List of place names of Dutch origin in Australia

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The Australian coast known to Dutch explorers until 1644. Note the whole east coast is missing.

Of an estimated 200 place names the Dutch bestowed on Australian localities in the 17th century as a result of the Dutch voyages of exploration along the western, northern and southern Australian coasts, only about 35 can still be found on current maps. Five out of six names were either renamed or forgotten or their locations were lost.[1] Other places were named after the early Dutch explorers by later British explorers or colonists, for instance the Australian state of Tasmania is named after Abel Tasman. Australia itself was called New Holland by the English and Nieuw Holland by the Dutch.

Places named by the Dutch[edit]


The Dutch charted the western side of Cape York Peninsula and the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Willem Janszoon made the first recorded European landfall in Australia during the Janszoon voyage of 1605-6.

Dutch name English translation Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
Kaap Keerweer Cape Keerweer 1606 Meaning "turn-about" cape, the point where the Duijfken turned back North 13°56′00″S 141°28′30″E / 13.93333°S 141.47500°E / -13.93333; 141.47500 (Cape Keerweer)
Golf van Carpentaria Gulf of Carpentaria 1623 Pieter de Carpentier, then Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies 13°59′S 139°00′E / 13.983°S 139.000°E / -13.983; 139.000 (Gulf of Carpentaria) Situated between the Northern Territory and Queensland
Coen Rivier Coen River 1623 Jan Pieterszoon Coen, previous Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies 13°37′S 142°08′E / 13.617°S 142.133°E / -13.617; 142.133 (Coen River) Renamed to Archer River, while its southern tributary (the "South Coen River") retained its name[2]
Staaten Rivier Staaten River 1623 Like Staten Island after the Staten-Generaal 16°24′S 141°17′E / 16.400°S 141.283°E / -16.400; 141.283 (Staaten River)
Nassau Rivier Nassau River [3] 1644 Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange 15°54′S 141°23′E / 15.900°S 141.383°E / -15.900; 141.383 (Nassau River)
Van Diemens Baai Van Diemen Inlet 1644 Anthony van Diemen, then Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies 16°58′S 140°59′E / 16.967°S 140.983°E / -16.967; 140.983 (Van Diemen Inlet)
Kaap Van Diemen Cape Van Diemen 1644 Anthony van Diemen 16°31′S 139°42′E / 16.517°S 139.700°E / -16.517; 139.700 (Cape Van Diemen) eastern cape of Mornington Island in the Wellesley Islands


Dutch name Current name Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
Riv. met het Bosch Pennefather River 1606 For being a river in the bush 12°13′S 141°44′E / 12.217°S 141.733°E / -12.217; 141.733 (Cape York Peninsula) Australia's first recorded place name, intriguingly named after the emblematic "bush"
Carpentaria Cape York Peninsula 1623 ? Pieter de Carpentier 14°S 140°E / 14°S 140°E / -14; 140 (Cape York Peninsula)
Van Speult Rivier Jardine River Dutch local governor, Herman van Speult 10°55′S 142°12′E / 10.917°S 142.200°E / -10.917; 142.200 (Jardine River)
Batavia Rivier Wenlock River Batavia 12°03′S 141°55′E / 12.050°S 141.917°E / -12.050; 141.917 (Wenlock River)

Northern Territory[edit]

Dutch name English translation Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
Kaap Arnhem Cape Arnhem and Arnhem Land 1623 The ship Arnhem which explored the area. 12°21′S 136°58′E / 12.350°S 136.967°E / -12.350; 136.967 (Arnhem Land) The ship was itself named after the city of Arnhem, Gelderland.
Groote Eylandt "Big island" sighted 1623, named 1644 14°00′S 136°35′E / 14.000°S 136.583°E / -14.000; 136.583 (Groote Eylandt)
Wesel Eilanden Wessel Islands 1636 The ship Klein Wesel or just Wezel, which explored the area.[1] 11°30′S 136°25′E / 11.500°S 136.417°E / -11.500; 136.417 (Van Diemen Gulf) The ship was itself named after the city of Wesel, Duchy of Cleves.
Crocodils Eijlandt Crocodile Islands 1644 Saltwater crocodiles 11°53′S 135°05′E / 11.883°S 135.083°E / -11.883; 135.083 (Crocodile Islands)
Kaap Van der Lijn Cape Vanderlin 1644 Cornelis van der Lijn, member of the Council of India 15°35′S 136°59′E / 15.583°S 136.983°E / -15.583; 136.983 (Cape Vanderlin) Actually the Sir Edward Pellew Group of Islands, the cape name is used for the northern tip of Vanderlin Island
Kaap Maria Maria Island 1644 Maria Van Aelst, wife of Anthony van Diemen 14°52′S 135°44′E / 14.867°S 135.733°E / -14.867; 135.733 (Maria Island) An island, not a cape, in the Limmen Bight, now called Maria Island
Limmen Bocht Limmen Bight 1644 The ship Limmen, one of the three ships in Tasman's 1644 expedition.[2] 14°50′S 135°34′E / 14.833°S 135.567°E / -14.833; 135.567 (Limmen Bight) The ship was itself named after the town of Limmen, Holland.
Van Diemen Baai Van Diemen Gulf 1644 Anthony van Diemen 12°S 132°E / 12°S 132°E / -12; 132 (Van Diemen Gulf)

Western Australia[edit]

Dutch name English translation Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
Dirck Hartogs Ree cap. Dirk Hartog Island 1616 Dirk Hartog 25°50′S 113°05′E / 25.833°S 113.083°E / -25.833; 113.083
Dorre Eijlanden Dorre Island 1616 Translates to "arid islands" 25°03′S 113°06′E / 25.050°S 113.100°E / -25.050; 113.100 to the north of Dirk Hartog Island, appears on 1697-1726 map
Willems Rivier Yardie Creek 1618 Willem Jansz, captain of the Duyfken 22°19′23″S 113°48′44″E / 22.32306°S 113.81222°E / -22.32306; 113.81222 Named by captain Lenaert Jacobsz. Jansz was on board, making this his second visit to Australia.[4]
Houtmans Abrolhos Houtman Abrolhos 1619 Frederick de Houtman, various published explanations for "Abrolhos" 28°43′S 113°47′E / 28.717°S 113.783°E / -28.717; 113.783
Rottnest Island Rat's Nest Island 12/29/1696 Quokkas which appeared to be rats, hence 'rat's nest' 31°59′46″S 115°32′28″E / 31.99611°S 115.54111°E / -31.99611; 115.54111 Named by [Tom Preston]
Zwaanenrivier or Swarte Swaene-Rivier Swan River 1/10/1697 Black swans 31°56′50″S 115°54′58″E / 31.94722°S 115.91611°E / -31.94722; 115.91611 Named by Willem de Vlamingh
Landt van de Leeuwin Cape Leeuwin Leeuwin (galleon) 34°22′27″S 115°08′09″E / 34.37417°S 115.13583°E / -34.37417; 115.13583 Name used for the land in the south west, now name only used for the cape.
Landt van P. Nuyts Nullarbor Pieter Nuyts 32°18′S 125°52′E / 32.300°S 125.867°E / -32.300; 125.867 Nuytsland comprised the entire coast adjoining the Great Australian Bight. The name survives in two smaller, separate areas: Nuytsland Nature Reserve and Nuyts Land District.

South Australia[edit]

Dutch name English translation Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
Landt van P. Nuyts Nullarbor 1/16/1627 Pieter Nuyts 32°S 132°E / 32°S 132°E / -32; 132 Nuytsland was the given to the coast adjoining the Great Australian Bight.
Eijland St. François St. Francis Island 1627 St. Francis via François Thijssen 32°31′S 133°17′E / 32.517°S 133.283°E / -32.517; 133.283
Eijland St. Pieter St. Peter Island 1627 St. Peter via Pieter Pietersen, the head merchant on Thijssen's expedition 32°17′S 133°34′E / 32.283°S 133.567°E / -32.283; 133.567


Dutch name English translation Date Reason for naming Coords Notes
Diemens Land Van Diemen's Land 11/24/1642 Anthony van Diemen 43°35′S 146°21′E / 43.583°S 146.350°E / -43.583; 146.350 Now known as Tasmania, after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman
Wits Eijlanden De Witt Island 1642 Cornelis Jan Witsen, a VOC Commissioner 43°35′S 146°21′E / 43.583°S 146.350°E / -43.583; 146.350
Sweers eijland Sweers Island 1642 named after Salomon Sweers, member of the Council of India
Eijland den Maet Maatsuyker Island 12/1/1642 named after Joan Maetsuycker, member of the Council of India 43°39′18″S 146°16′23″E / 43.65500°S 146.27306°E / -43.65500; 146.27306
Pedra branca 1642 "towards noon we passed two rocks of which the westernmost was like Pedra Branca off the coast of China" 43°51′S 146°58′E / 43.850°S 146.967°E / -43.850; 146.967 (Pedra branca) Name is Portuguese in origin, although named by the Dutch Tasman
Boreels-eiland Boreel Head 11/29/1642 Pieter Boreel, member of the Council of India 43°14′S 148°00′E / 43.233°S 148.000°E / -43.233; 148.000 (The Friars) Islands now called The Friars, Boreel Head is now the nearby cape on the south of Bruny Island
Storm Baij Storm Bay 1642 "[Tasman] had almost reached his intended anchorage when a heavy storm arose and he was driven out so far to sea that next morning he could hardly discern the land. It was from this incident that Storm Bay got its name." [3] 43°10′S 147°33′E / 43.167°S 147.550°E / -43.167; 147.550 (Storm Bay)
Tasmans Eijland Tasman Island 1642 43°14′S 148°00′E / 43.233°S 148.000°E / -43.233; 148.000 (Tasman Island)
Fredericks Hendricks Baij Frederick Hendrick Bay 1642 42°51′S 147°58′E / 42.850°S 147.967°E / -42.850; 147.967 (Frederick Hendrick Bay) nearby NE cape on Forestier Peninsula still has the name Cape Frederick Hendrick, not near Frederick Henry Bay which is on the other side of the Tasman Peninsula which he never visited. The bay he called Frederick Henry Bay is now Marion Bay [4]
Marias Eijlandt Maria Island 12/4/1642 Maria Van Aelst, wife of Anthony Van Diemen 42°37′S 148°05′E / 42.617°S 148.083°E / -42.617; 148.083 (Maria Island)
Schoute Eijlandt Schouten Island 12/4/1642 Justus Schouten, member of the Council of India. 42°18′S 148°16′E / 42.300°S 148.267°E / -42.300; 148.267 (Schouten Island)
Van der Lijns Eijland Vanderlins Island 1642 Cornelis van der Lijn, member of the Council of India 42°13′S 148°18′E / 42.217°S 148.300°E / -42.217; 148.300 (Freycinet Peninsula) not an island, actually Freycinet Peninsula. [5] When Tasman passed it he was heading east; did not see the connection to the mainland in the north.

Places named after the Dutch[edit]

Other places were given Dutch names by later explorers or colonists in honour of the Dutch. These include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jan Tent, Geographic and Linguistic Reflections on Moent and Dubbelde Ree: Two of Australia’s First Recorded Placenames Archived 26 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Geographical Research 44(4):372–385
  2. ^ "December 2007 – Australia on the Map".
  3. ^ Institut, Eingestellt von CID. "Nassau River - Queensland / Australia".
  4. ^ The AOTM Landings List 1606 – 1814 Archived 10 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine