The Discovery of Australia: Naming Australia's Coastline

Cape Leeuwin to Head of Bight

Cape Leeuwin (right)
7.12.1801. Flinders. The most southerly point of Leeuwin's land. Called Leeuwin's land on early Dutch charts. In March 1622, the Dutch East Indiaman Leeuwin made land contact here. They described the land they found as low-lying, sandy dunes and marked their charts 'Leeuwin's Land'.

St Alouarn Isld
5.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after French navigator, François-Alesno de St Alouarn, who visited the area in 1772 in the French flûte Le Gros Ventre, before heading north up the west coast of Australia.

Flinders Bay
7.12.1801. Flinders. Named after Samuel Ward Flinders, 2nd lieutenant and Matthew Flinders' nephew.

Cape Beaufort
Thus named because Beaufort River enters the ocean here. The name recalls Admiral
Sir Francis Beaufort (1774 - 1857). At the tender age of 13, he began his nautical career as a cabin boy in the British Navy. Three years after going to sea, Francis Beaufort recognized the value of being weatherwise and began keeping a meteorological journal in the form of brief comments on the general weather scene, a practice he would continue until his death. At 22, he had risen to the rank of lieutenant, serving aboard H.M.S. Phaeton. In 1805, Beaufort was given his first command, H.M.S. Woolwich, and assigned to conduct a hydrographic survey of the Rio de la Plata region of South America. During these early years of command, he developed the first versions of his Wind Force Scale and Weather Notation coding, which he was to use in his journals for the remainder of his life. After a career at sea, in 1829, Beaufort was appointed Hydrographer to the Admiralty. From this post, he outlined the hydrographic studies for many British expeditions including that of H.M.S. Beagle, commanded by his protégé Robert Fitzroy. In 1838, Beaufort's Wind Force Scale was introduced for use by the British fleet for all log entries, joining his Weather Notation, which had been prescribed for use five years earlier. The Admiralty promoted Beaufort to Rear Admiral in 1846. Beaufort was bestowed the title Knight Commander of the Bath two years later. In 1855, after 68 years of service, Sir Francis retired from the Admiralty. Of his many achievements, Admiral Beaufort is remembered today most for the Wind Force Scale which now bears his name. The scale, which he conceived in 1805 and the British Navy adopted in 1838, however, underwent major changes in the 100 years following it initial adaptation.

Sandy Peak
7.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Pt D'Entrecasteaux
6.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after Expedition leader, Bruni D'Entrecasteaux (right).

Sandy Isld
7.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Ledge Isld
7.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

White Topped Rocks
7.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Broke Reefs
7.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Cliffy Hd
7.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Chatham Isld / Cape Chatham
26.9.1791. Vancouver. Named after Expedition tender, Chatham. Name recalls John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham (1756-1835), son of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, President of the Admiralty 1791-93.

Saddle Isld
26.9.1791. Vancouver. Descriptive (its shape).

Walpole Inlet
1831. Stirling. Named after Capt. William Walpole, with whom Stirling served on the Warspite in 1808.

Rocky Hd
26.9.1791. Vancouver. Descriptive.

Pt Irwin
1831. Stirling. Named after Frederick Chidley Irwin (1788 - 1860). He began his military career in 1808, seeing active service in Spain and Portugal, taking part in several of the major sieges, retreats and battles of the Peninsula War. In 1817/18 he was stationed in Canada and later in Ceylon. In June 1829 he arrived in the colony with a detachment of the 63rd Regiment per the "Sulphur". He acted as administrator of the colony in 1832 during Governor Stirling's absence, and was acting Governor of the Colony on the death of Lt. Col Andrew Clarke in 18467/8 until relieved by Capt. Charles Fitzgerald. He was promoted to Captain in late 1828, to Major in 1837 and to Lt. Col. in 1845. He retired from the army in 1854 and died in Cheltenham in 1860.

Fool Bay

Pt Hillier
8.12.1801. Flinders. Named after Comm. William Curry Hillier, RN. Commander in the Royal Navy in 1778.

William Bay
8.12.1801. Flinders. Named after Comm. William Curry Hillier, RN. Commander in the Royal Navy in 1778.

Wilson Hd / Wilson Inlet
December 1829. Named after Dr J B Wilson, who explored the area. Wilson named the river which flowed into it the Denmark in compliment to his friend Dr. Alexander Denmark R.N. a physician to the fleet. The town of Denmark was built on the inlet.

Knapp Hd
1831. Stirling. Possibly named after a surveyor in the Surveor General's Dept of NSW under Gov. Ralph Darling.

West Cape Howe (right)
27.9.1791. Vancouver. Named after Lord Howe of the Admiralty. Named Cape Howe by Vancouver, renamed West Cape Howe by Flinders to distinguish it from the cape thus named by Cook. Earl Richard Howe (1726-1799) was a British Admiral, the second son of Emmanuel Scope Howe, Governor of Barbados, and Mary Sophia Charlotte, daughter of the Baroness Kilmansegge, mistress of King George I, a relationship which does much to explain his early rise in the navy. He deservedly held many high positions, especially during the war in America and in England during the Navy rebellion.

Torbay Head / Torbay Bay
1831. Stirling. Named after Tor Bay on the coast of Devon, England. A Tor is an isolated mass of rock, usually granite.

Port Harding
31.7.1861. Gregory. Named after the Harding River. Recalls J Harding, a member of Gregory's exploration party.

Port Hughes

Stony Isld
28.08.1791 Vancouver. Descriptive.

Eclipse Isld
28.08.1791 Vancouver. Observed a solar eclipse here.

Maud Reef
Named after the schooner Maud.

Cave Point
28.08.1791 Vancouver. Descriptive.

Isthmus Bay
28.08.1791 Vancouver. Descriptive.

Bald Head
28.08.1791 Vancouver. Descriptive.

King George Sound (right)
28.9.1791 Vancouver. Orginally named King George the Third Sound after the reigning monarch.
King of Great Britain and Ireland 1760-1820, King of Hannover (1815-1820), born 4th June. Son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and grandson of George II, was educated under the care of his mother and her favourite counsellor, the Earl of Bute. He became insane in 1811 and was succeeded by the regency of the Prince of Wales (later King George IV (1762-1830).

Oyster Harbour
28.9.1791. Vancouver. An abundance of oysters found here when a row boat was being freed after having run aground on a sand bank.

Princess Royal Harbour
28.9.1791. Vancouver. Named after Princess Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Princess Royal, daughter of King George III, it being her birthday.

Frenchman Bay
5.1.1802. Flinders. Named after Bruni D'Entrecasteaux, leader of a French expedition which surveyed these shores, and anchored in the bay on 5.12.1792.

Pt Possession
29.9.1791. Vancouver. The place where Vancouver took possession of the area for King George III.

Michaelmas Isld
29.9.1791. Vancouver. Sighted on St Michaelas Day (29th September).

Bald Head / Bald Isld
5.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive. Bald Island was named Ile Pelée by D'Entrecasteaux, 5.12.1792.

Breaksea Isld
5.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Cape Vancouver
29.9.1791. Vancouver. Named after expedition leader, George Vancouver (1757-98) right. English navigator and explorer. He sailed on Capt. James Cook's second and third voyages. After 1780 he served under Admiral George Rodney in the West Indies, taking part in the great victory (1782) over Admiral de Grasse. In 1791, a commander, he set out for the northwest coast of America with a double mission - to take over the territory at Nootka Sound that had been assigned to England by the Nootka Convention and to explore and survey the N Pacific coast. Vancouver rounded the Cape of Good Hope, made new explorations on the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, and visited Tahiti and the Hawaiian Islands. He arrived at the northwest coast of America in 1792 and for three years (1792-94) explored and surveyed it. In the course of his journeys he circumnavigated the island now called Vancouver Island in his honor. After arriving (1795) in England again he began to prepare an account of his voyage for publication, a task not quite completed at his death. His brother, with the aid of Peter Puget, Vancouver's lieutenant, finished the book, which was published as A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean and round the World (3 vol. and an atlas, 1798, repr. 1968).

Two People Bay
10.2.1803. Baudin. Crew member Joseph Ransonnet, a junior midshipman and engineer, Geographe, met Amercian sealer James Singleton of the brig Union there.

North Pt
5.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Mermaid Pt
5.12.38. Wickham. cutter, Mermaid, sailed by Philip Parker King in 1819.

Hail Off Rock
5.1.1802. Descriptive of crew's activity there.

Ledge Pt
5.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Cape Riche
7.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after Claud Antoine Gaspard Riche (1762-92), naturalist, Le Recherche who got lost here for two days. D'Entrecasteaux's vessels anchored here for seven days, collecting specimens and exploring the neighbourhood, sampling oysters and sighting natives briefly. Riche managed to get lost ashore, and Labillardière had to plead with his Admiral for an extended search. Water running short and no water having been discovered at the Bay, D'Entrecasteaux wanted to leave as early as possible and held the opinion that the natives had killed Riche. Labillardière argued that under similar circumstances Captain Cook had lost and recovered a man on Christmas Island in December 1777. Eventually he obtained permission to continue the search and retrieved a hungry and thirsty Riche after an absence of more than 48 hours.

Cheyne Isld / Cheyne Bay
6.1.1849. Roe. Named after Mr & Mrs Cheyne, property owner at inlet who gave assistance to Roe and his party.

Groper Bluff
6.1.1849. Roe. Descriptive of the fish caught there.

Smooth Rocks
6.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Roe Rock
6.1.1849. Roe. Named after Expeditrion leader, John Septimus Roe (right).

Cape Knob
6.1.1802. Flinders. Its shape.

Dillon Bay

Pt Henry

Black Pt

Bremer Bay
6.1. 1849. Roe. Named after James John Gordon Bremer, captain, Tamar, under whom Roe served between 1824 and 1827. The town of Bremer Bay was originally named Wellstead in 1951 but locals petitioned to have the town renamed to what it was locally known as, this being Bremer Bay. The change of name was approved by the Minister for Lands and the new name gazetted in 1962.

Hood Pt / Hood Isld
20.10.1791. Vancouver. Named after Sir Samuel Hood (1752-1814), a British Vice-admiral, entered the Royal Navy in 1776. He took part in many battles and was promoted to his final position in 1805 after blockading the French port of Rochefort and defeating a small French squadron trying to escape. He died on 24.12. in Madras.

Doubtful Islds
7.12.1992. D'Entrecasteaux. Originally named Douteuse Islds (Doubtful, French) in view of the connecting of the northernmost being uncertain.

Tori Isld
7.12.1992. D'Entrecasteaux. Originally named Douteuse Isld.

Doubtful Bay
7.12.1992. D'Entrecasteaux. Originally named Douteuse Bay.

Fishery Cove
A fishery once existed there.

Gordon Inlet
31.12.1848. Roe. Named after Gordon Gairdner, Senior Clerk, Australian and Eastern Departments of the Colonial Office, London

Pt Ann

Pt Charles / Fitzgerald Inlet
31.12.1848. Roe. Named after Charles Fitzgerald, Governor of Western Australia.

Dempsters Inlet
Named after the Dempster brothers, the first European settlers in the area, who took up a grazing lease of 304,000 acres in 1863.

Red Islet
24.12.1848. Roe. The colour of the rocks here.

Quoin Head
24.12.1848. Roe. Its shape.

Culham Inlet
22.12.1848. Roe. Named after an expedition member.

Mary Ann Haven
22.12.1848. Roe. Named after the Cutter, Mary Ann.

West Isld / West Group
14.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Most westerly islands of the Recherche Group.

Black Rock
20.12.1848. Roe. Descriptive.

Bedford Harbour

Lake Shaster

Margaret Cove

Stokes Inlet
18.12.1848. Roe. Named after Explorer John Lort Stokes.

Shoal Cape
18.12.1848. Roe. Descriptive.

Fanny Cove

Red Isld
16.12.1848. Roe. Descriptive of the colour of the rocks.

Barker Inlet
16.12.1848. Roe. Named after Capt. Collett Barker of the 39th Regiment and Commandant at King George Sound. Captain Barker was killed by Aborigines at the mouth of the Murray River, South Australia in 1831.

Butty Head / Butty Cove
16.12.1848. Roe. Descriptive.

Waterwitch Rocks
Eyre's westward journey accross the Australian continent began at Streaky Bay on 3rd November 1841. The sailing cutter Waterwitch supplied Eyre and his party with support and supplies here.

Recherche Archipelago (right)
16.12.1792. Named after the expedition vessel, Recherche (Research, French), which was repaired in the lee of Observation Island. The archipelago was originally named by D'Entrecasteaux as D'Entrecasteaux Islands, but was later changed.

Observatory Isld
10.1.1802. D'Entrecasteaux. An observation of the heavens made here by the astronomers of the Recherche and Esperance.

Giant Rocks
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Descriptive.

Causeway Channel
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named Le Chaussée (The Causeway Channel) as it was the main passageway through the archipelago.

Esperance Bay
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after the expedition vessel L'Esperance repaired there.

Canning Isld
15.12.1848. Roe. Named after George Canning (right), the Prime Minister of England in 1827 who instigated the expedition of 1824 by James Stirling to examine the west coast of Australia for a suitable site for a colony.

Charley Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders. Possibly named after the boatswain, Charles Douglas, who died during the voyage.

Gull Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders.

Black Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Woody Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Thomas Isld
16.12.1792. Flinders. Possibly named after Master's Mate, Thomas Evans.

Gunton Isld
16.12.1792. Flinders.

Sandy Hook Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Long Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Henry Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders.

Remark Isld
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named Ile de Remarque (Remarkable Island) as it consists of a remarkable long reef of rocks extending out from Cape Le Grande.

Corbett Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders.

Day Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders.

Howe Isld
11.1.1802. Flinders. Named after Lord Howe, First Lord of the Admiralty.

Cape Le Grande
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after Ensign Jacques-Bertrand le Grand (1763-1798) (and later Lieutenant and Captain) of the 1791-1793 d'Entrecasteaux expedition vessel, L'Esperance, who bravely scaled the mast during a severe storm, guiding the two vessels Espérance and Recherche through the reefs safely into Esperance Bay.

Frederick Isld
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux.

Wilson Isld
16.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux.

Round Isld
9.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Ram Isld

Rasco Isld

Hope Isld

Hastings Isld

Thistle Cove (right)
10.12.1801. Flinders. Named after John Thistle, master of Investigator, the cove's discoverer. Thistle drowned ten weeks later at Cape Catastrophe. Flinders said of him: "Mr.Thistle was truly a valuable man, as a seaman, an officer, and a good member of society. I had known him, and we had mostly served together, from the year 1794. He had been with Mr. Bass in his perilous expedition in the whale boat, and with me in the voyage around Van Diemen's Land, and in the succeeding expedition to Glass-house Bayand Hervey's Bay. From his merit and prudent conduct, he was promoted from before the mast to be a midshipman, and afterwards a master in his Majesty's service. His zeal for discovery had induced him to join the Investigator when at Spithead and ready to sail, although he had returned to England only three weeks before, after an absence of six years. Besides performing assiduously the duties of his situation, Mr. Thistle made himself well acquainted with the practice of nautical astronomy, and began to be very useful in the surveying department. His loss was severely felt by me; and he was lamented by all on board, more especially by his messmates, who knew more intimately the goodness and stability of his disposition."

La Perouse Rock
22.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after French navigator,
Jean-Francois de Galaup Compte de La Perouse who D'Entrecasteaux was searching for.

Twin Rocks
10.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Brown Reef
10.12.1801. Flinders. Named after expedition naturalist, Robert Brown.

Little Isld
11.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive of its size.

Termination Isld
21.10.1791. Vancouver. Place where Vancouver terminated his survey of this coast.

Tory Isld
11.12.1801. Flinders.

Finger Isld
11.12.1801. Flinders. Descriptive of its shape.

Mondrain Isld
22.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after Pierre Mondrain, midshipman, Recherche.

Hugo Isld

Dicken Reef

Pearson Isld

Draper Isld

York Isld

Marts Isld

Beaumont Isld

Sulphur Reefs

Lucky Bay (right)
9.12.1801. Flinders. Flinders sheltered from a storm here, hence its name. It was lucky for explorer Edward John Eyre, also, during his exploratory expedition from east to west in 1841. It was in this bay that explorer Eyre and his Aboiriginal companion Wylie were saved from starvation by English Captain Rossiter and crew of the French whaler Mississippi.

Ben Isld

Taylor Isld
9.12.1801. Flinders. Named after William Taylor, a young midshipman who was lost in a boating accident at Cape Catastophe 10 weeks later. It was customary to name coastal features after the person who first sighted them, therefore it could be assumed this is why Taylor Island was thus named.

Cap Isld
9.12.1801. Flinders. its shape.

Rossiter Bay
June 1841. Eyre. Named after Capt Rossiter, commander of the French whaler Mississippi, who provided him with supplies and a well deserved rest during his epic trek across the Nullarbor Plain.

Mississippi Bay / Isld
Named after the French whaler Mississippi, commanded by Captain Rossiter. The crew of the Mississippi set had set up a temporary camp here when explorer Edward John Eyre came upon them during his epic trek across the Nullarbor. According to Eyre in his journal, the whalers had planted a garden and were cultivating peas and potatoes that appeared to be growing well.

Free Isld
Believed to be the island referred to by explorer Edward John Eyre in his journal of 3.6.1841: "After dinner I went with the Captain (Rossiter) to visit an island near, upon which he kept his live stock, such as pigs, sheep, and tortoises; the two latter had been procured from the west side of the island of Madagascar; the sheep were strange looking animals, more like goats than sheep, of all colours, and with fat tails, like the Cape sheep. Their cost at Madagascar had been a tumbler full of powder a piece; a bullock would have cost ten bottles full, and other things could have been procured at proportionable prices."

Cornwall Isld

Hammerhead Isld
10.4.1838. Its shape.

Duke of Orleans Bay (right)
Relates to the French whaler Mississippi, the crew of which set up a temporary camp in the vicinity.

North Twin Peak
10.4.1838. Its shape.

Tagon Bay
Possibly derived from an old German word meaning 'day'.

Slipper Isld

Wedge Isld
10.4.1838. Its shape.

Combe Isld

Manicom Isld

Recherche Rock
22.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named after the expedition vessel, Recherche.

Pt Jedacorrudup
Of Aboriginal origin, possible from the local tribe.

Cape Arid
23.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Its appearance.

Arid Isld
23.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Its proximity to Cape Arid.

Goose Isld
15.1.1802. Flinders. Nine barnacle geese were killed here in the grass, mostly with sticks; and sixteen more were procured in the course of the day.

Gluch Isld

Miles Isld

Middle Isld
22.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named Ile du Milieu (middle, French) because if its location in the Recherche Archipelago.

Douglas Isld
17.5.1803. Flinders. Named after Chales Douglas, boatswain, Investigator.

Gardner Rock

Dome Isld
17.1.1802. Flinders. Its shape.

Penguin Rock
17.1.1802. Flinders. Many blue penguins seen here.

Sandy Bight
17.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Cape Pasley
17.1.1802. Flinders. Named after Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley, under whom Flinders began service in Royal Navy.

Cooper Isld

South East Isles
23.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Its location in the Recherche Group.

Salisbury Isld

Round Isld
17.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Bellinger Isld

Pt Dempster
Named after the Dempster brothers, the first European settlers in the area, who took up a grazing lease of 304,000 acres in 1863.

Eastern Group
24.12.1792. D'Entrecasteaux. Named for their location in the Recherche Group.

Baxter Cliffs
Named after John Baxter, personal friend and partner of Edward John Eyre during his crossing of the Nullabor in 1841. Baxter was killed by two Aboriginal guides who took most of the remaining supplies and guns. Eyre and Wylie, another Aborigines, continued alone.

Toolina Cove
Aboriginal name for the cove and a rockhole in the Balladonia area.

Israelite Bay
Site of a now abandoned overland telegraph station (right), built in 1877. It was abandoned in 1927. Prior to becoming the first permanent European residents of Esperance, members of the Dempster family were exploring for good grazing country in that vicinity. Part of their diary entry for the 14th June 1863 reads "A bay named Israelite Bay in honour of the blacks. They were of the Dadjunna tribe. Norman Tindale's book, Aboriginal Tribes of Australia, states "... the European name of Israelite Bay is a geographic label witness to this being the boundary between those who did and did not practice circumcision at the time of the naming of the country by Westerners."

Pt Malcolm
17.1.1801. Flinders. Named after Capt. Putney Malcolm, RN

Pt Culver
180218.1.1802. Flinders. Resembled Culver Cliffs off the Isle of Wight

Pt Dover
19.1.1802. Flinders. Resembled coast of Dover, England.

Twilight Cove

Scorpion Bight


Bunda Cliffs
R. Tate. Bunda is a word of Aboriginal origin meaning rocks.

Red Point Rock
18.1.1802. Flinders. Descriptive.

Wilson Bluff
E.A. Delisser. Named after Professor Wilson of Victoria.

Twin Rocks
18.1.1801. Flinders. Descriptive.

Head of the Bight (right)
18.1.1801. Flinders. Its location at the head of the Gt Australian Bight. Flinders named the bight, the name being a nautical term for a loop of rope.