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How Did the Suburbs of Melbourne Get Their Names?

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by Geoff Edlund (subscribe)
Always on the hunt for creative, fun, and interesting places, events, and experiences.
Published June 11th 2018
How the Suburbs of Melbourne got their names
Melbourne was home to several indigenous tribes for up to 40,000 years, before European settlement. It is now a large, sprawling metropolis with over 300 suburbs. Many are named after the birthplace of settlers, historic buildings, or significant events that shaped the development of the city. These 30 suburbs across Melbourne, give a sense of how these suburbs came to be, and how they were assigned the names they still hold today.

Scottish Places

Nobel's Explosive Company of Glasgow had its works in Ardeer in Scotland. The Australian subsidiary of this firm in this suburb took over the Australian Explosives and Chemicals Company in 1925.

In 1838, when Collingwood land was first offered for sale, a handful of investors purchased 25 acre blocks on the Yarra River. John Orr built Abbotsford which was named after a ford used by the Abbot of Melrose Abbey in Scotland.

James Robertson purchased crown land in 1845 on high grounds overlooking the Maribyrnong River from the North, and gave his house its Scottish name of Aberfeldie.

In 1875 politician James Munro bought land and built Armadale House, which he named after the Scottish village where he had gone to school.

Irish Places

On the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay, Charles Hotson Ebden built Black Rock House in 1856 on 105 acres. The designs were generally copied from a building in Black Rock in Ireland

English Places

Belgrave in the Dandenong Ranges was the name of an English town in Leicestershire. Belgrave was one of the more distant spots in early settlement when the railway was established.

Belgrave Melbourne
Puffing Billy railway near Belgrave. Credits: Wikimedia Commons, user: Andy McLemore

Clifton Hill comprises the elevated, north-eastern pocket of Collingwood and is likely named after Clifton (near Bristol) in England.

A village reserve was named after Epping Forest in Essex, England, in 1853.

In 1881 Gipsy Village had only 183 residents, but in the following year the land boom began with auctions of the Pic Nic Point and Sandringham estates (named after a royal seaside summer residence in England).

The Sunbury township was named after Sunbury-on-Thames, in Middlesex, England when it was established in 1857.


Aspendale was part of what was known in the 19th century as the Long Beach between Mordialloc and Frankston. In 1891 James Crookes opened Aspendale racecourse naming it after a champion mare, Aspen.

Aspendale Melbourne
Aspendale today (shops along Nepean Highway). Credits: Wikimedia Commons, user: orderinchaos

A small residential suburb near Moonee Ponds Creek, is named a tropical waterbird, the Jacana.

Historic Properties

Red Gum Flat was renamed due to Auburn House and Auburn Lodge in the area.

Avondale is by the Maribyrnong River and became one of Melbourne's newest residential areas in the late 1950s, taking its name from the Avondale property, which was subdivided in the 1920s.

There were many wine-growing properties and orchards along the slopes of the Yarra River, and Andrew Murray owned one of these in the 1850s called Balwyn.

John and Edith Greaves had a farm in the 1850s called Edithvale Farm.

Historic Events

A local railway station opened in 1859, taking its name from Balaclava Road which was named after the Crimean War battle of that decade.

Balaclava Melbourne
Balaclava shops. Credits: Wikimedia Commons, User: Maksym Kozlenko

Famous People

One market gardener, Thomas Bent, became a prominent landowner and councillor, and a station was renamed Bentleigh in his honour in 1909 (he was also a Minister for Railways).

Brunswick in Melbourne's inner-north, is likely to be named after Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

A residential area bounded by Merri Creek to the east and Coburg to the south was named after John Pascoe Fawkner, who between 1840 and 1855 farmed property near Pascoe Vale.

Thomas Gladstone owned a 19th-century grazing property. Housing was developed from the mid-1960s by A.V. Jennings with a curvilinear street plan designed to deter through traffic. This area is known as Gladstone Park.

An early settler named Henry Hurst built a timber bridge over the creek, in a township near Eltham. This area was named Hurstbridge.

Much of Macleod was originally encompassed in the Strathallan estate, and was farm land. It was named after the previous owner of the land, M.A. Macleod.

Point Cook was named after Lieutenant John Murray Cooke of HMS Rattlesnake, which visited the bay in 1837.

A residential neighbourhood between Middle Footscray and Yarraville takes its name from the railway station opened in 1906. This station was named after Sir Richard Seddon, the New Zealand Prime Minister, who died on his way home from a trip to Australia.

A large estate was passed in the early 20th century to Frank Watson who subdivided it for housing in 1924. To attract buyers to the estate, Watson and fellow landowners paid for the construction of a railway station, Watsonia.

In 1838 Warringal Village was subdivided into nine portions, with one of the largest portions being purchased in 1840 by settler James Watson. He named the land Rose Anna Farm (which became Rosanna), after his wife Elizabeth Anna Rose.

Natural features

A clearing in a long gully of tree ferns that extended from town to the Dandenong Ranges National Park lead to a suburb called Ferntree Gully.

Indigenous names

The Moonee Monee Ponds were a chain of waterholes that fed into the West Melbourne Swamp. It is thought that their name was derived from an Aboriginal word for lizard.


St Kilda was named by Charles La Trobe, after a schooner, Lady of St Kilda, which moored at the main beach for much of 1841.

Melbourne Essendon
Melbourne today (near Essendon Airport), Credits: Wikimedia Commons, User: thienzieyung


Domain website article '321 suburbs ranked for liveability'

Herald-Sun article 'The A-Z Story of Melbourne's Suburbs'

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