What's in a name?

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"I've been everywhere, man… I've been to Wollongong, Geelong, Kurrajong, Mullumbimby, Mittagong, Molong, Grong Grong, Goondiwindi … Cabramatta, Parramatta, Wangaratta, Coolangatta..."
“I’ve Been Everywhere,” Geoff Mack, 1959

BLACK 79 1154 8 small.jpg

'Native Names of Places'
PROV VPRS 16685/P0, unit 12, Bundle 79, Book 1154 Hoddle R. Melbourne, Williamstown



This page will document research for the theme 'What's in a name?'  for the exhibition Beyond Hoddle's Grid (see Beyond Hoddle's Grid - Project Space)

Place names can be a rich source of information. This theme will explore how and why Victorian places have been named looking at two types of place name typology, Indigenous and introduced. The theme will use the naming of the streets of the Grid as a starting point, but will also look more broadly of the naming, and renaming of places, throughout Victoria.

One idea we're exploring is to produce a digital place names map as part of the exhibition. Drawing upon place name data sourced from Public Record Office Victoria records (potentially also other sources), the map could also crowdsource nicknames for places eg "The G" for the MCG.

Related Records on the Wiki

Naming of Dead Horse Gap and Buckland Crossing
Naming of the summit peak on Great Glennie Island
Naming of Dartmouth
Naming Boroka Lookout
The Restoration of Jardwadjali and Djab wurrun names for Rock Art Sites and Landscape Features in and around the Grampians National Park

Street Names within the Grid

City of Melbourne Rate Records reveal changes in street names within Melbourne's Grid. Romeo Lane, as it is named prior to 1876, is listed as Crossley Street in 1877. The name was changed by Council in an attempt to clean up the image of the area, which was a well-known location for brothels (Weston Bate in Webster 2004). The State Library of Victoria holds this photograph of Crossley Street by Mark Strizic.

Street names no longer in use: Correspondence Wisewould & Gibbs - asking if the corporation has any claim to Emu Place, City of Melbourne, re Emu Place, VPRS 3181/P0, Unit 474, 1877/174, City of Melbourne Town Clerk's Files Series 1 (eMelbourne)

Streets renamed: Correspondence J Browne & Others - asking to have the name Whelans Lane altered to Casselden Street,  VPRS 3181/P0, Unit 473, 1874/1442, City of Melbourne Town Clerk's Files Series 1 (eMelbourne)

Streets renamed: In 2007, Browns Alley was renamed to Dame Edna Place (eMelbourne). In the Sydney Morning Herald Dame Edna was reported to have said:

"While I was in London doing this TV show, a street in Melbourne was named after me," she says. "I thought they'd probably rename Collins Street but in fact it was just a little lane, in the better part of town of course. It had formerly been called Brown Alley, isn't that horrible? Luckily it wasn't an underpass! It is now called Dame Edna Place."

Dame Edna Pl Image by brcake CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr.jpg

Photograph by brcake on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Public Record Office Victoria has archival footage of Dame Edna, alias Barry Humphries, with Graham Kennedy in VPRS 5061/P2, Unit 69

Beyond the Grid

Germantown, a suburb in Geelong, was renamed Grovedale in September 1915. The town gained its name as a result of the Lutheran German families who settled there in 1849.  The named change was due to the outbreak of World War I.

[related record - School No.677 Lutheran Trinity School, Germantown (VPRS 10300 / P0, unit 11)]

Ghazeepore Road - named after Ghazeepore (now Ghazipur), India (?)

Records with potential

Sue Wesson (2001) refers to the following records at PROV which document place names sources:

PROV VPRS 2896, P?, unit 2 C1858/5914 Letter A.L. Martin to Surveyor General dated 4 November 1858 1 page including 11 place names

PROV VPRS 2896, P?, unit 2 C1858/5914 Letter W.J. Dawson to J. McConnell?. Public Lands Office dated 1st Nov 1858 2pp., 5pp. Gippsland words, 1p. Omeo words

PROV VPRS 2896, Box 2 (unit 2), 58/5370 Letter Wright to Surveyor-General dated 11th October 1858 1 page, names 1 page

PROV VPRS 2896, Box 2 58/4882 Letter Urquhart to Surveyor-General dated 7th Sept 1858 Taradale 1 page, 27 place names 1 page PROV VPRS 2896 Box 2 (unit 2) 58/5304 Letter


City of Melbourne. Planning Committee Report: Agenda Item 5.3 - Renaming of Brown Alley to Dame Edna Place, September 5, 2006.

Kenyon, A.S. ‘ORIGIN OF VICTORIAN PLACE NAMES’. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), January 22, 1938, sec. Supplement: The Argus Week-end Magazine. Spielvogel, Nathan F. ‘AUSTRALIANA: Victorian Place Names.’ The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), October 13, 1945. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12147011.

Marshall, Joe. ‘Names with a Headache’. The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, November 18, 1952.

State Government of Victoria. ‘VICNAMES - Historical Information’. VICNAMES, n.d. http://services.land.vic.gov.au/vicnames/historicalInformation.html?method=list.

Tent, Jan, and David Blair. ‘Motivations for Naming: The Development of a Toponymic Typology for Australian Placenames’. NAMES 59, no. 2 (June 2011): 67–89. The Argus Week-end Magazine. ‘VICTORIA HAS SOME CURIOUS PLACE NAMES’, July 22, 1944. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/11353326?searchTerm=place%20names%20victoria&searchLimits=.

Webster, Andrew. ‘What’s in a Street Name? - National - Www.theage.com.au’. The Age, February 19, 2004. http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/02/18/1077072711141.html.

Wesson, Sue. ‘Aboriginal Flora and Fauna Names of Victoria: As Extracted from Early Surveyors’ Reports’. Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, 2001. http://www.vaclang.org.au/admin%5Cfile%5Ccontent9%5Cc7%5Cff.pdf.

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