Scottish Place Names
- Canberra, Australia

Of the names of the 132 suburbs in the Canberra-Queanbeyan area, 48 (36.4%) refer either to place names that can be found in Scotland or to Scottish family names. Of course, some of the names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but at least 27 (20.5%) of these appear to be uniquely Scottish.

Canberra is a planned city, created in the early twentieth century as the capital of the newly federated Commonwealth of Australia. A few of its suburbs have names that were already in common usage before the city was founded, for example, the names of homesteads or early settlers. However, the vast majority of Canberra's suburban names honour Australian politicians, explorers and cultural or sporting personalities. The Scottish-related names are therefore a comment on the Scottish diaspora across Australia as a whole and should not be interpreted as referring to Scottish settlement of Canberra itself. The proportion of place names in Canberra that have a Scottish connection appears to be the second highest of any major city in the world outside Scotland - exceeded only by Dunedin in New Zealand. This reflects the sizeable number of Australian explorers, politicians, colonial administrators and other famous people who were either born in Scotland or whose roots were Scottish.

The picture above is of the Old and New Parliament Houses in Canberra is via Wikipedia.

Official suburbs and other localities with names that are definitely or most probably of Scottish origin, whether directly or indirectly, are:

Some of the following suburbs and neighbourhoods are also likely to have a direct or indirect Scottish connection, but these names are associated with other parts of the British Isles as well:

A final category of suburban names comprises places that can be found in Scotland, or Scottish family names, but which, in Canberra's case, definitely or most probably have no connection with Scotland.

Although not evident from its name, Oaks Estate has an indirect connection with Scotland. Oaks Estate is derived from 'The Oaks', the name of an out-station on Robert Campbell's property 'Duntroon', built in 1836. Belconnen is another name that has a Scottish ring to it, but the origin of the name is not clear. According to the ACT Planning and Land Authority, Belconnen was the name of a land grant made in 1837 to the explorer Captain Charles Sturt.

Other evidence of Scottish links with Canberra can be found in the names of geographical features in the area. Parklands and reserves with Scottish-sounding names include Fadden Pine Plantation, Lennox Gardens, McQuoids Hill Nature Reserve, Rob Roy Nature Reserve and Stirling Park. Hills and mountains include Davidson, Donald, Melrose, Mount Ainslie, Mount Rob Roy and Walker.


  • ACT Government (1992). Canberra's Suburb and Street Names (Department of the Environment, Land and Planning, Canberra).
  • ACT Planning and Land Authority - Origins of Street and Suburb Names (
  • Australian Dictionary of Biography - Online Edition.
  • Black, George F. (1996). The Surnames of Scotland (Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh).
  • Canberra City and Suburbs (Gregory's Touring Map, 2005).
  • Canberra Suburbs (Wilkins Tourist Maps, 2000).
  • The House of Names Heraldic website.
  • Kennedy, Brian and Kennedy, Barbara (2006). Australian Place Names. (ABC Books, Sydney).
  • Reed, A.W. (1973). Place Names of Australia (A.H. & A.W. Reed, Sydney).
  • Scarlett, James D. (1975). The Tartans of the Scottish Clans. (Collins, Glasgow and London).
  • Wikipedia- for biographies of famous Australians.
  • Websites, place name gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.

    © Ian Kendall
    Melbourne, Australia, March 2005
    Revised August 2007

    If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is

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