The first time I drove past a sign to Tumbulgum, I reckon I did what any non-local would do – I mispronounced it. Yep – I got it totally wrong because it isn’t how it seems.
There are a lot of places down here in Australia with names you can’t pronounce. The first time I saw the name ‘Indooroopilly’, I almost packed my bags and moved back to New South Wales, from whence I’d just come.
How was I going to live in a state where I couldn’t even say the name of neighbouring towns? I mean, really?
But like everything, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy.
Let me introduce you to some of our Aussie slang.
We have a habit of shortening anything that seems like an effort to say.
- Ambulance Driver = Ambo
- Tea Break = Smoko
- Garbage Collection Driver = Garbo
- Avocado = Avo
And just when you think you’ve got this – we change the ending.
- Motor-bike Rider =
- Brick-layer =
- Fire-fighter =
- Barbecue = Barbie
Then there’s Maccas = McDonalds – of the fast food variety.
And when I lived out in Central Queensland, the town of Woorabinda was simply Woori.
Mullumbimby is shortened to Mullum.
Well, that one was easy.
So you see, there’s absolutely no rhyme or reason to sorting out our language. All you need to know is: if it can be shortened – it will be shortened.
And that goes for people’s names as well. Oh, unless you have red hair – then you’ll be called Blue.
Wait, is that even politically correct anymore? Probably not – but it was certainly the case when I was young.
Let’s get back to those place names.
As it turns out, Indooroopilly hasn’t been shortened – as far as I know – but it is shortened in the way you say it. Instead of sounding out all the oo’s, you kind of just leave them out altogether. So it ends up sounding like ‘Indrupilly’ (using the short vowel -u- sound like hum).
And now, let’s get back to Tumbulgum. Nope – it isn’t like Tumbul-gum. It’s more like Tm-bol-gm – you kind of run the t and m and the g and m together. And the first u becomes an o sound – as in r-o-c-k
Actually, it doesn’t matter how you pronounce Tumbulgum, as long as you go there. It is a spectacularly beautiful little place.
That’s Mt Warning (Wollumbin) in the background. Rumour has it that Mt Warning is the first place in Australia the sun shines on every day.
And since my house is just a short drive from Mt Warning and Tumbulgum, I guess you can see why I love living in Murwillumbah.
I’ll say no more…..