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Journal by itellya

Unfortunately, although the names of towns, suburbs and streets can recall much of the history of an area, their origins were never officially recorded. The surveyors of townships often named streets after military or naval heroes, surveyors and politicians or senior bureaucrats. Those who know their area's history well will recognise streets named after pioneers such as Alphabetical Foster and Dr Farquhar McCrae at Dandenong because the surname was used. However if these streets bore a christian name of these two holders of the Eumemmering Run, the names might have been John,Vesy,Leslie or Fitzgerald and Farquhar Streets, making their origins much harder to determine.

It was while I was looking for the following account of Traralgon's early history, The River of Little Fish*, which I had read some years ago while researching Edward Hobson, that I discovered another gem.
(* "The River of Little Fish"
An historical account of Traralgon, written for the boys and girls of the city. First published in 1970. Contents. Foreword - from the author William J. Cuthill.)

I take my hat off to the journalist who wrote the following in 1914. If only the editors of all local papers had shown the same initiative, there would be no need for the guesswork involved regarding the origins of subdivisional street names derived from christian names. I only know the origins of the street names at Tootgarook such as Alma, Guest, Raymond, Ronald and Doig because a woman rang me to tell me that her hairdresser at Canterbury had owned land there and I managed to get in touch with his son. If only all municipalities had been required to record such details about subdivision streets! That is what the journalist did.

The Historical Society of Aus-
tralia is at present engaged on an
investigation of the meaning and
history of place names which are
used throughout the States. Such
an inquiry is interesting, and will
afterwards be of great value to
future historians. But for our-
selves, it may be interesting to do
the same thing in a small way, and
to enquire as to the various names
which have grown up in connec-
tion with our town, and endea-
vour to find out how they came
into being, and if there is any
meaning which they are intended
to convey.
When and by whom the name
Traralgon was given to this local-
ity, I have been unable to find out,
but it was certainly given at a very
early period in the history of the
State. The earliest spelling of the
name is reported to be "Tarral-
gon," a slight variation of the
present form, and the word itself
(by those learned in these mat-
ters) is said to be a native. name
signifying the "river of little
fishes," while the neighboring and
equally familiar name of Loy Yang
is said to mean "big eels."
The great bulk of names which
grow up around a town are usually
in. connection with street names.
These are necessarily many in
number, usually of local origin,
and are frequently used as a means
of perpetuating the names of citi-
zens who have rendered good ser-
vice to the community, and are
considered worthy to be held in
remembrance. Many items of his-
tory are often gleaned from such
a source as this.
When and by whom the first
streets in Traralgon were named
is another question to which I am
unable to give a definite answer.
The oldest township plan available
is dated 1871. On that plan the
following names are printed: Fran-
klin, Seymour, Hotham Kay and
Grey. Possibly they were given by
the surveyor who laid out the
township many years before that
date. Merely as names, they are
very suitable, but they have no
local meaning or significance. Kay
street, as then applied, extended
from the west to the east boun-
dary of the township, and inclu-
ded what is now known as the
Rosedale Road.
The next christening of streets
took place in the latter part of
the seventies, but by whom the
ceremony was performed I have
not been able to discover. While
recently examining an official plan
of the township in the Lands of-
fice, I noticed that the streets
which are now known as Peterkin,
Campbell and Gwalia were named
on it Black, Moore and Bowen.
This was before the formation of
the Traralgon shire, and it was
not done on any recommendation
from the Rosedale shire. As the
Lands department was selling land
in those streets at the time, possi-
bly these names were also applied
by some official in that office. The
peculiar part of the affair is that
the names were recorded nowhere
but on the official plan of the
township, and as they have
not been published since, the na-
mes have been completely lost, and
at a later date the streets were
re-named by the Traralgon shire
In 1884 the Traralgon council
took up the question of street na-
mes, this being the first time that
any local authority had ever taken
the matter in hand. By resolution
the following names were formally
adopted: Argyle, Mitchell, Church,
Breed, Princess, Peterkin, Mason,
Mill, Berry and Gwalia. Shortly
afterwards, but apparently without
any express authority, the follow-
ing were added: Campbell, Ser-
vice, Deakin, George, John, Munro
Flora and High. About the same
time Mr. Peterkin subdivided Loch
Park, named after the Governor of
that time, and the streets in it
received the names of their daugh-
ters: Ethel, Mabel and Olive.
It may be mentioned that Miss. O.
Peterkin's wedding was recently
reported in your columns. Mr.
Breed followed with the Ben Vue
subdivision to the streets of
which he gave the christian na-
mes of himself, his wife and son:
Henry, Ann and Albert. Henry
and Olive were for different por-
tions of the same street, and as it
soon became evident that to have
two names for one street was very
undesirable, the name of Olive has
been gradually dropped, and the
whole length of the street in ques-
tion is now known as Henry street.
Another subdivision at this per-
iod was the Hyde Park, by Mr.
F. C. Mason, to the streets of
which the names of his children,
Charles, Marie,and Rose were gi-
ven, although these names as yet
have not come into general use.
The Templeton Estate gave us
Bourke, Collins, Swanston and
Morrison, although only Collins
street now remains, the rest hav-
ing reverted into private occupa-
For a period of nearly twenty-
five years, no further action was
taken. The council then again
took up the matter, and formally
adopted the following: Hickox,
Dunbar, McColl, McLean, Living-
ston, Howitt, Bridge, Shakespere
and Tennyson. The Park subdivl-
sion added to the list: Burns, Gor-
don and Moore. Except for some
private subdivlsion names which
have been given since, this com-
pletes the catalogue.
Now, reviewing this list, and se-
lecting the names of those who
were at one time residents, we get
the following: Campbell, Peter-
kin, Breed, Mill, McLean, Mitchell,
Hickox, Dunbar, McColl and
Munro. Howitt may also be re-
garded as a local name, in recog-
nition of the late Dr. Howitt's long
connection with the district, as
a police magistrate. Mr. Munro,
as manager of the Bank of Austra-
lasia, was not a resident of long
standing, although he was a very
active and energetic citizen when
he was here. With this exception,
all the others are pioneer citizens,
with whom the history of Traral-
gon will ever be associated. Only
one of them, Mr. Mill, is still alive,
but in their day and generation
they well and worthily did their
part in the building up of the
town in which we live, and Tra-
ralgon to-day is reaping the fruit
of their labors. Now that they are
no longer with us, it is well that
their names should be perpretra-
ted in the way which has been
Of political names we have Ser-
vice, Berry, Deakin, Mason and
Livingston, each of whom has ren-
dered the State some service, and
are entitled to remembrance.
Franklin, Seymour, Hotham and
Grey are names of officers in the
Imperial service, but who Kay is
in memory of I am unable to say.
The name has no connection with
E. Kay, who, later on, was a pro-
minent resident.
The number of streets having
christian names is large. We have
the Peterkin names, Ethel, Mabel
and Olive; the Breed names, Ann
Albert and Henry; and Mason na-
mes, Charles, Marie and Rose; and
these we can account for. But
where George, Flora and John
came from is uncertain. The name
Flora was given to the Rosedale
road, and never came into use;
George and John are small streets
on the east side of the creek; and
the names are rarely used.
Several names are descriptive of
the physical features of the streets
—as High, Church and Bridge, and
explain themselves.
Poetry is well represented, as
we have Shakespere, Tennyson,
Burns, Moore, and Gordon.
There are other names which
have no local or other significanice
that I know of, such as Gwalia.
Whence it came, or what it stands
for, I cannot say, but the name
Bowen originally applied, repre-
senting the Governor of that per-
iod, would have been better.
Generally, it may be said that
names have grown up here, as they
have in other parts, in a hapha-
zard and disconnected fashion.
Given at different tlmes, and by
different people, without any com-
mon policy, no other result could
be expected. But it is rather to be
regretted that greater use has not
been made of this means of recog-
nising the services which have
been rendered to the community
by public spirited citizens. Besides
those, whose names have already
been enumerated, there are others
who have taken an active part im
the building of the town, and has-
tening its onward progress. But
they are now fading out of re-
membrance, and their works are
being forgotten. Naming a street
is a very, simple, yet very effective,
way of keeping alive the memory
of those people the community
wishes to honor.
A few references may be made
to the over-use of names, Traral-
gon being one which is very much
overworked. In addition to the
Traralgon township, and Traral-
gon Creek, we have TraraIgon
West, Traralgon South and Upper
Traralgon Creek. The latter is
cumbersome and confusing, and
might very well be replaced by
something simpler. Now that the
district referred to as making great
progress with a school, public hall,
and regular postal communication,
it is worthy of having some dis-
tinctive name, which would be all
its own.
Flynn's Creek and Upper Flynn's
Creek is another instance of re-
petition, which confuses a stran-
ger, and is a frequent cause of
letters being misdirected. The lat-
ter name might well be superseded
by something shorter, and more
euphonious, and more appropriate
to the district.
A further instance is Jeeralang.
Originally, it was the name of a
parish only. Now that settlement
has progressed, and schools and
post offices establshed, we have
Jeeralang North, Jeeralang South
Jeeralang West and Jeeralang,
while Jeeralang road is applied to
several different places. Except to
anyone intimately acquainted with
the locality, it is confusing in the
extreme, and to correctly address
a letter is often a problem. It
would greatly simplify matters if
each separate centre, where a post
office or school has been establi-
shed adopted some separate name
of its own. (P.3, Gippsland Farmers Journal (Traralgon), 26-5-1914.)

by itellya Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2016-01-28 19:17:50

Itellya is researching local history on the Mornington Peninsula and is willing to help family historians with information about the area between Somerville and Blairgowrie. He has extensive information about Henry Gomm of Somerville, Joseph Porta (Victoria's first bellows manufacturer) and Captain Adams of Rosebud.

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