Yesterday John Knifton posted a story about the naming of streets in English towns and he referred specifically to Nottingham. It intrigued me, as it may intrigue you, and so I set out to look at some street names in Ballarat and a little farther out of town to the naming of towns and villages. This is the link to John’s post.
In Australia in general and in Victoria in particular the naming of streets and towns depends on a number of disparate facts. Many towns are named for the aboriginal word for a place.
Jindivick sits high on a ridge of the Great Dividing Range and is an Aboriginal word meaning burst asunder. Konongwootong is a rural locality in western Victoria. The expression koonong wootong was derived from Aboriginal words describing a creek in grassy land. (More about this place later)
But for a lot of the rest the names of Government officials and the original pastoralists and the people who subdivided a property are predominant.
There are towns named by mistake and if you have ever bought a bottle of Australian champagne style bubbly you might be interested in how that place got its name. In the western district of Victoria in the 1840s a number of German settlers arrived in Australia and set out to look for a place to grow grapes and to make wine. One day they all sat around and decided to have their settlement officially recognised as a town. They discussed names and in the end they decided to honour the name of the first steam powered ship that came to Australia and they forwarded their application to the Department of Lands in Melbourne. When the official opened the letter he laughed and scoffed and showed his colleagues and they all laughed and scoffed. “How ignorant are some of these newcomers.” The wanted their town named Great Eastern which was the name of their ship. The official said, Don’t they realise that their settlement is in the Western District. East is in the opposite direction. He ruled two red lines through the word and in its place he wrote Western. To this day the wine making area is known as Great Western.
Around Ballarat many places which were once towns are now just a farming district but they took their name from the gold mine that was originally there.
In Ballarat it wasn’t always the nationality of the miner; it was often a reflection of international events such as the Crimean war which raged in the 1850s at the same time as the Ballarat Gold Rushes.
Sebastopol is a large suburb in modern Ballarat but there are many references in street names and districts. I will leave you to search for the battles that raged at that time and for the story of the Lady with the Lamp.