February 24th 2011

"Kununurra's name has a rich history"

[Plan above has a start date of 1961-04-13 and a cancelled date of  3.8.1962. It is from the WA State Records Office - Consignment 5698 - Item 0989 -  With all suggested names for the new town before Kununurra was decided on. Montage by KHS image was added on 27 VI 2020 - Use "Ctrl" "+" (plus) & "-" (minus) to zoom in & out and make text larger and easier to read - Works on any web page]

1959-1960 - The Naming of Kununurra

[Article below was published in the Kimberley Echo on Thursday February 24th 2011. - The article that was printed was edited from this version.]

Recent research of KHS Archives has found some interesting, little known facts, about the naming of “KUNUNURRA” with the earliest evidence from John G. Lewis, of the Hydraulic Branch of the Public Works Department, to Miss Gardiner, Secretary of the Nomenclature Advisory Committee (NAC). John Lewis suggested native names for the town of “WANDJIRA” and “NUNGALI”, tribal names of the area taken from a 1940's Map by Anthropologist, Norman Tindale, and suggests common names of trees native to the area for street names.

On September 25, 1959, the NAC mention that Surveyor McFadden visited the area with Mr. Long of Town Planning and had laid out a few streets in the townsite. The NAC considered naming after pioneers of Kimberley but this was not favoured and they put forward several other names from the Tindale Map, including “ARAWARI” or “ARAWODI” and “JEIDJI” or “YEIDJI” in the area, also “MUMANDIL” and “YAMANDIL”, as well as MALDIN OR MALJIN, [sic Malgnin - AB 27 VI 2020] still further away.

October 5, 1959 Surveyor General, Chairman of the NAC, Mr. Camm, suggests that “ARAWARI” was favoured but that “ORD” could also be a suitable name. October 9 1959 John Lewis puts forward an additional prospective name as the PWD choice being “CUNUNURRA” the native name for Ord River according to Mary Durack and mentions the naming in the 1940's of “Blacksoil” as “Cununurra Clay”.

The Post Master General representative, FJ Robson responds that there were post offices with similar names to those favoured and he suggests “ORD RIVER DAM” as the preferred name. Minister for the North West, Charles Court (CC), was not impressed with the latter name and asks the NAC to persist with the name “CUNUNURRA”.

At a meeting of the NAC on December 15, 1959 the name “GAIRDNER” was put forward with that and “YAMANDIL” being favoured by the committee, however Minister Court suggested to the Ministers involved that the PMG's objections to “CUNUNURRA” could be overcome. On February 5, 1960 the PMG suggests that “CUNUNURRA” is similar to “CUNNAMULLA” (QLD), “CURRAMULKA” (SA) and “CURRAWARNA” (NSW), but they would accept it if spelt “KUNUNURRA”, which Chairman of the NAC, Surveyor General Mr. Camm then recommended to Under Secretary for Lands, Mr. Bovell, who in turn recommended it to the Minister for Lands on March 1, 1960.

"Marking out Coolibah Drive November 1959" [? 1960? CHECK original - AB 27 VI 2020]  Cyril Ion Collection KHS Digital Archive Number KHS 2010-2-048-au-PD

[Read the full research on this article in the PDF below and on a separate page about Naming Kununurra - 1959-1960 Nomenclature Research file for the naming of Kununurra.]