In some parts of far northern Scotland, in the lands beyond Caithness, a niddrie is a measurement of area, being roughly equivalent to five eighths of a perch (which is approximately, but not exactly, the same as a rod or pole). It’s a tiny, tiny size, and over the centuries, like many other names for measurements of tiny, tiny things (such as skerrick, morsel, smidgen, penis or scintilla), a certain amount of semantic drift has made it a general term for any thing so small as to be useless.

Thus the name of the Melbourne suburb, which is more or less composed of whatever geographical scraps were left after Essendon, Aberfeldie, Keilor and Airport West had each taken their respective pieces. What’s left, clustered around the roughly east-west line of Keilor Road, is modern Niddrie. Small, overlooked, and usually smelling of the freeway that forms its northern border, Niddrie is a useless place.

Or is it? As the inward bound trajectory of particle physics developed over the course of the last two centuries, it became clearer and clearer that small, over-looked things had an importance heretofore unsuspected. And Niddrie is such a thing. Top secret experiments carried out at the nearby Large Hard-On Collider have determined that Niddrie serves a vitally useful function to Melbourne, and indeed, to planet Earth, by covering a small but very, very heavy object that appears to made of mingled dark matter, anti-matter and doesn’t matter (a form of matter found only in Australia, whose sole exemplar is the oft-invoked ‘no worries particle’ – a particle whose sole function is to be put into complicated equations in physics to make sure that they work out properly. It may or may not be the same as the German ‘confirmation bias particle’ or the French ‘ennui and impatience particle’ – research continues). Were it not for Niddrie, this matter would fly off into space, destabilising the orbit and gravity of our planet, and possibly wreaking havoc on the rest of the solar system (depending upon what, if anything, it collided with on its way out).

Suburbs near Niddrie: