Create a presentation on why Geographical Names are important

Setting the scene

What would life be like if you didn't have a name?  How could friends look up your phone number or address in the telephone book?  How would teachers do a roll call?  How would people sing "Happy Birthday" to you on that special day ("Happy birthday to... who ")?

Our names are important because they help give us an identity and make us unique.  It is the same with place names.  A place name must be unique too or else it would be difficult finding places where we want to go.  Imagine if there were two suburbs in Canberra called Cook (one named after the Prime Minister, another after the explorer). 

What would you do if your friend invited you around to her house in the suburb of Cook?  Which one would you go to?  You would probably get lost!  But if there was only one suburb named Cook – if the suburb’s name was unique – it would be much easier to find the address, and that means that you and your friend would have more time for fun!


Geographical names are important because they help us find places.  The trouble is that there are lots of geographical names that already exist, and that for each new suburb, street, and feature, a name must be found that won't have people confused.  It is ok to have the same street name in different suburbs such as Smith Street Cook and Smith Street Braddon, because that is not confusing; but having two Smith Streets in the one suburb can confuse people and make them get lost.  It is the same with you and your classmates - it is not terribly confusing if two students have the same first name only, but role call would be a nuisance, especially to your teacher, if two students had the same first name and surname.

Names, and combinations of names, are one way of making us unique, and it is the same with geographical names.

Questions to keep in mind

In this task you should expand on why geographical names are important.  When doing this presentation, it is important to keep three questions in mind:

  1. How has naming occurred over time?
  2. How have indigenous names been used in naming?
  3. In what ways are European names and history used in naming?

Steps you need to take

  1. Watch the What’s in a Name video narrated by Ernie Dingo.
  2. Create a new document using MS PowerPoint or Word (ask your teacher if you need help). 
  3. Title the document "What’s in a name" or "Why are Geographical Place Names Important?"
  4. Using what you have learned from the video, prepare a short presentation, answering the three questions above.
  5. For a bit of fun, you might want to include some strange & interesting facts about places.  You can find some in the Quiz Page.