So if you found a house you loved, in an area you liked, would the suburb’s name bother you - even if it was rather unfortunate? What if it was Watanobbi?
You may think a name doesn’t matter, but it clearly matters to quite a lot of residents from various places who have unsuccessfully tried to have the name of their suburb changed. Opinions on how much a suburb name affects housing prices varies. While good properties should never be sneezed at, agents still concede than an off-putting suburb name can be, well, off-putting to some buyers.
Two years ago, the residents of Sydney suburb Harbord successfully petitioned to have the name of their suburb changed to Freshwater which they though suited the seaside locale more. Local agents now feel that the name change was positive and probably gave the suburb a little more pizazz.
Here are some of Australia’s most colourfully dubbed suburbs. The odd names clearly didn’t affect some of the house prices!
This suburb on the NSW Central Coast holds dubious distinction of being voted “Australia’s most unfortunate region name” in a 2012 global poll. The origins of the name are vague with several explanations: an Aboriginal name for “hills surrounded by water”, corruption of the Japanese name Watanabe, and a comment by an early landowner about the “nobby” shape of the terrain. Landowners, sick of rude jokes, tried unsuccessfully to change the name to Chapman Gardens in 2002.
Median house price: $459,000.
Before European settlement, this fancy seaside suburb was a rich source of food for local Aboriginal people, abundant with kangaroos, wallabies and fish. Unfortunately, it was also abundant with rotting seaweed. Given the ghastly stench, the Aboriginal people dubbed it “Koojah” which means “stinking place” or “bad smell’. When white settlers arrived they liked the name and anglicised it to Coogee – without asking what it actually meant.
Median house price: $2.6 million.
Originally dubbed the equally unfathomable Njookenbooroo, in 1927 the local progress association searched for an alternate name for this Perth suburb. The name of an Aboriginal women from Dongara was chosen, providing endless fodder for comedians ever since. Numerous attempts by residents to have the name changed have failed.
Median house price: $570,000.
Rooty Hill, NSW
Christened after a hill that featured several tree roots on Norfolk Island, the seemingly innocent name of this Western Sydney suburb once drew little comment. But oh how times have changed.
Median house price: $660,000.
Humpty Doo, NT
This town just outside of Darwin is thought to be named after a station called Umpity Doo. However, it also might be derived from a colloquialism to describe "everything done wrong or upside down".
Median house price: $585,000.
No, it’s not a tribute to the face mask of menacing criminals. Balaclava in Melbourne was actually named after the Battle of Balaclava that took place during the Crimean War.
Median house price: $1.13 million.
This northern Sydney suburb pays homage to three farmers who initially settled there who all decided to learn the violin. As news of the musical troupe spread, the area was jokingly dubbed Fiddletown and soon stuck. Fed up with the nudge nudge wink wink element, in 2003 residents tried to combine the area with their decidedly more upmarket sounding neighbours of Arcadia but were overturned.
Median house price: $1.9 million.