Place Names Committee

Northern Territory Rules of Nomenclature, 2001

Policies | Rules | Guidelines | Generic Terms | Dual Naming


Original Names

The original (or first published) geographic name, where determined and suitable, should be given preference.
Names in local usage should normally take precedence and the extent of the usage of names has been established.
Where priority of a name has been established by an authoritative publication, it should be retained.
Names which have geographical significance or are names of early explorers, discoverers, settlers, naturalists, surveyors etc. are generally acceptable, if appropriate, where they are relevant to the history of the Northern Territory and it's discovery.
The changing of long established place names is generally not preferred, except where necessary to avoid ambiguity or duplication.

Aboriginal Names

The use of Aboriginal names is encouraged and the collection and compilation of recorded Aboriginal place names is supported.
Known recorded Aboriginal place names should be made clear where possible with a historical background, identifying origins etc., more particularly in their areas of current occupation and traditional association.
Aboriginal place names from one area should not be applied or transposed to another.
Where the name of a single feature has been published in both Aboriginal and English forms and both forms are in general use, the Board may retain both forms, either of which may be used official.

Dual Names - Aboriginal/Non Aboriginal

A dual naming system or use of alternate/alternative names may be used for the naming of a physical feature where no official or recorded name exists and where a name change is not possible or acceptable.
Where a dual name is contemplated, research into the English name and the known Aboriginal name for the feature must determine which name should be dominant or have priority for "official use" as compared to the secondary or alternate name (e.g. Uluru/Ayers Rock ).
In any combination of languages, the standard orthography will be adopted in the use of names from the two cultures and should provide English generic terms in replacement for Aboriginal generic term where necessary or possible orthographic adaptations of the name.

Possessive Form Names

The possessive form should be avoided wherever possible without destroying the euphony of the name or changing the descriptive application.
Not withstanding the above Rule on possessive form, a principle of geographical naming provides that names established in statute by other or previous authorities must be accepted without change, once established in that possessive form.

Hyphenated Names

The use of hyphens to connect parts of names should in most cases be avoided and the name written as one word or as separate words established by usage.

Names in a Foreign Language

Geographic Names in a foreign language or perpetuating a name of a foreign national should be rendered in a form adopted by that country, except where English equivalents are already fixed by usage.

Alternative Names

The use of alternate/alternative names should be discontinued where convenient and resolved by recommending one form or the other in the renaming process under existing rules.
(e.g. Stuart versus Alice Springs, 1933 or Palmerston versus Darwin, 1911).

Names of Living Persons

In keeping with the practice of the Committee for Geographical Names in Australia, places should not be named after living persons. They are named for posterity, not the present. In the case of streets and parks the same rule applies in the urban scene.

Descriptive Names

Descriptive names are acceptable if they owe their origin to the peculiarity of the feature described, provided they are not ambiguous or involving directional nomenclature - the use of cardinal points.
(e.g. North Branch Creek etc.)

Brevity of Names

Names should usually have brevity, be euphonious and can be easily and readily pronounced.

Given Name/Surname Combinations

Whilst there have been prior approvals given for the name of streets in the Territory with both the first and surnames used (i.e. Walter Young Street, Katherine, etc.) the Northern Territory Government have adopted a policy for the sake of brevity in street signage to avoid the combination form and accept the surname only. The dedication of a street could cover a single person or a family, but the surname is to be used.

Federal Nomenclature

Where Federal legislation like the Aboriginal Land Rights Act, 1976 and the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1975 have overriding application in respect of Northern Territory nomenclature, the Committee shall adopt the names applied in respect of the former original features names. These include the former Katherine Gorge now the "Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) National Park; the renaming of the "Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park" under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1975 in 1993 in lieu of the joint use name "Ayers Rock (Uluru-Kata Tjuta) National Park" of 1977. The National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1975 provides a naming and renaming process beyond the authority of the Place Names Committee.