Australia isn’t just the land of Bluey, Hugh Jackman, and the Hemsworth brothers, it’s also a stunning country that’s home to more than 25 million people. But it also has a complicated history. For thousands of years, the indigenous people of Australia were its sole caretakers, but in the late 18th century, the United Kingdom established the country as a penal colony for convicts from Great Britain. As a result, many common Australian last names are English, Scottish, and Irish in origin.
From the 18th century on, Australia became more and more Westernized. This in turn led to Aboriginal Australians becoming increasingly marginalized in their own country. Again, this is reflected in the list of the continent’s most common last names. Because the English either assigned the Aboriginal people surnames or simply referred to them by first names only in records, much of the culture was lost, at least in terms of documentation.
However, modern-day Australia is still a vibrant melting pot of cultures. In addition to the English settlers and Aboriginal people, the continent also has a large Asian Australian population consisting of people who trace their ancestry back to China, India, Vietnam, and other Asian countries. While Chinese people were already immigrating to Australia in the early 1800s, many Asian Australians can trace their ancestors’ arrival to the Victorian gold rushes, which occurred from the 1850s to the 1860s.
These days, Australia is a unique country where class systems are deemphasized in favor of a belief that everyone deserves a fair shot at having a good life. Part of this philosophy stems from the country’s history as a penal colony, but it’s also just a reflection of the Australian people themselves. At its heart, Australia is a place where multiculturalism is largely embraced, and that reality is reflected both in its changing demographics and in the most common Australian last names you’re likely to encounter if you visit the land down under.
Check out our list of some of the most popular last names, alongside their meanings and origins, that can be found across Australia below.
Common Australian Last Names
Meaning: An English name referring to a blacksmith.
Meaning: An English or Welsh name meaning son of John.
Meaning: A French name referring to Mars, the Roman god of war.
Meaning: An English name meaning son of William.
Meaning: An Irish name meaning descendent of Ceallach.
Meaning: An English name meaning Son of John.
Meaning: A Korean name meaning gold or metal.
Meaning: An English name referring to a king or royalty.
Meaning: An Indian name meaning lion is Sanskrit.
Meaning: An English name referring to a person of fair hair or complexion.
Meaning: A Vietnamese name meaning musical instrument.
Meaning: An Indian name meaning child or prince.
Meaning: An English name meaning son of Harry.
Meaning: An Irish name meaning descendant of Riaghan.
Meaning: An Indian name meaning village chief.
Meaning: A Chinese and Korean name meaning plum or plum tree.
Meaning: An English occupational name for a tailor.
Meaning: An Indian name stemming from the Sanskrit word for joy or happiness.
Meaning: A Scottish surname meaning son of Thomas.
Meaning: An English occupational name for someone who presses or beats cloth.
Meaning: An Indian name stemming from the Sanskrit word for favor or offering.
Meaning: An English name that means “the son of Brun.”
Meaning: A Scottish name derived from the Gaelic roots cam (“crooked”) and beul (“mouth”).
Meaning: An English name that derived from the word “clerk.”
Meaning: A Scottish name derived from the Cupar in Fife that is also tied to the profession of the same name.
Meaning: A Welsh name that means “son of David.”
Meaning: An English name meaning “son of Richard.”
Meaning: An Irish name meaning “descendant of Dubhghall,” which breaks down to dubh (“black”) and gall (“stranger”).
Meaning: An Irish name derived from the occupation of “the dyer.”
Meaning: An English and Welsh name meaning “son of Edward.”
Meaning: A Welsh name meaning “son of Evan.”
Meaning: A Scottish name derived from the personal name Fergus, which means “angry one.”
Meaning: An English occupational name.
Meaning: An English name rooted in the ancient occupation of the foster, also known as the person who was in charge of keeping up hunting grounds for monarchs and bishops.
Meaning: A Scottish name related to the clan of Fraser.
Meaning: An ancient name of Anglo-Saxon origin that means “free-born man.”
Meaning: An English name meaning “the son of Gilbert.”
Meaning: A Scottish and English topographical name derived from the Old Norse world “gil,” which means ravine.
Meaning: An English and Scottish habitational name relating to Grantham in Lincolnshire, England.
Meaning: A Chinese name that translates to yellow.
Meaning: An Old English name that literally translates to “John’s town.”
Meaning: A German name meaning “renowned, famous battle.”
Meaning: An English name meaning “the son of Michael.”
Meaning: A common Irish surname that derives from a Gaelic term meaning “descendant of sea warrior.”
Meaning: An Irish name meaning “son of Nell.”
Meaning: An Irish name meaning descendant of Brian.
Meaning: An Anglo-Saxon name meaning “son of Pagan.”
Meaning: A French name meaning “son of Reynold.”
Meaning: A Welsh name derived from Robert, meaning “bright renown.”
Meaning: A Scottish name that means someone from Scotland.
Meaning: An English geographical name meaning from a residence by a small wood or shaw.
Meaning: A French occupational name for someone who worked with a lathe.
Meaning: A Chinese name meaning prince.
Meaning: A Chinese name that means “many.”
Meaning: An ancient Chinese name meaning to “stretch open a bow.”
Australian Aboriginal Names
Australia has a long history, and before the British colonized it in 1788, it belonged to the Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Here are a few aboriginal names with rich meanings.
Meaning: This is the name of a bush plum tree that grows in Western Australia.
Meaning: High plateau or high plain.
Meaning: “By the sea.”
Meaning: Laughing star.
Meaning: References translucent gem quartz.
Meaning: Wild goose.
Meaning: This name means permanent or always there. It’s also the name of a Sydney suburb.
Meaning: Beautiful woman, to live, boomerang or dancing leaf.
Meaning: Girl or woman
Meaning: Old tree.
Meaning: Blossom, flower, or native water lilies.
Meaning: Mother or sun.
What Is Another Name for Australia?
Speaking of names, did you know Australia has several? Australia is one of the most unique places in the world, and on top of having the strangest creatures, it has a quirky naming history too. This continent has more than one name. Some include “Oz” and “The Land Down Under,” which is also called Down Under. Australia is also known by other aliases like “The Great Southern Land,” “The Lucky Country,” and “The Sunburnt Country.”
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