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a dog standing on top of a grass covered field

With new penguins arriving at the Centre we know just how important it is to get a name right. Which is why we appreciate the ‘journey’ the continent took before finally settling on a name in the late 19th century.

To put it simply, Antarctica used to be called Australia. Then, in 1824, today’s Australia took the name, leaving the icy continent essentially without a ‘proper’ name until the 1890s.

Now, before everyone starts jumping in with references to the founding of Australia and it’s original inhabitants moral standings, it pays to know that history is not ‘simple’. The actual circumstances of the name merry-go-round are decidedly more complex.

‘Antarctica-Australia’ was originally called Australia because it was believed to be part of the legendary ‘Terra Australis’ continent. When the powers that be wanted a change from ‘New Holland’ they chose Australia, taking the name from what was widely thought to be a mythic southern continent.

In the time between 1824 and the final name choice, Antarctica was known as ‘the Antarctic Continent’, with suggestions of Ultima and Antipodea also gaining traction for some time. Then some boffin in the 1890s came up with adding the extra ‘a’ and the rest is history…