Origin of suburb names

Melbourne is graced with interestingly named suburbs, but just what is their etymology? We dove into the archives and discovered that the names of our favourite suburbs have fascinating origins.


We begin with Blackburn, whose naming origin is shrouded in mystery. There are a few possible sources for the name. Some experts suggest that it is named after a prominent European landowner G. Blackburn. There are also suggestions that the suburb acquired its name from a suburb in Liverpool, England. While others believe that Blackburn is named after James Blackburn, an ex-convict architect and civil engineer who designed Yan Yein reservoir. With a few good theories on offer, we’ll allow you to decide which one makes the most sense.


Originally known as Pentridge – the birthplace of an early European settler’s wife – the area was stigmatised due to the similarly named prison established in the area. Residents were eventually tasked with renaming the suburb with a more attractive name. Local man Robert Mailer suggested the name “Coburg” at an official town hall meeting. He is said to have gained inspiration from the impending visit of the then Duke of Edinburgh – a member of the royal house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. The name received the official seal of approval and has been known as Coburg ever since.


As one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs, Collingwood began its life being merged with Fitzroy, known collectively under the name Newtown. With a growing population flocking to the area, it was decided to separate the two. Collingwood was most likely given its name in honour of Baron Collingwood, a British admiral who succeeded Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar. However, it is also believed that the suburb could have been designated Collingwood, thanks to a similarly named hotel within the area.


How Cremorne acquired its name is a slightly contentious issue, much like Blackburn. There are a few accepted theories at its origins. Some suggest that it was named after Cremorne Gardens, a popular leisure area in London throughout the Victorian era. Others believe it is derived from the Gaelic name Críoch Mhúrn meaning boundary. Its name may also be attributed to an ancient tribal group in County Monaghan in Ireland. It seems only fitting that this eclectic suburb has a name of eclectic origins.


Why Flemington received its name is yet another mystery. There are two varied, albeit accepted theories. The first is that Flemington was named by early settler James Watson in honour of his father-in-law, who was the manager of the Flemington estate in Scotland. The second theory is that it is named in honour of Robert Fleming, a landowner who established a butchery within the area. Regardless, the area has been known as Flemington since the late 19th century.


Industrialist H.V. McKay purchased the Braybrook Implement Works in 1904, in the area we now know as Sunshine, which at the time was known as Braybrook Junction. The purchase proved to be a fruitful investment with McKay relocating his entire business to the area in 1906. He established housing for workers to live in the area and provided amenities and public infrastructure that attracted significant praise. The area quickly became viewed as a model working-class community. In 1907, workers petitioned to have its name changed to Sunshine in honour of McKay’s Sunshine Harvester Works.

When you delve into the history of our city, you are greeted with a fascinating array of stories. While naming conventions evolve with time, the titles of our suburbs act as a glimpse into a particular era. Pace is proud to be adding to the rich tapestry of each of these suburbs now and into the future.

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