Place Names Register Extract

Arafura Sea

Extract date: 26/01/2022

Name Arafura Sea
Type Designation Sea
Place Id 10395
Place Type Feature
Status Recorded
Date Registered
Location (Datum GDA94)  
Latitude: -11° 02' S (Decimal degrees -11.045)
Longitude: 135° 02' E (Decimal degrees 135.0377)
Locality / Suburb  
  Cobourg
  East Arnhem
  West Arnhem
Local Government Area  
 
History/Origin The Arafura Sea is the name of the sea abutting the north coast of the Northern Territory between Cape Don and Cape Arnhem. The name first appeared in use in GW Earl's 1837 "Sailing Directions for the Arafura" in which he compiled translations from earlier Dutch mariner explorations.

It has been suggested that the name Arafura is of Portuguese origin, being the corruption of the word "Alfours" meaning "free men", but recent research at the Dutch National Archives has revealed AJ van der Aa's 1939 Toponymic Dictionary records "the inhabitants of the Moluccas called themselves "haraforas", translating "Anak anak gunung" as "children of the mountains"."

The Arafura Sea name is therefore from the indigenous name for "the people of mountains" in the Moluccas (part of Indonesia) as identified by Dutch Lieutenants Kolff and Modera in the 1830's.

Register & Gazettal information

Date Gazettal Comment
  (None Found)  

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GPO Box 1680, Darwin NT 0801. Ph 08 8995 5333.
place.names@nt.gov.au

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