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Strange Maps

204 – One Ring To Rule Them All, Mate


“The koality of muh-cy is not strined”: I forget who once pondered the impossibility of believing Shakespeare spoken in an Australian accent. Maybe it’s the implied anachronism, for in Shakespeare’s time there wasn’t an Australian accent, owing mainly to Australia not having been discovered yet.

At first glance this map, transposing Tolkien’s fantasy world on Australia, seems equally out of place. The imagined continent of Middle-Earth has always been taken to represent or at least prefigure Europe. The Hobbits, for example, are, says Tolkien, “just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination.” A map, discussed earlier on this blog (#121 – Where On Earth Was Middle-Earth?) takes the parallel between Tolkien’s world and the outline of modern Europe to its extreme – Mordor is in Hungary, for example.

And yet, putting the eurocentric view of fantasy cartography to one side, it’s worth recalling that the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy wasn’t filmed in Hungary, England or anywhere else in Europe, but in New Zealand – Australia’s neighbour. Ironically, about as far away in the world from Tolkien’s rustic English countryfolk as you can get without getting your feet wet.

So if New Zealand can be the (rather spectacular) backdrop to Tolkien’s stories, why not Australia? Disbelief duly suspended, let’s examine the places mentioned in this map:

Many places take an existing Aussie name and tolkienify them, such as Western Australia (‘Westron Australia’), Perth (‘Middle-Perth’), Broome (‘Brun’), Alice Springs (‘Alfalas Springs’), Lake Eyre (‘Lake Corseyre’), Hobart (‘Hobartton’ – a nice reference to Hobbiton), Sydney (‘Sidnarin’), Quenyasland (‘Queensland’), Adelaide (‘Adeleade’), Brisbane (‘Brohan’) and Melbourne (‘Morborn’).

The thinly settled Northern Territory is rebaptised the ‘Northern Waste’, the Great Dividing Range becomes ‘Great Dividing Rangers’. I don’t know how the map-maker feels about the Australian federal government, but the legend covering the federal capital Canberra might give a hint: “Here was of old the witch-realm of Canbrar.”

This map was made and sent in by James Hutchings, not coincidentally an Australian. “A great place for a holiday”, he says about his tolkienified Australia, “but watch out for the kangarorcs.”