Why Is Australia Called Oz?

Australia has always been an exceptional and mysterious country, from its peculiar wildlife to its beautiful landscapes. But one of the biggest mysteries that remains unanswered is why is Australia called Oz? Every year millions of tourists flock to Australia to explore its diverse landscape, experience its unique wildlife and explore its ancient history, but the name Oz has always been a enigma.

Since the first European settlers, Australians have shared this name with the magical world of Oz – the fictional land created by L. Frank Baum in his children’s books.

Did the name come from there? Or is there a deeper meaning behind it?

In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating history, etymology and folklore around the name Australia and why we call it Oz. Let’s begin by taking a look at the name Australia itself. Australians often refer to the nation simply as Oz, but the original name of the land was ‘New Holland’.

This was given by the first Dutch explorers in 1644 when they arrived in the area, and the name was officially adopted in 1770 by English explorer Captain James Cook. Over two hundred years later in 1901, the federation of colonies in Australia was established, and the official name ‘Australia’ was born. The term ‘Oz’ first appears when the Federation joined together, but there is still debate about where exactly it originates from.

With over 25 million inhabitants, 25,761 km of coastline and 8 states and territories, Australia is a vast and unforgiving land – but why is it called Oz?

Why Is Australia Called Oz?

Have you ever wondered why Australia is referred to as “Oz”? It turns out that it is a shortened version of the word “Australasia”, and has been used to refer to the continent since the late 19th century.

Historical Background

The term “Australasia” was first coined by Charles de Brosses in 1756 and was later adopted by the explorer James Cook in his reports on his voyages in the South Pacific. He referred to the land he was visiting as “Oestralasia”, which is a variant spelling of “Australasia”.

From this, the shortened form “Oz” began to be used to refer to Australia and Australasia. In particular, the term was popularised by the British novelist, poet and essayist Thomas Carlyle in 1855, when he described Australia as “the hilarious, laughing Oz”. In 1889, popular Australian author and journalist Louis Becke referred to Australia as “Oz” in one of his articles.

The Wizard of Oz

The most popular use of the word “Oz” is in the 1939 classic movie The Wizard of Oz, which is based on the children’s book of the same name written by L. Frank Baum.

In this movie, the main character, Dorothy, is whisked away to a magical land called Oz. The popularity of the movie in turn helped popularise the use of “Oz” as a nickname for Australia. However, it is important to note that the fictional Oz created by Baum is not intended to represent the continent of Australia.


In conclusion, the term “Oz” is a shortened form of the word “Australasia” and has been used to refer to Australia and Australasia since the late 19th century. The most popular use of the word is in the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, which has further helped to popularise its use as a nickname for Australia.

Citations URL: – https://www. britannica. com/place/Australasia- https://www. theaustralian. com. au/nation/the-story-of-why-australia-is-nicknamed-oz/news-story/dc73724bd8a32f4884444add12a66495

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