A 19th century explorer and a 20th century surveyor each suffered blinding ophthalmia during their outback travels and took the most unusual step of naming outback places after their afflictions
Two men — one a 19th century explorer and the other a 20th century surveyor of the Australian outback — suffered blinding ophthalmia during crucial times in their exploits. Each then undertook a distinctive step in toponymy (the study or science of place names) by naming places in the Australian landscape after their afflictions, each place given a different name. Ophthalmia Range was named by Ernest Giles in 1876 after suffering debilitating conjunctivitis, known as ophthalmia in the 19th century. Sandy Blight Junction was named by Len Beadell in 1960 when he too suffered from this disease, also known as “blight” or “sandy blight”. While there has been speculation that what these men suffered was actually trachoma, this cannot be proven. This is both the story of how these places acquired their names and a study of what motivated these men to undertake such unique acts.
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