News, Culture & Society

Australian cities and towns with names hard to pronounce

The place names Australians can’t say correctly – from Launceston to Reservoir – and the correct pronunciations may surprise you

  • Australian towns are renowned for being hard to spell and harder to say 
  • Some are so difficult to pronounce correctly even locals get it wrong 
  • News reporters and politicians are even guilty of mispronouncing our regions
  • Which Aussie tongue twister locations on the list can you get right?

For most travelers brave enough to embark on the journey Down Under, it’s common to be anxious about the obvious risks that come with the territory – think snakes, spiders, sharks, sunburn and men wearing an Akubra with a dislike of back packers.  

Yet, as American expat Kaymie Wuerfel fast discovered after landing in the land of Oz, it’s sometimes the less apparent dangers that throw visitors for a six. 

Mrs Wuerfel revealed in a TikTok video, which has racked up more than a million views, that the local language can be as difficult to navigate as Uluru without Siri. 

Queensland’s Mudgeeraba is pronounced ‘mug-ra-bar’ and scores highly on the list of our most difficult to say Aussie towns

From understanding the meaning of a ‘mullet’ to discovering that the liberal use of the C-word is in fact perfectly acceptable to include in a regular yarn, it appears the Aussie language can be harder to understand than a drunk ocker at the local pub.

But it’s not just our every day lingo and penchant for tacking a random ‘o’ onto a word at any given opportunity (e.g ‘Rob-o’,  ‘serv-o’, ‘bottle-o’) that poses serious linguistic potholes.

Far North Queensland's town of Cairns is easy remember, pronounced  simply as 'Cans'

Far North Queensland’s town of Cairns is easy remember, pronounced  simply as ‘Cans’

For visitors and residents, it’s the names and pronunciation of our Aussie cities and towns where we all seem to come a cropper.

From news reporters to polis alike, even seasoned professionals with the ‘gift-of the gab’ are guilty of making some serious faux pas when trying to pronounce such doozies as Woolloomooloo, Goonoo Goonoo and Moombooldool. 

Australia's National Territory of Canberra is often mispronounced yet is simply 'Can-bra'

Australia’s National Territory of Canberra is often mispronounced yet is simply ‘Can-bra’

Although one could argue until the Maitland cows come home that saying the name of an Aussie town wrong is largely six of one, half a dozen of the other, it’s clear the issue is of importance given things could go south very easily when discussing  Cockburn (ahem, it’s Coh-burn) in polite conversation. 

Let’s face it, if us Aussies are getting it wrong, the rest of the world has Buckle’s chance of navigating where we’re at. Literally. 

The Daily Mail has compiled a list of the most commonly mispronounced places in ‘Strayla (pronounced Australia).  

New South Wales' suburb of Woolloomooloo proves to be a common tongue-twister pronounced as 'Wull-uh-muh-loo'

New South Wales’ suburb of Woolloomooloo proves to be a common tongue-twister pronounced as ‘Wull-uh-muh-loo’

The list of top mispronounced towns and their correct pronunciations includes –

Mudgeeraba: Mug-ra-bar  

Cairns: Cans

Canberra: Can-bra

Woolloomooloo: Wull-uh-muh-loo

Launceston: Lon-ces-ton

Reservoir: Reh·zuhv·waa

Wagga Wagga: Wooga Wooga  

Bathurst: Bath-est    

Wollombi: Wol-lum-bye

Brewarrina: Brew-ar-een

Goonoo Goonoo: Gunna g’noo

Walcha: Wol-ka  

Moombooldool: Mum-bool-dool

Ballan: Ba-laan

Moe: Mow-ee

Beaconsfield: Bec-kons-field

Lalor: Law-ler

Geelong: J’long

Creswick: Crez-zick 

Manuka: Marn-ukka

Fairbairn: Fair-burn

Kata Tjuta: Kah-tah choor-ta

Ubirr: O-beer-ee.

Quorn: Kworn.

Gumeracha: Gum-er-ack-ah

Pooraka: P’rak-uh

Mallala: Mal-uh-lar

Wudinna: Wood-na