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Australian Domain Names

By admin • November 23, 2010 • Filed in: Domain Names, Website Strategy

The domain name was originally allocated by Jon Postel, operator of IANA to Kevin Robert Elz of Melbourne University in 1986. After an approximately five year process in the 1990s, the Internet industry created a self regulatory body called .au Domain Administration to operate the domain. It obtained assent from ICANN in 2001, and commenced operating a new competitive regime for domain registration on July 1, 2002. Since this new regime, any registration has to be ordered via a registrar. Operation of .au

Domain names like,, and many country domains like and were taken many years ago and in todays market would sell for much more than what it cost to register them. This second or aftermarket is starting to thrive and companies like Netfleet offer them for many thousands of dollars.

Oversight of .au is by .au Domain Administration (auDA). It is a not-for-profit organisation whose membership is derived from Internet organisations, industry members and interested individuals. The organisation operates under the consent of the Australian government which has legislative power to decide the operators of electronic addressing in the country.

Policy for .au is devised by policy development panels. These panels are convened by auDA and combine public input with industry representation to derive policy.

The day-to-day operation of the .au registry technical facility is tendered out by auDA. The operator from 2002 to 2006 for many of .au’s second-level domains is AusRegistry.

The registry does not sell direct to the consumer, who must register and maintain their domain name via a domain name registrar. After the industry’s liberalisation in 2002, there is an active competitive market in registrars with a variety of prices and services.

In 2008 auDA changed its longstanding policy and allowed changes in ownership of .au domains. Although the secondary market was initially slow to take off there have recently been signs of increasing maturity in the .au aftermarket culminating in the record $25,500 sale of Registration

It is not possible to register directly in the second level of .au (such as The naming rules for .au require registrations under second-level categories that describe a type of entity., for example, is designed for commercial entities. This follows a similar allocation policy to that used in other countries such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
[edit] Second-level domains

* – Commercial entities
* – Commercial entities (historically only ISPs, but the use has been broadened)
* – Associations and non-profit organisation (historically only for organisations that did not fit in other categories)
* – Educational institutions (see Third-level domains, below)
* – Governments and their departments (see Third-level domains, below)
* – CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation)
* – Associations and non-profit organisations
* – Individuals (by real name or common alias)

Community geographic domain names

Introduced in 2004, “community geographic domain names” (CGDNs) are intended to be used for “community websites that reflect community interests such as local business, tourism, historical information, culture, sporting groups, local events and news” of a local community. These domains are managed by the .au Community Domains Trust (auCD) on behalf of auDA. The funding of auCD was provided from a ballot of locality names in the and domain spaces; previously, any locality with a postcode had been restricted from being registered as a commercial domain name.

CGDNs use the state or territory’s common abbreviation as the second level of the domain. For example, a community based in Victoria would receive a domain ending in, a Northern Territory community would use, and so on. The third level of the domain must be an addressable locality within that state or territory, of the form Where a name is duplicated within a state – for instance, between a smaller town, and a suburb of a larger town or city – the locality name may be suffixed with the name of the local government area, town or city to which it is associated (e.g.

Holders of CGDNs must be “a legally registered, not-for-profit entity; and […] representative of the local community for the purpose of holding the domain name licence.” In particular, commercial entities and local governments are not permitted to hold a CGDN in their own right; they are however permitted to hold membership in such entities set up to hold a CGDN.

As of November 2009, the auCD site claims 91 active CGDNs across Australia, with a further 115 either approved or awaiting approval.

In addition, a number of temporary CGDN sites were activated for communities affected by the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009, run either by “community members” or auCD itself (as a waiver of usual policy). These domains are due to expire at the end of June 2010, unless transferred to an eligible holder. Third-level domains

The use of and is also split up into further state-based categories. State governments and schools use a domain name that reflect their locale, and these state-based third-level domains are managed independently by the states.

For example, a school in Western Australia would register, whereas a New South Wales government department would use Similarly, replacing the bold part of these domains, Victoria would use .vic, Queensland would use .qld, South Australia would use .sa, Tasmania would use .tas, Northern Territory would use .nt and the Australian Capital Territory would use .act. However, after a change of internet services in Queensland State Schools their domain names were changed from to This is not the case for private schools in Queensland. Often, domains can even contain a fourth level: for instance, a NSW public school might have the domain

auDA has delegated responsibility of the domain to Australian Information and Communications Technology in Education Committee (AICTEC), which formed a specialist sub-committee, Domain Administration Committee (eDAC). Educational institutions may register an domain name at:

Tertiary institutions are typically exempt from requiring state-based distinctions. For example Edith Cowan University in Western Australia has a domain of rather than, Monash University in Victoria uses rather than This difference can be associated with states having responsibility for primary and secondary education while the Commonwealth has responsibility for tertiary education – tertiary institutions often having a presence in multiple states. Historic second-level domains

Some second-level domain names are no longer actively used. Whilst registrations are grand-fathered for some, no new registrations are accepted.

* – Host of the Archie information service of the early 1990s. Has since been deleted
* – Conferences and other short-lived events, now only exists for
* – Gateways and miscellaneous AARNet routing equipment. Has since been deleted
* – General information
* – A mapping domain for X.400 addresses; was obsoleted by Has since been deleted
* – Historical domain name for Australian sites. Australia’s original top-level domain for use in the store-and-forward Internet messaging system MHSnet was .oz. The top-level domain later officially became .au and those domains in .oz were moved to As of April 2009, many subdomains under and are still in use for SSH access to servers within the CSSE and EEE departments of the University of Melbourne.
* – A mapping domain for X.400 addresses. Has since been deleted

Other Australian domain names

.au is not the only top-level domain name assigned to Australia. Some Australian territories were, for historical reasons, also allocated top-level domains.

* .cc – Cocos (Keeling) Islands
* .cx – Christmas Island
* .hm – Heard and McDonald Islands
* .nf – Norfolk Island

As the appropriate authorities were late in recognising the need to manage these, most were registered by entrepreneurs for use as vanity domains unrelated to the locale they serve. .cc, for example, is now operated by VeriSign. .hm represents a nature preserve with no human inhabitants.

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