Rees senior, who built his home there.
Possibly named due to the enormous amounts of shells which are deposited on that stretch of shoreline. Tom Maloney collected shell grit from Shelly Beach and transported it in a buckboard, drawn by two horses and took it to Brisbane via the Kauri, the Maloney Brother's boat, and sold it to poultry suppliers.
The area south of Noosa Headlands was known, early on, as Golden Beach, but was rarely visited prior to the 1920s. In 1928 Thomas Marcus Burke did a deal with the Noosa Shire Council whereby he gained land in exchange for building roads and bridges from Tewantin, and he started marketing the new town of Noosa. It had to wait though until after the Depression and the Second World War for these blocks to sell, and then it was then marketed by T.M.Burke’s son, Marcus, as Sunshine Beach.
Legendary New Zealand monster.
Dauwah, dead wood or dry timber.
It was timber that brought the fi rst white men to the area, and the felled logs were dragged or rafted to a sawmill set up in the 1860s on the shores of Lake Doonella. The timber was shipped out down the Noosa River from there to Brisbane. So a name meaning dead wood or place of dead logs seems appropriate. *dauwadhum = place of dead logs.
Flying squirrel or Sugar Glider (chibur) biting (kaiyathin).
Flying squirrel (chibur) hungry (waiarangum).
Place of grasstrees or high hill climbing up.
Mountains (tunba) two (budla).
Probably named after David G. Verrier, an early settler in the area.
A number of places along the Sunshine Coast end in -ba, this being the Aboriginal term for place. Weyba (or it has earlier been spelt Weiba and Wyeba) probably means the place of stingrays or it could be the place of the flying squirrels.
Place of stingrays.
Wetya meaning wild dog or dingo. The area was also known as Teutoberg from the late 1880s, after a number of German settlers selected land in the area in 1887. The area name changed in 1916, from Teutoberg (a small town in Germany) to Witta, due to a desire for the settlers of the area to be patriotic to the Crown while World War One raged in Europe. Some say Witta is not an Aboriginal word, but derived from another German town called Vitta.
Named after one of the later owners of Durundur Station. Mr H.C. Wood became a M.L.C. in 1875. The town of Woodford was resumed from Durundur Station in approximately 1878, in an area selected mainly by Durundur employees.
(Wumbai) place of black snake or (wambai) black myrtle or axe handle made from black myrtle.
Wud’ha, or wootcher, meaning Red Cedar. (Cedrela toona) Wootha is a district on the southern outskirts of Maleny, along the Stanley River Road.
Means southward. Named by Kawana Estates employees, early 1970s.
The area where the town is situated was called "Koongalba" (small water) by the Aboriginal people and Native Dog Flat by the early pastoralists. The name is derived from "yan", to go, and "dinna", feet, (to go on foot) and was the name of the Yandina cattle run that was east of Mount Ninderry.
First developed in 1953, it was named "Coronation Beach" in honour of Queen Elizabeth's coronation that year. Changed to Yaroomba in 1961, supposedly meaning, "surf on the beach".
- Alcorn, Berenis. The Maroochy River and its people. Maroochy River Catchment Area Network, 1994
- Alcorn, Berenis. Pacific Paradise: preliminary survey of the history of the locality. Transcript of talk given to Pacific Paradise Progress Association, 5 September 1995.
- Dictionary of the Gubbi-Gubbi and Butchulla languages. Compiled by Jeanie Bell, Brisbane, 1994. Compiled by Jeanie Bell, Brisbane, 1994.
- Fink, Fred. A history of Yandina. Yandina Historical Society. 1998.
- Fraser, Garth & McGarvie, Neil. The Buderim Palmwoods tramway. Buderim-Palmwoods Heritage Tramway Incorporated 2010. p 26
- Heap, E.G. "In the Wake of the Raftsmen: a survey of early settlement in the Maroochy District up to the passing of the Crown Lands Alienation Act, 1868", Part lll, in "Queensland Heritage", Volume 1, No. 5, November 1966.
- Kerkhove, Ray. Aspects of Nambour's indigenous heritage. Nambour, Qld: Ray Kerkhove, 2016. pp 2-4.
- Noosa Community Guide. Tewantin, Qld: Noosa Shire Council. 2005. pp 44-57.
- Queensland Place Names Committee (Department of Natural Resources).
- Steele, J.G. Aboriginal pathways: in southeast Queensland and the Richmond River. St Lucia, Qld: University of Queensland Press, 1984.
- Want, Barbara. Nambour street names; their origin and history. Nambour, Qld: Maroochy Shire Council, 1995
- Watson, F.V. "Vocabularies of four representative tribes of South Eastern Queensland" (supplement to Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Australasia (Queensland) No. 34 Vol. 48).
- Windolf, John and Frances. A concise history of the Coolum District. Coolum Beach, Qld. 1988.
- Woods, Alf. Along the Sunshine Coast. Bowen Hills, Qld: Boolarong Publications, 1988.
Use this directory to find out how the name of a park, place or community infrastructure came about.