Many of the street and area names in Potts Point and surroundings have Indigenous origins.

Here we look at a few of them.

Recognising Indigenous culture and history in our place names

The ABC’s current affairs program 7.30 recently announced that it will begin using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names when introducing places on its program in a move to improve the representation of the Indigenous community in its programming.

The move is a joint effort with Reconciliation Australia’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), a program dedicated to making Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names, voices and languages an everyday part of our vocabulary.

We recently took a look at the history behind some of Potts Point’s street names, so we wanted to also look at the Indigenous origins of some of the place names in Potts Point and surrounds. Among the most significant ones still in use today in inner Sydney are Barangaroo, Woolloomooloo and Bennelong.

Sydney: Djubuguli

Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge, two of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, taken at late dusk. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings built in the 20th century (1973) and is UNESCO’s world heritage. — Photo from Wikipedia

Sydney’s Aboriginal name, Djubuguli, refers to what is today named Bennelong Point (where the Opera House stands), while Cadi denotes the entire Sydney Cove.


View of Barangaroo South from Balmain East in December 2014 — Photo from Wikipedia

Barangaroo is named in honour of Barangaroo, a Cammeraygal woman who lived in the area at the time of early colonial settlement who was an important and powerful community leader. Her second husband was Bennelong, after whom Bennelong Point is named.

Bennelong Point

Sydney Opera House — Photo from Wikipedia

Now, the site of the Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point is where Governor Arthur Phillip built a hut for Bennelong, an Aboriginal man he befriended who acted as a guide and interpreter for the early colonists.

Woolloomooloo: Wallamullah / Wallabahmullah

The name Woolloomooloo is believed to be derived from either Wallamullah, meaning ‘place of plenty’ or Wallabahmullah, a young black kangaroo, according to anthropologist J.D. McCarthy writing in NSW Aboriginal Place Names.

Potts Point: Derawun

According to the Australian Museum Aboriginal Place Names Chart, Derawun is the Aboriginal name for Potts Point, and is believed to refer to the East point of Farm Cove.

Elizabeth Bay: Gurrajin

Elizabeth Bay is one of a few places around Sydney Harbour that has been officially designated as a dual-named place by the Geographical Names Board (GNB), with an official dual name of ‘Elizabeth Bay / Gurrajin’.

Rushcutters Bay: Kogerah

The Australian Museum’s official place names chart lists Kogarah as the historical name for what is now Rushcutters Bay. Kogarah is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning rushes or ‘place of reeds’.

Yarranabbe Road, Darling Point: Yaranabie / Euranabie

Before European settlement, Darling Point was originally named after an Aboriginal head chief named Yaranabie or Euranabie, who belonged to one of the Aboriginal tribes living in the area at that time. The name subsequently became spelled as Yarranabbe.

Woollahra: Woo-la-ra / Willarra / Wallara

Woollahra Council Chambers — Photo from Wikipedia

Variously spelled as Woo-la-ra, Willarra and Wallara over time, the suburb name Woollahra originates from Aboriginal languages. In 1788, the First Fleet officer Daniel Southwell translated Woo-la-ra as ‘the look-out’, however, some have also proposed that the word may have meant ‘meeting ground’ or ‘camp’.

Wyuna Road, Point Piper: Allunga

View of Point Piper from Sydney Harbour — Photo from Wikipedia

Wyuna Road in the illustrious suburb of Point Piper, is thought to be derived from the Aboriginal word Allunga, meaning ‘clear water’ or ‘beautiful place’, which today seems very befitting for this scenic harbourside area.

Did you know

Many of our beachside suburbs in Sydney’s East also have Indigenous names. From Bondi to Tamarama, Coogee and Maroubra.

This look at Indigenous place names from around our area just touches the surface. We hope to see more being used in the future.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…