Australian place names ending in ‘up’

Font Size:

If you want to feel ‘up’, get to Perth and drive down.

Here is a part of Australia that has embraced our Aboriginal heritage, at least with the naming of towns.

There’s precious little recognition of British lords or politicians who never set foot in this country, or the honouring of places far, far away, such as Perth, itself, which pays homage to Perth in Scotland.

Instead, there’s the overwhelming influence of Aboriginal dialects, mixed with a touch of confusion.

yallingup smiths beach

Try these southern Western Australian towns as an example of what we’re talking about: Myalup, Binningup, Warawarrup, Wokalup, Burekup, Dalyellup, Gelorup, Dardanup, Tutunup, Wonnerup, Yalyalup, Yoongarillup, Kalgup, Kaloorup, Metricup, Cowaramup, Yallingup, Wilyabrup, Gnarabup and Boranup.

Oh, did we mention Wagerup? This was originally spelt as Waigerup, but a man painting a sign for the railway station misspelt it and this misspelling stuck.

Theories abound as to why these places, and others, have ‘up’ in their names.

What we do know is that they come from the Aboriginal Noongar language. Less definite is whether ‘up’ relates to a watering place, a meeting place or simply a place. 

Wagerup, for example, translates to ‘the place of the emu’. Nearby Yallingup means ‘place of caves’, while Wokalup, further south, means ‘the place of the carpet snake’, which were common until tiger snakes moved in.

Somewhat disappointingly, many of the ‘ups’ are in the Margaret River Shire and it’s not certain who Margaret was. The best guess is that she was Margaret Whicher, a cousin of John Bussell, the founder of Busselton, which begs the other question: why isn’t it Bussellton with two l’s?

margaret river 

Not far from Busselton is Cowaramup, which is believed to come from the Aboriginal word cowara meaning purple-crowned lorikeet. Locals like to call it Cowtown, combing ‘cow’ from its name and the fact that it has a history of dairy farming.

cowaramup western australia

Nearby you’ll find Wonnerup. Wonna was a fighting stick made from the peppermint tree, while Wilyabrup is believed to derive from worlyabaraap, a Noongar word meaning ‘northern sky’.

Nannup, which sits between Jalbarragup and Barrabup, has a main street of considerable heritage significance and has featured in at least one movie.

Many of these ‘up’ towns have populations of not much more than 100 people. Yoongarillup, which was actually settled by Spaniards, recorded 72 residents in the 2016 census.

Yes, you can go on and on studying the origins of the ‘ups’. Or you can sit on a beach in one of them and watch the sun set over the ocean, sipping a local wine and ponder life on the western coast of our great country.

Where is your favourite ‘up’?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.


When a dream purchase morphs into a sinking feeling

Steve Perkin had a dream … that came to fruition. Now he has a sinking feeling.

How do you know when it’s time to hang up the car keys?

Learning to live without your licence can be confrontingt

Where do we learn about becoming a grey nomad?

Many things in life are assumed, like becoming the perfect grey nomad.

Written by Perko


Sign-up to the YourLifeChoices Enewsletter

continue reading

Seniors Finance

Be a savvier saver with these nine tips

Many people have seen their savings pots wiped out by the impact of the pandemic. At the other end of...

Finance News

Big four banks dragged to court over credit 'rort'

Screaming, dressed in glistening armour and wielding an axe, Aaron Flores has defended the honour of Australia on the battlefield....

Health news

Public toilets are a disease risk

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced more people than ever to consider the potential for airborne particles to damage their health,...


Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn's best style moments

They're one of Hollywood's most enduring - and beloved - celebrity couples. Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn started dating on...

Superannuation News

Super fund recovery steps up pace

Long-term trends such as the digitisation or economies and work automation, which have been sped up by the COVID-19 pandemic,...

Finance News

Financial advisers lobby for permanent reduction in regulation

The financial services sector wants consumer protection laws watered down, claiming they are pushing the cost of financial advice beyond...

Legal & General

Is there a safe way to block estranged child from will?

Can Angie block an estranged daughter from her will without consigning her other children to a drawn-out challenge after her...


How to stop gas pain

Flatulence, commonly referred to as 'farting', is caused by gas in the bowel. Ordinarily, the intestines produce between 500 and...