WHO knew Coppernook was a “small weatherboard cottage attached to a country police station”, Pimpinbudgie was another word for “celebrity agent” and Damboring was a descriptor for “any TV program fronted by a former presenter of Top Gear”? Well, not really – but with Australia Day looming it’s fun to speculate on the potential alter-meanings of some of this country’s weird and wonderful placenames.
Presented as a traditional dictionary with entries organised alphabetically and cross-referenced, Skewiff takes an irreverent, tongue-in-cheek look at the monikers of 200-plus Australian cities, towns and hamlets.
For anyone who has ever doubled over with laughter while scanning a New Zealand roadmap or been crippled by schoolyard giggles during a flick-through of a guide to Wales, this pocket-sized publication is a homegrown geo-comedic treat.
Authors Dicky Beach and Alice Springs – perhaps not their true identities, one suspects – have scoured all eight states and territories for localities to which to assign hilarious back-stories.
Quambatook is defined as the “past tense of the verb ‘quambatake’, meaning to surreptitiously scan the office fridge and grab something more appetising than one’s own leftover fried rice from three nights back”. Watanobbi is said to be anyone “who posts stupid pictures on Facebook as if we’re all interested” and Leeka is a “male person standing awkwardly by an alley wall at 3am”. Moyhu is “blame attributed by a self-obsessed partner to justify the dissolution of a relationship – viz: ‘It’s moyhu than me.’” And sports supporters are not forgotten, Dismal Swamp being a “gathering place for Richmond Football Club fans in early September”.
The genius of this small book is due in no small part to the fact a remarkable number of communities have been saddled with Anglicised gross-misinterpretations of Aboriginal words, highlighting the often-humorous lack of understanding that accompanied exploration two centuries ago.