The naming of the streets of Melbourne

Robert Hoddle, the surveyor who laid out the grid of early Melbourne, tells us in his journal how However Governor Bourke came to his tent one morning with names of the streets.

Edmund Finn came to Melbourne in the early days of European settlement and worked as a journalist under the name of Garryowen. Here is what he tells of the city street names.

The boundaries of Old Melbourne were from the Yarra by Spring, La Trobe, and Spencer Streets, back to the river, and for years no sane man dreamed that for any business purposes the township would require any extension. The Streets from the Yarra to La Trobe Street were named after Captain Flinders, one of the earliest navigators of Port Phillip Bay; Captain Collins, the commandant of the convict settlement of 1803; Governor Bourke and Captain Lonsdale.

The streets from west to east were called after Lord Spencer (the Lord Alethorpe of a Melbourne Administration); Governor King of New South Wales; William Street after William the Fourth and Queen Street after his consort, though the compliment would have been more marked and the name more distinctive, if they had called it Adelaide Street.

We might supplement Garryowens account by adding that Governor Bourkes wife Elizabeth had died in 1832 and Elizabeth Street may well have been named in her memory. It is worth noting that the leaders of the two rival parties who settled Melbourne, Batman and Fawkner, did not feature in this list. The fact that Fawkner was the son of a convict and had himself spent time as a prisoner, and that Batman at the time was dying of syphilis did not make them good candidates for such official recognition. However they were later to have numbers of places around Melbourne named after them (Fawkners middle name was Pascoe). La Trobe Street was named after Charles La Trobe. Stephen Street was renamed to Exhibition Street in 1880 to promote our first grand international exhibition.

It is also worth noting that Governor Bourke named Melbourne after the British Prime Minister of the time whereas Williamstown was named after the king. This would seem to indicate that he thought of Williamstown as the more important settlement….

Author: Peter Shaw

Is the founder and president of Princes Park Touch and the leader of the LocalHero project!

Fill in your details below or login