See the map here.
This map shows the namesake of the suburb name – i.e. what the suburb is named after.
Finding each suburb’s namesake is not an easy task. There are sometimes conflicting claims about its history. Other times, there is no reliable documentation with the necessary historical backing.
As a result, I have relied only on what I’d call ‘reliable’ sources, mainly via the VicNames database as a starting point. These include things like academic books and primary historical sources. Where even these are in disagreement, I have listed all possibilities. Where there is none of this documentation but there is other strong evidence pointing in a particular direction, I have included ‘probable’ and/or ‘disputed origin’ in its record . In other cases, there may some theories out there but no concrete evidence. Here I have listed these as ‘Unknown’. The ‘Notes’ column of the data spreadsheet contains more information if appropriate.
There are lots of interesting things to pull out from the data. The most obvious is the clear British influence – more than one in four of Melbourne’s suburbs are named after a place or person in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.
Some other observations of mine:
- If anyone wants a local history project to work on, there are 25 suburb names where the origin appears to be unknown.
- There are seven suburbs which are portmanteaus – i.e. they are a combination of two different words (usually other suburbs). These are Ashwood (Ashburton and Burwood), Donvale (Doncaster [Road] and Springvale [Road]), Kealba (Keilor and St Albans), Warranwood (Warrandyte and Ringwood), Wesburn (West and Warburton), Lyndhurst (Lynbrook and Sandhurst, with thanks to Nick for pointing this out) and Westmeadows (West and Broadmeadows).
- The suburb of Dallas in the northern suburbs is not named for Dallas in the United States, but rather for Sir Dallas Brooks, former Governor of Victoria
- Three Bridges is, unsurprisingly, named for having three bridges
Note that in the full data spreadsheet linked below, there is more detail on the namesake than the map. For design purposes I combined some into broad categories so that there are not too many colours all displaying at once. If you’re interested, I’d highly recommend downloading the data below.