Dingley Village

There are some places that make want to ask “What the Hell?” or, if one is prone to dropping one’s ‘aitches, “what the ‘ell?” Dingley Village is such a place, although the answer here is, for once in these pages, reasonably straightforward.

Dingley Village was a housing project built by the state government of Sir Henry Bolte, a member of the Liberal party (note to Americans: in Australia, the Liberal Party is actually the dominant conservative party, for reasons lost in the mists of history). It was specifically built to house the disaffected veterans of the Korean War, who went to war idealistic conscripts, and came back thinking that if their government hated Marxism so much it couldn’t be all bad.

The place was originally intended to be named Deakin Village, after a former Prime Minister from Melbourne who’d probably not set foot in the area in his lifetime (although given that Deakin was an ardent Spiritualist, he may well have set foot there after his lifetime), but an accident involving a live microphone, in which Bolte was quite clearly heard referring to the site as “Dingy Village” led to a hasty renaming, with Bolte apologising for his mispronunciation and claiming that he had meant to say “Dingley Village”. He went on to detail the impressive military career of Gus Dingley, who had fought in the Boer War, at Gallipoli and at the Somme, where he was awarded the Victoria Cross for extreme gallantry in the face of a fridge with no beer in it for a week, before coming home to well-earned retirement and eventual death in his childless old age.

Needless to say, Dingley was entirely fictional, but Bolte made a few quick calls after the interview was completed, and today, you can see pictures of man alleged to be Dingley (but bearing a suspicious resemblance to one Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant) and a selection of medals that rather peculiarly includes the Pacific Star (awarded for naval service in World War Two) alongside Dingley’s VC, on display at the National War Memorial in Canberra. Wags from the opposing political parties were quick to claim that this was where Bolte had got rid of his ‘small-l’ Liberals. (Note to American readers: ‘small-l’ Liberals are members of the Liberal party who are not conservative, although few of them can be described as further to the left than ‘centrist’.)

The village remains accurately described by Bolte.

Suburbs near Dingley Village: