An acquaintance last weekend with a pleasing bottle of pinot got me thinking about how evocative and meaningful place names can be, reminders of people and places we’d like to go back to. The vintage in question was a pinot noir called Storm Bay, made of course from Tasmanian grapes. Reg and I, having both sailed past that exact spot on the South East corner of Tasmania numerous times, had to pass over less imaginatively named (and priced) wines on the list and have a taste. Funnily enough my memory of the place and the taste of the wine, whilst both wonderful, were a bit mismatched; the wine being refreshing and light, and the place more wild and windswept, perhaps more suited to a boisterous shiraz!
Making his way along uncharted waters along the coast of Australia, Captain Cook and his crew must have had a lot of fun coming up with suitable names for the bays, headlands, landmarks and hazards they encountered. Whilst many tell a story about the voyage itself, others just state the blinding obvious. I imagine for Aboriginal people these names seemed superfluous given most of these places had names with significant meaning already. For me they are reminders of my travels and the people I shared them with. Here are a few of my favourite location names on nautical charts:
“Remarkable Bare Green Patch” which is indeed a remarkably bare patch of grass on the cliffs near Diamond Head on the northern coast of New South Wales. It reminds me of a Sydney to Southport race when we were becalmed and had time on our hands to ponder the origins of names on a chart.
“The Wrigglers” a group of rocks not far from the Lizard Point in Cornwall. This is a favourite just because it sounds silly and makes me think of home and the Cornish tendency for unusual place names (think Mevagissey and Ventongimps).
“Sow and Pigs” on Sydney Harbour, because, well it really is a pig if you hit this one!
“The Iron Pot”, a landmark hailing from Hobart’s whaling days which stands at the entrance to the Derwent River in Tasmania, signalling the end of a cold wet voyage and the vicinity of a well earned and welcome rum!
What’s your favourite place name (nautical or not) and what does it remind you of?