The Society acknowledges the traditional owners of the Irwin Districts, their continuing connection to land, sea and community and pays its respects to elders and their cultures, past and present.

Irwin Place Names Policy


  • IDHS has provided lists of street name suggestions to the Shire at various times since 1964, and made representations about place names.  Recent examples include:
    • Request for Commonage Road name plate 2/3/2021 [policy 30]
    • Request for Sikh Lane street name 23/10/2022 [policy 19d]
    • Request for Queen Elizabeth Park open-space name 23/10/2022 [policy 25]
  • Other parties have also, from time to time, requested or implemented new or changed place names (surveyors, property developers, real estate agents, etc)
  • The Shire makes formal decisions on new or revised street and place names, subject to Landgate approval
  • IDHS and Shire co-operated, through the Irwin Heritage Committee, to produce the booklet Country Roads & Byways in 2003, documenting the history of most street names then in use and of some discontinued names for which there was a historical record.  Irwin Heritage Committee is no longer in operation.
  • IDHS has a partnership with Landgate to document origins and histories of all existing place (street and locality) names in the Shire recorded in the Landgate Genoma database – this will eventually produce a revised version of Country Roads & Byways.
  • IDHS has a place names sub-committee working on the historical documentation (Genoma) project, and a place names component in our IDHS database
  • Shire requested IDHS provide a list of potential street names on 9/12/2022 (email from CEO) – IDHS response: yes, please nominate an officer to liaise with
  • Shire/IDHS Quarterly Meeting of 2/3/2023 advised that Farah Boksmati is to be our liaison for place name issues; action – IDHS to draft a guideline on place names for discussion, after which a list of place names consistent with the policy would be developed.

What is a place name (or toponym)?

The given name of a place, depending upon a sense that such a place has a character that differentiates it from another place to such a degree that it is worth naming.  Place names are usually the first point of reference when referring to a spatial location and are a fundamental component of local culture.  A place name is a proper-noun and is capitalised.



  1. To provide a framework for responding to inquiries about new or changing place names; to provide an open and transparent process for place naming; to avoid confusion, errors or discrimination in place naming; and to reinforce local character and identity within the Shire through place naming practices and maintenance.
  2. Policies are not intended to be applied retrospectively, and should be interpreted in conjunction with other policies in this document.

Public Interest

  • Any new name, or change to existing names, for features shall not risk public and operational safety, interfere with emergency service responders, or cause confusion for transport, utility, communication and postal services.
  • Any feature within a private property, retirement village, mining town or any other non-public area shall be named in accordance with these policies and standards.
  • Any change to an existing approved name is discouraged. As all official names are meant to be enduring, any proposals to change the name of a feature must include evidence of a compelling reason for such a change.

Language and Spelling

  • Names in the Shire will generally only be adopted in a single language form, and written in standard Australian English, although other language forms may be considered for reasons of cultural significance but shall be used in conjunction with the Australian English language form.
  • Names should be easy to pronounce, spell and write. They shall not exceed more than three (3) words including the generic for a feature.
  • Spelling of names should conform to Australian English where possible. However, spellings that may reflect historical spellings or forms commonly used, or preferred, through local usage or tradition including what appear to be grammatically incorrect, misspelled, improperly combined, or clipped words, may be considered.
  • Names used for roads and localities should be short. All name submissions should include pronunciation, which ideally should be euphonious.
  • An exception to this policy is in the use of Aboriginal words. It is accepted that while the traditional names may appear to be complex at first, historical uses indicate they will over time become familiar and easier to use within the community.

Aboriginal place names

  1. The use of Aboriginal names and words for naming features are a way of recognising the different enduring cultural and language groups. Names originating from an Australian Aboriginal language local to the shire or locality, must be written in a standard recognised format and their use is subject to agreement from the relevant Aboriginal communities.
  2. The use of dual naming is supported as a means of giving concurrent and shared recognition of two cultures. Dual names shall always consist of two distinct name parts; usually one part of Australian English and the other of Aboriginal Australian language origin. Dual names may be applied to natural topographic features and bounded areas such as breakaways, swamps, national parks and crown reserves, and consideration may be given to their application to contemporary infrastructure or constructed features such as roads, bridges, buildings or harbours.
  3. Consultation with the relevant Aboriginal communities should be undertaken prior to any public consultation on the proposed name(s).

Improper or demeaning names

  1. Discriminatory or derogatory names are those perceived, at a given point in time, to be offensive, demeaning, or harmful to the reputation of individuals or groups. It is recognised that the perception of discriminatory or derogatory may vary through time and from place to place. In response to requests from the public, and on a case-by-case basis, Landgate will investigate the appropriate status of any existing names deemed to be discriminatory or derogatory.
  2. Any request to change a currently used name on the grounds that the name is derogatory or patently offensive shall be forwarded to Landgate in the form of an official application and must include the reasons why the present name should be discontinued.
  3. The changing of long-established place names will generally not be accepted, although consideration may be given where it is necessary to avoid ambiguity, confusion or duplication.

Naming Themes and Patterns

  1. Preference shall be given to the names with documented usage on official maps, and/or recorded in public records and/or which have been demonstrated to be of direct historical, cultural and/or local significance or long-standing local usage.
  2. Where long-established name forms on maps and in records conflict with extensive, preferred local usage, the matter shall be referred to Landgate for resolution.
  3. Names which (subject to Policy 25)
  4. have geographical, geological or topographical significance in the shire or locality, or are
  5. flora and fauna indigenous to, or present in, the shire (common or scientific names), or are
  6. celestial formations visible from within the shire, or are
  7. of early or significant persons, residents, families or groups of or associated with the shire or locality, or are
  8. the long-standing names of rural or residential properties in the locality, or are
  9. historic names attributed to the shire, region or State, or are
  10. ships/wrecks and boats/wrecks associated with the shire and its region, or
  11. offshore features associated with the shire, or
  12. historic or culturally significant institutions, events, processes or practices (including sport), or
  13. events for which at least five years have elapsed since the event occurred, or are
  14. names of places in areas beyond but associated with the shire (notably but not restricted to the historic Irwin Road Board District 1871-1961), or
  15. which have some general association with an existing place name to which they are in geographical, cultural or visual proximity, will be preferred as names for places.
  • Corporate names (business names, trade names, brands, etc) will not be considered for permanent place naming, and commercial estate or subdivision names will not be accepted as a substitute for an official name.
  • Names will be deemed appropriate where they are relevant to the culture and history of the Shire, its broader regional and maritime environs, and the State of Western Australia, and the specific location in which they are to be applied.
  1. The name of a living person will not be considered unless they have contributed voluntary time, money or services to the community, not as part of their paid work, for at least ten years (see also principle 25).
  2. A commemorative name shall only use the surname of a person, although a forename + surname combination may be considered if necessary to avoid overuse or duplication of a surname in a locality or the shire, and/or if it will increase the visibility of the presence of women or other under-represented groups in the shire’s history or culture.
  3. A commemorative name for a person that includes a title, honorific or post nominal will generally not be considered, although the titles or honour/s the person held may be considered for special purposes.
  4. In certain circumstances the Society may ask the Minister to exercise their discretion and approve a commemorative name of a living person, or recently deceased person, for a feature where they have attained exceptional achievements at state, national or world level, and/or have special associations with the shire or region requiring special recognition, or for other special purposes.
  5. If a theme of any sort is chosen for road or feature names within a new estate or locality, that theme must relate (see policy 19) to the area in which the roads or features are to be located.

Decision making about Names

  • All local governments and government departments/authorities responsible for the administering of land within Western Australia are required to make submissions to Landgate for any naming proposals for place names, features, administrative boundaries, localities or roads within their jurisdiction.
  • The Society, upon receipt of a proposal to name a feature, or at its own initiative, may refer the proposal to the Shire for consideration, and/or may also refer the proposal directly to Landgate or the Minister or any other relevant party. 
  • The Society shall consider any proposal for a place name with reference to this policy and any other relevant policy framework, and will make this document publicly accessible.
  • The Society may from time to time ask the Shire to make all reasonable efforts to install and maintain, and reinstate missing, name plates and/or other place name identifiers at officially named places, and to correct incorrect place name identifiers at named places and/or in maps and other records.

Supporting information and guidance

  • For further assistance managing place name matters, reference should be made to the current version of Policies and Standards for Geographical Naming in Western Australia, as revised from time to time.


Dual Name means a name that consists of two names that must be used together, usually one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal.

Feature means a natural or cultural feature on the earth, and for the purpose of this policy includes geographic, topographic or geological formations, boundaries, localities, roads, parks, infrastructure, buildings and so on.  For naming marine features, refer to s1.7.5 of the Policies and Standards for Geographical Naming in Western Australia.

Generic name means the part of a place name that describes a particular type of place, such as ‘river’ or ‘street’ or ‘house’.  See also specific name.

Local usage means a geographic name commonly and currently used for a feature, whether in verbal and/or written form, by persons having frequent enough contact with the entity to use the name on a regular basis.

Locality means a geographical area defining a neighbourhood or community of interest smaller than the shire. Localities are usually rural in character though the name is interchangeable with suburb which is used to describe more urban areas.

Name plate means any tangible object that displays a place name, such as a street sign.

Official name means a geographic name, and its written form and application, approved or recognized as official by the Geographic Names Committee for use throughout Western Australia. An official name is established either by policy or decision of the secretariat and/or the Geographic Names Committee

Place means a means a named and geographically defined area. It may include elements, objects, spaces and views. Place may have tangible and intangible dimensions (Burra Charter 2013).

Place name means a noun used to identify a feature in the landscape, usually composed of two elements, a generic + a specific

Road means, for the purpose of this policy, all open ways for the passage of vehicles and people and they may or may not be formed or constructed, whatever their generic name. They also include private roads that are open to public use and the delivery of services.

Shire means the Shire of Irwin including adjacent coastal waters.

Specific name a naming element that distinguishes between two or more examples of the same type, such as ‘Irwin River’ and ‘Arrowsmith River’.  See also generic name.

Unofficial name means a name in local usage but which has not been approved as an official name.

Place Name Types

  • Descriptive names – uses a specific indicating a particular quality of the generic, e.g. Seven Mile Beach, Cliff Head, Tabletops Road, Water Supply Road, Commonage Road, Quondong Road, White Point Reef, Little Horseshoe Reef;
  • Incident names – arise from a memorable incident at a place, e.g. Albatross Lane (shipwreck);
  • Possessive names – come from the idea of ownership, e.g. Pell Bridge, Wye Farm Road, Golf Course Road, Pearses Break, Jacks Reef;
  • Commemorative names – consciously given in honour of something, e.g. Irwin, Port Denison, Mount Horner, War Memorial Park, Hampton Street, Criddle Road, Clarkson Street;
  • Transfer names – consciously given to associate a place with the qualities of another place, e.g. Blenheim Road (from either Blenheim NZ, or Blenheim Palace, England), North Shore Drive (from North Shore, Sydney), Wimpole Road (from Wimpole Farm, itself from Wimpole, England);
  • Euphemistic names – consciously given, sometimes ironically, to infer or bestow favourable conditions, e.g. Mount Pleasant, Harbour View [road]
  • Manufactured names – constructed from variously recombined sounds or letters, e.g. Belaura Road (Isabel + Laura) [note: Landgate now discourages such names];
  • Shift names – a shift of the specific from one generic to another, e.g. Yardarino Road in the Yardarino locality and near the Yardarino Siding site; Big Leander Reef, Little Leander Reef, Point Leander Drive all within the vicinity of Leander Point – a group of shift names is a name cluster;
  • Folk-etymology names – the attribution of a place name origin in local usage that is demonstrably inaccurate, or from an assumption that an obsolete or foreign word is something different from what it really is, e.g. Monastery Avenue (on land formerly owned by the Benedictine Order and in local usage named ‘the Monastery’ although formally the place was named the Benedictine Retreat); Bootenal is an anglicisation of Boolungal (Amangu for pelican, and a ‘foreign’ word to English speakers) but folk history attributes the name to a man having to be pulled from the mud ‘boots ’n all’ – the anglicisation of some Aboriginal place names in the shire and region fall in this class.


Country Roads & Byways, 2003 – historical/technical reference

Place Names of Heritage Value: A Heritage Council Policy, NSW Heritage Council, 2004 – historical/technical reference

Placenames Australia, Newsletter of the Australian National Placenames Survey – current practice

Policies and Standards for Geographical Naming in Western Australia, Version 03:2017, Landgate – current State policy

The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance, 2013.

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