Melbourne, Florida: Ten Australian cities in foreign countries

We might like to think of Australia as unique, but some of our place names aren't. Around the world, there are cities and regions with the same names, but very different vibes. The good news is that the Australian version is usually more appealing, as we quickly discover on a globetrotting namesakes tour.

MELBOURNE

WHERE? Florida, US

The Florida version of Melbourne gets its name from the Australian version, and just under 85,000 people live there. It's a pleasant enough place, with heritage buildings, a zoo and a handful of mid-tier museums. It's fairly interchangeable with several other cities on Florida's east coast, but it does have a handy position on the Indian River lagoon. Take to the water, and you're more likely to take to Melbourne, Florida. See melbourneflorida.org

LAUNCESTON

WHERE? Cornwall, England

EGW5E4 Launceston Castle and St Mary's Church, Launceston, Cornwall. credit: alamy
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Standing by the River Tamar (another name Tasmanians may recognise), Launceston is the historic capital of the county of Cornwall. It's also the gateway to the county, and a rather pleasant market town. It is, however, a ridiculously hilly market town, which is why the Normans decided to put a castle at the top, back in the 11th century. Tasmania's Launceston is named after the British version. See visitlaunceston.co.uk

SYDNEY

WHERE? Nova Scotia, Canada

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Photo: Alamy

The Canadian Sydney is three years older than the Australian one, and was named after the same bloke – the 1st Viscount Sydney. Both Sydneys have a harbour, but not too much in common beyond that. The Sydney of the north is on Cape Breton Island, and was once a coal and steel city, but now several cruise ships dock there. Celtic heritage is the strong suit, but there's still an air of a waning industrial town trying to find a new role. See sydneycapebretonisland.com

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NEWCASTLE

WHERE? England

Newcastle.

Photo: iStock

The NSW city gets its name from the English one on the banks of the River Tyne. The original has a smattering of solid tourist attractions – the Discovery Museum and children's book centre Seven Stories are pretty good, while the giant Angel of the North statue and Hadrian's Wall are close by. More importantly, though, Newcastle is renowned for being a rollicking night out. See newcastlegateshead.com

ADELAIDE

WHERE? Eastern Cape, South Africa

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Photo: Alamy

If you think South Australia's Adelaide is sleepy, wait until you see South Africa's. It's named after the same person, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, who was the wife of British King William IV. But it didn't grow quite as big. It's primarily a service town for the local meat and wool industries, but also serves as a base for exploring the nearby Winterberg Mountains. See visiteasterncape.co.za

THE GOLD COAST

WHERE? Ghana

Anomabo, Ghana

Ghana Photo: iStock

Before it became independent, the West African country of Ghana was a British colony called the Gold Coast. But before the British got their hands on it, it passed through Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish and Prussian control. Many of Ghana's top tourist attractions are inland national parks, but Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle act as reminders of what once went on here. Both are now museums looking at the slave trade. See visitghana.com

PERTH

WHERE? Scotland

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Photo: iStock

The original Perth in Scotland is all about castles and palaces. Huntingtower Castle and the Black Watch Castle look suitably grand, while Scone Palace is an imposing, red sandstone behemoth. The King of the Scots is traditionally crowned at Scone. Before the Palace, an abbey was on the site, and those crowned king here include Robert The Bruce and Macbeth. See perthcity.co.uk

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

WHERE? Jamaica

R5

Photo: Alamy

In the western section of the island of Jamaica, the Blue Mountains are renowned as a coffee-growing region. But for visitors, there are plenty of adventure activities to be enjoyed, too. Hiking and downhill mountain biking are popular, but the less energetic can stick to visiting coffee plantations and splashing around in waterfall plunge pools. The name comes from the blue tinge created by the mists. See visitjamaica.com

VICTORIA

WHERE? The Seychelles

Aerial view on the coastline of the Seychelles Islands and luxury Eden Island from Victoria viewpoint, Mahe credit: iStock
Whitley traveller 10

Photo: iStock

Queen Victoria was frankly prodigious in having places named after her. Not content with two Australian states (Queensland is named for her, too), she managed to leave her mark on cities all over the world. The one on Vancouver Island, Canada, is best known, but Victoria is also the capital of the Seychelles. It's essentially a quaint seaside town posing as a city. The steampunk-ish clocktower is Victoria's symbol, but the orchids, palms and giant tortoises make the Botanic Gardens the most appealing place to hang out. See Seychelles.travel

THE MURRAY RIVER

WHERE? Stewart Island, New Zealand

Australia's longest river also has a namesake in Western Australia, plus two in Canada. But the cutest Murray River is arguably the tiny one on Stewart Island, New Zealand's third island. Surrounded by the Rakiura National Park, the Kiwi Murray enters the Foveaux Strait. You can stay there in a basic, six-bunk hut while tackling the 32 kilometre Rakiura Track. A dainty swing bridge crosses the river. See doc.govt.nz

David Whitley has been a guest of the New Zealand, Jamaican, Scottish, British and Canadian tourism authorities.

See also: It's not Bangkok: The 10 cities we call by the wrong name

See also: Deadly destinations: The 10 execution sites turned tourist haunts

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