German Place Names

South Australia

World War I

Maureen M Leadbeater
During World War I anti-German feeling ran high in South Australia. Despite the Lutheran communities pledging support for the British Crown and those of German descent contributing to the Wounded Soldiers Fund, "Germans" were victimised. It mattered not if the German-born were naturalised or if an Australian-born were a third generation born in Australia.

The German newspaper, schools and clubs were closed. Many, particularly community leaders, were interned, at first on Torrens Island and later in New South Wales. Some internees had sons serving with the Australian Army and many of these were casualties of the war. Other "Germans" lost their jobs, leaving their families in financial difficulties. Hermann Robert Homburg, born 1874 in Norwood to a father who had arrived 20 years earlier, was forced to resign - and he was the Attorney-General!

By 1917 the anti-German frenzy had spread to German place names. A Nomenclature Committee was set up to make recommendations for changes from names of "foreign enemy origin" to British or South Australian native names. Some suggested names were altered by the Government. The Nomenclature Act was passed in late 1917 and the final list of sixty-nine South Australian place name changes were gazetted in January 1918. Some names were translations into English, eg Steinfeld to Stonefield, Bethanien to Bethany. Others were given an aboriginal name, eg Friedrichswalde to Tarnma, Mount Ferdinand to Mount Warrabillinna. Other names commemorated the battles in France eg Verdun, Polygon Ridge, Jutland, or the names of Australian military leaders, eg Haig, Allenby, Jellicoe.

Yet the committee overlooked some German names. The capital city, Adelaide, had been named for the German-born wife of King William IV. Gnadenfrei was not listed in the Nomenclature Act. However in 1918 when a new school was to be built at Gnadenfrei, the local residents on the school committee decided that it should be known in future as Marananga. The name change was published in the July 1918 Education Gazette. Sedan was noted at the time as the name of a German victory in the 1870 War. However a newspaper correspondent explained that it commemorated the French defeat rather than the German victory!

Hahndorf, which had been changed to Ambleside, reverted to its original name in 1935. So it is possible that someone, according to the official records, was born and died in Hahndorf and married in Ambleside without changing his residence! Other place names were changed back in 1975 and 1986. Some of these places have been "swallowed" by nearby suburbs.

It is pleasing to note that in 1971 the Hundred of Bockelberg was proclaimed on Eyre Peninsula. George Baron Bockelberg, MP, was the Australian-born son of a German colonist, Fedor Baron Bockelberg. Another son, Felix Baron Bockelberg, was killed in action 3-5-1918 at Es Salt, Palestine. The naming is a step towards recognising and honouring the German settlers who contributed so much to South Australia and the nation.

There were also German place names changed in other states. The following is a list of the South Australian changes during WWI with the location and later changes noted. A date only in the later changes indicates when the placename reverted to its former German name.

Former nameNew nameLocationLater changes
Bartsch's CreekYedlakoo Creeksouth of Lake EyreBartsch Creek 1986
Basedow, Hd ofFrench, Hd ofnorth-east of Hawker
Bauer, CapeWondoma, Capenear Streaky Bay1948
Berlin RockPanpandie Rockoff Louth Bay, Eyre Pen
BethanienBethanysouth-east of Tanunda
BismarckWeeroopanow part of Brooklyn Park
BlumbergBirdwoodAdelaide Hills
BlumenthalLakkariHundred of Mudla Wirra
BuchfeldeLoosnear Gawler River, Ad Plains
CarlsruheKundennear Waterloo, N of Kapunda
EhrenbreitsteinMount Yerilawest of Lake Callabonna
Ferdinand CreekErnabella CreekMusgrave Ranges
FriedrichstadtTangariHundred of Kuitpo
FriedrichswaldeTarnmanorth of Kapunda
Gebhardt's HillsPolygon Ridgenorth of CadellGebhardt Hills 1986
German CreekBenara Creekwest of Mount Gambier1986
German PassTappa Passeast of Angaston
Germantown HillVimy Ridgese of Bridgewater
Gottlieb's WellParnggi Wellsouth of Terowie
GrunbergKaraltanorth-east of AngastonGruenberg 1975
GrunthalVerdunnear Hahndorf
HahndorfAmblesideAdelaide Hills1935
Hasse's MoundLarelar Moundnorth-east of Leigh Ck
HeidelbergKobandillanow part of Klemzig
Hergott SpringsMarreeFar-North
HildesheimPuntharinorth of Mannum
HoffnungsthalKarrawirranear Lyndoch1975
Homburg, Hd ofHaig, Hundred ofnw of Cummins
JaenschtownKerkanyapart of Murray Bridge
KaiserstuhlMount Kitchenerse of Tanunda
KlaebesKiltoeast of Burra
KlemzigGazaon R Torrens ne of Adelaide1935
Krause RockMarti Rocksw Pt Drummond nr Coffin B
KrichauffBeattybetween Eudunda & MorganMount Mary 1940
Krichauff, Hd ofBeatty, Hundred ofbetween Eudunda & Morgan
KronsdorfKabminyesouth of TanundaKrondorf 1975
LangdorfKaldukeenear Tanunda
LangmeilBilyarasuburb of Tanunda1975
LobethalTweedvaleAdelaide Hills1935
Meyer, MountMount Kautoeast of Lake Eyre
Mt FerdinandMt WarrabillinnaMusgrave Ranges
Muller's HillYandina Hillnear Copley
NeudorfMamburdinorth-west of Lobethal1986
NeukirchDimchurchnorth-east of Nuriootpa1975
New HamburgWillyaroosouth of Strathalbyn
New MecklenburgGomersalsw of Tanunda
OliventhalOlivedalepart of Birdwood
Paech, Hundred ofCannawigra, Hd ofeast of Keith
Pflaum, Hundred ofGeegeela, Hd ofne of Naracoorte
Rhine (North), Hd ofJellicoe, Hd ofnear Keyneton
Rhine (South), Hd ofJutland, Hd ofnear Springton
Rhine HillMonswest of Sedan
Rhine ParkKongoliaeast of Cambrai
Rhine River NthThe SommeKeyneton, into R MarneSomme Ck 1971
Rhine River SthThe MarneEden Vy-Cambrai, to R MryMarne R 1971
Rhine VillaCambraisouth of Sedan
RosenthalRosedalenorth-east of Gawler
Scherk, Hundred ofSturdee, Hd ofCounty Hopetoun, W Coast
SchoenthalBoongalaeast of Lobethal1986
Schomburgk, Hd ofMaude, Hundred ofbetween Burra & Morgan
SchreiberhauWarrenear TanundaSchreiberau 1975
SeppeltsDorriensouth of Nuriootpa
SiegersdorfBultawiltanorth of Tanunda1975
SteinfeldStonefieldnorth-east of Truro1986
SummerfeldtSummerfieldsouth-west of Mannum
Vogelsang's CornerTeerkoorenear RobertstownVogelsang Cnr 1986
von Doussa, Hd ofAllenby, Hd ofsouth-west of Lameroo
Wusser's NobKarun Nobnear Leigh CreekWusser Nob 1983


SA Government Gazette, 10 January 1918
Various atlases and gazetteers

Early South Australia history timeline