Brighton

A not inconsiderable amount of effort has gone into concealing the truth of Brighton. A conspiracy of cartographers, historians and politicians has whitewashed the history of this once vibrant area, leaving behind only patrician airs and suspiciously new-looking ‘Edwardian’ architecture.

In 1978, one Professor Pariedolia either did or did not battle his (or possibly her) arch-nemesis (or possibly best friend), Jack Tyme. The battle, which may or may not have occurred in Harlem, if indeed it occurred (and assuming, of course, that Harlem is a real place), resulted in a temporal paradox (or in no discernible effect whatsoever). A slice of Harlem was somehow transposed to the Melbourne bayside of more than a century earlier, where it existed or did not exist overlaying the original reality (assuming that the words ‘original’ and ‘reality’ have meaning in this context.) (Or any other.) Here, it endlessly replayed a single week of 1978 over and over, or possibly only once, repeatedly.

It is unclear – indeed, all of this is unclear – whether the Harlem in question was a real Harlem or some fictional analogue (or possibly the Harlem of some alternate timeline – but that way lies madness, although madness with really fun drugs). What is clear is that the residents of neighbouring areas had a great deal of trouble understanding the patois, the dialogue, the lingo of the native Harlemites, and thus came to believe that their name for the area was a phrase they used with great oftenness: “Right on”.

When the effect vanished, when the actual 1978 and that particular week rolled around, moves were taken swiftly to sweep the entire confusing incident under the rug. Anyone who refused to go along with it was rounded up, and subjected to a combination of a week long Blaxploitation film festival at the Brighton Bay cinema, where they were force fed large amounts of amphetamines and hallucinogens – thus rendering their true witness accounts into the stuff of drug-crazed ranting.

Professor Pariedolia would have been proud, assuming that he actually existed and was not merely an urban myth devised by the NYPD to explain their poor performance in the 1970s.

Suburbs near Brighton:

Port Phillip Bay Elwood Elwood Elwood Elsternwick Caulfield Caulfield
Port Phillip Bay Elwood Brighton Elsternwick Elsternwick Caulfield Caulfield
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Elsternwick Elsternwick Caulfield Caulfield
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Elsternwick Elsternwick Caulfield South Caulfield South
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Brighton Gardenvale Caulfield South Caulfield South
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Brighton Brighton East Ormond Ormond
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Brighton Brighton East McKinnon McKinnon
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Brighton Brighton East Bentliegh Bentliegh
Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Brighton Brighton East Brighton East Bentliegh
Port Phillip Bay Hampton Hampton Hampton Hampton Hampton East Moorabbin

McCrae

The history of the Clan McCrae goes back many centuries to when the first scion of that line, Angus “That Crazy Bastard” McGuiness, first distinguished himself in battle. A Scotsman, he served with distinction in the war between the Scots and their most ancient arch-enemy, other Scots, in the years after the Romans abandoned Hadrian’s Wall for the bad joke it was. It was a time when centralised authority was non-existent in Scotland, when clans formed in the villages that supported the distilleries.

Angus was awarded his own tartan, and the title Angus the Crae, by his king, Hamish McBannockburn, who was the undisputed monarch of an area about the size of Ftiztroy Gardens. Angus’ eldest son, Tony, became the first McCrae (Mc meaning ‘son of’) and the proud line began there.

Centuries later, the McCraes had made themselves sufficiently unpopular with their leaders that they were invited to colonise new lands (or, as one legend has it, lured onto a boat full of whiskey and set adrift). Through many dangers and privations, they made their way to Port Phillip Bay, where they discovered that they had once again been beaten by the people they referred to as ‘the bastard English’. Claiming a windswept hill as their own, the Clan McCrae settled down to a life of alcoholism and subsistence farming, occasionally enlivened by righteous donnybrooks with the Irish farmers who lived next door. The area still bears their name today, but alas, their attempts to start a distillery there failed utterly.

Suburbs near McCrae:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay
Rosebud McCrae Dromana
Rosebud Rosebud Arthur’s Seat

Mount Eliza

In the late 1940s, property developers betwixt Mornington and Mordialloc noticed a problem: Frankston, the name given to most of the area in between them, was not a popular name. Indeed, it was associated with lower class ruffians, vagrants, miscreants, criminals and worst of all, workers. These were not at all the kind of associations that the developers wanted for what would otherwise be luxury beachfront properties. The obvious solution was to rename the area, but this led only to further arguments, as no one could agree on what the new area should be named.

In 1952, fate intervened.

On the other side of the world, Albert Frederick Arthur George Windsor – better known to most people as King George VI of England – died in his sleep. His daughter and heir, Elizabeth, cut short a visit to Kenya (en route to Australia) to return home for the funeral and coronation rites. Back in Australia, this sparked an idea.

How better to appeal to the patriotism of the buyers they sought to attract? Everyone knew that money and support for the monarchy went hand in velvet gloved hand. And so it was decided that the tallest local hill would be renamed Mt Elizabeth (it had previously been named Mount Batman), and give its name to the larger part of Frankston South. Unfortunately, the Queen did not care to have places named after her – although this news reached Australia only after signage had been ordered. One hasty consultation and some quick paint work later, Mount Eliza was christened.

Suburbs near Mount Eliza:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Frankston South Frankston South
Port Phillip Bay Mount Eliza Frankston South Frankston South
Port Phillip Bay Mount Eliza Mount Eliza Frankston South
Port Phillip Bay Mount Eliza Mount Eliza Baxter
Port Phillip Bay Mount Eliza Baxter Baxter
Mornington Mount Eliza Moorooduc Moorooduc
Mornington Mornington Moorooduc Moorooduc

Hampton

Generally known as one of the most expensive residential districts in the world – and mostly occupied by holiday houses at that – the Hamptons are those towns and suburbs clustered around the end of Long Island furthest from Manhattan, where the sea breezes (and sea fish) are at their freshest each morning.

In Melbourne, even in the boom era of the 1880s, we could only afford one of them, although it did cover a large area. Modern Hampton is the merest vestige of the land of happy holidayers that once stretched from South Road to Mordialloc Creek. But as the years went by, feuding landowners gradually broke away to form their own smaller enclaves (except in the case of Sandringham, which was voluntarily ejected by Hamptonians who felt that it was bringing their home into disrepute).

Today, Hampton is a charming beachside suburb with a laidback, almost village like atmosphere, at least in those areas around Hampton Road and railway line. But although it remains a relatively wealthy area, it is now a permanent residence for the middle class, rather than a summer playground for the upper class. C’est la vie.

Suburbs near Hampton:

Port Phillip Bay Brighton Brighton Brighton East Brighton East Bentliegh
Port Phillip Bay Hampton Hampton Hampton Hampton East Moorabbin
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Hampton Hampton Highett Highett
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Sandringham Sandringham Highett Highett

Mornington

It’s important to grasp that the letter removed from Mornington’s name was not a U. The township was not originally called Mournington, no matter how much mourning took place there in the early days, back when it was known mostly as a disease-infested swamp, the White Man’s Grave of the South. The frequent funerals (several a day at the peak of the disease’s reign) led to a town that any goth who time travelled back to it would have felt right at home in. But it’s not the deaths that gave this place its name. It’s the distance.

The missing letter wasn’t a U – it was a W. The original name of the place was Morning Town, so named because if you started out for it from Melbourne at any point after lunch time, there was little chance you’d arrive there before dawn the next day (especially considering what night time travel speeds were like before electric lighting).

Suburbs near Mornington:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Mount Eliza Baxter
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Mornington Mount Eliza Moorooduc
Port Phillip Bay Mornington Mornington Mornington Moorooduc
Port Phillip Bay Mount Martha Mount Martha Mount Martha Moorooduc

Portsea

Doctor Beaufort Montgomery III, yachtsman and overly-entitled upper class twit, was not a man to let little things like reality or good manners stand in his way. His stubbornness, allied to an even less laudable vindictive streak, had caused the end of the careers of several people who had gotten in his way. Fittingly, it was also the cause of his own career’s end, and that of his life as well.

When Montgomery landed at Sorrento, he was offended by the crass mercantilism of those who lived there (crass mercantilism being a thing he understood to be a privilege of his social class alone), and sought revenge upon them by depriving them of their livelihoods. Realising how dangerous the Rip – the narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay, a mess of cross currents and shallows – was to shipping, he hit upon the scheme of building a canal across the Mornington Peninsula where it narrows approaching the Rip.

The idea was acclaimed as an excellent solution to the problem, although Montgomery made enemies of his competitors (one who advocated a canal across the Bellarine Peninsula and another who wanted a rail link all the way to the Sorrento back beach), and he had little trouble finding investors. He had rather more trouble constructing the canal. The spine of the Mornington Peninsula is a basalt ridge line, stretching for miles. Digging would never work – it would have to be blasted out. But there was estimated to be insufficient dynamite in the whole of the nation for that job, even if the mining industry could be persuaded to part with theirs. Montogomery lost his shirt and his reputation, and eventually threw himself into the ocean in shame. His body was never recovered, although it is rumoured that Harold Holt may have been searching for it on his final swim.

Suburbs near Portsea:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay
Port Phillip Bay Portsea Sorrento
Bass Strait Portsea Sorrento
Bass Strait Bass Strait Bass Strait

Sorrento

There’s many a place in this crazy world of ours that got its English language name as a result of cultural or linguistic misunderstandings. The village that now glories in the English name of ‘goat dropping’, or the mountain whose name translates to ‘your finger you fool’ spring to mind. Others come later, when people forget the linguistic origins of a name, and use it as an English word (which is why the fully translated name of baseball’s ‘The Los Angeles Angels’ is ‘The The Angels Angels’). And still others come to pass when someone misunderstands an accent.

There has never been a more accent-misunderstanding-ing class of people than the upper class Victorian English gentleman, a species of man who regarded it as a duty to Queen, God and Country to fail to understand the accents of all those of a lower social class – which was anyone outside their own social class, anyone foreign and of course, anyone female (except the Queen). One such gentleman (and it should be understood that in his particular case, the term ‘gentleman’ is an almost entirely nominal one), a yachtsman and doctor named Beaufort Montgomery III, landed near the extremity of the Mornington Peninsula one fine morning in 1886, and was astonished to find that working class people already lived there, and claimed the property that he had imagined would be his for the disposal.

History does not record Montgomery’s response to being told he would have to pay to tie up at the dock by the descendents of the hearty Scots and Cockneys who had first settled the region, but one has to wonder what he expected. It’s a rental, innit?

Suburbs near Sorrento:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay
Portsea Sorrento Blairgowrie
Bass Strait Bass Strait Bass Strait

Frankston

The good children of Frankston – and the considerably more numerous bad children of Frankston – are all told the same story of how their town got its name. They are told the story of Frank Darlington, and his brother Dick. Frank was a merchant who specialised in foodstuffs: each week, he’d drive a cart carrying around about a ton of whatever was ready for market up to Cheltenham for sale, and return weighed down with money – Frank’s Tonne. Dick was a bushranger, who specialised in robbing Frank’s competitors from other towns. On this much, all versions of the story agree. But after this point, they diverge markedly.

In some tellings, Frank and Dick are co-conspirators, sharing the proceeds of both their endeavours. In others, Dick began his career as Frank’s partner before they had a falling out and he turned to crime. In some versions of the story, they are twins, but other versions have their births as much as a decade apart (to say nothing of the disagreement over who is the eldest). But all of this speculation is moot.

Although there was a real Dick Darlington who lived in the area, and who did make a living as a bushranger, he had no brothers (he did have six sisters, but that’s another story). Frank Darlington was not the name of Dick’s father, uncle, son or cousin, because Frank Darlington – and the stories of Frank’s Tonne – are complete fictions.

They hid a deeper truth, a far, far nastier story about a doctor who arrived in the area fleeing his native lands in Europe (where he was a nobleman), and who was rumoured to have conducted gruesome medical experiments with lightning and chemicals upon the living and the dead alike. The tale of Frank Darlington was cobbled together to cover this up. The story of Frank’s Tonne is made up of the poorly sewn-together pieces of other stories, some true, but most false. But it clings to life like a monstrous, undead thing, staggering drunkenly across the landscape and bellowing in inarticulate rage. In its way, it is oddly fitting.

Suburbs near Frankston:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Seaford Seaford Carrum Downs
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Seaford Frankston North Skye
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Frankston Frankston North Skye
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Frankston Frankston Langwarrin
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Frankston South Frankston Langwarrin
Mount Eliza Frankston South Frankston South Frankston South Langwarrin South
Mount Eliza Mount Eliza Frankston South Frankston South Baxter
Mount Eliza Baxter Baxter Baxter Baxter

Blairgowrie

The Blehgauer is a rare species of raptor, native to the Black Forest region of southern Germany. The earliest records existing of them were left by the Romans, who noted that Arminius and his tribe used them as scouts. Attempts by the Romans to domesticate them over the ensuing centuries failed miserably, but the dream of doing so became a part of Western military culture. The Burgundians, and later the Carolingians, also carried on experiments with the birds, but to no avail.

It was rumoured that the Knights Templar had succeeded in domesticating the Blehgauer, just as it was rumoured that many of the Templars escaped to Scotland after their suppression in France. The fact that the first verified use of them militarily was by Scots forces a few decades after the Templar suppression tends to support both these rumours – it is speculated that the missing ingredient to taming these birds of prey may have been a good single malt.

From there, the use of the birds evolved over the years, with a greater emphasis on falconry and the use of the birds as sentries. As various groups of Scots emigrated in the successive centuries, colonies of the Blehgauer – spelled Blairgower by the Scots – went with them. By the mid-Nineteenth century, colonies of them were extent in Ireland, Canada, the Confederate States of America, and Australia. But attempts to plant a colony on the Australian mainland failed again and again, although each time they moved a little further south in search of conditions more like those of Scotland. The final mainland attempt to create such a colony – a Blairgowrie, as the Scots called them – took place on the Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne. It was abandoned within five years, after the birds escaped (they were later found to be nesting in the west of Tasmania).

Suburbs near Blairgowrie:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay
Sorrento Blairgowrie Rye
Bass Strait Bass Strait Bass Strait

Black Rock

It’s hard to imagine anyone having a bad day at Black Rock. After all, the suburb is a pleasant beachfront area, filled with the large, genteel houses of the well to do of Melbourne, the crust too upper for Brighton. And yet, the expression is to well known not to have a basis in fact. And indeed, it does.

Notoriously, bad days in Black Rock have been had by surfers (who all too often come to grief on the rocks that dot its beaches), by drivers (who find its narrow streets and blind corners confusing), by beach partiers (who have learned the hard way that starting a fire on the beach is much easier than controlling one), by police (who have discovered that those same back streets are pretty easy to lose them on), and by the people who actually live there (who occasionally have to deal with the sheer unwarranted indignity of a non-Conservative government in their municipality, state or nation).

Actually, upon sober reflection, it turns out that just about everyone has a bad day at Black Rock.

Suburbs near Beaumaris:

Port Phillip Bay Sandringham Cheltenham
Port Phillip Bay Black Rock Cheltenham
Port Phillip Bay Black Rock Beaumaris
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Beaumaris

Rye

Listen mate, if you’d come halfway round the bloody world to find yourself gazing upon a splendid natural harbour that was damned near unusable due to the ferocity of the currents at its all-too-narrow mouth, standing on a rocky outcrop that might possibly support goats, but certainly not the sheep and cattle you’re going to have to drive overland in the hope that somewhere on the other side of the bloody bay there’d be decent pasturage for them, well, you’d be feeling pretty bloody wry too, mate.

The hilly spine of the western arm of the Mornington Peninsula is unsuitable for most cultivation (although it did provide a source of lime to early settlers, it should be understood that this means the stone, not the fruit), including, perhaps surprisingly, Rye. But then, it was that very absence that got the region its name.

Early settlers, facing the circumstances described above, quickly came to the conclusion that what this situation called for was a drink. But if they were to drink their whiskey, they realised, there was only one way to have it with rye.

Suburbs near Rye:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay
Blairgowrie Rye Rye Tootgarook
Blairgowrie Rye Rye Fingal
Bass Strait Rye Rye Fingal
Bass Strait Bass Strait St Andrews Beach Fingal

Tootgarook

“The Land of Croaking Frog” is one of the oldest settled regions in Victoria. It was originally settled by French pirates shortly after the First Fleet landed in Port Jackson (La Perouse did not give up that easily). But the settlement was short lived. In 1792, the sole prisoner of the camp, an Englishman named Vincent Bodran, escaped to join the local tribes, leaving behind a mess of finger-pointing and an influenza infection.

Bodran spent several weeks alone in the bush, and the enforced water and berries diet led to his own case of influenza clearing up before he met the local natives and joined their tribe. Behind him at the pirate camp, the French had split into two factions, each blaming the other for the escape of Bodran and the disease outbreak. Tensions rose as taunting turned to fisticuffs, and then to dueling. By the time Bodran first met members of the Boon Wurrung people, there was only one survivor at the camp, and he was deathly ill.

This survivor, Claude Murmagne, was unable to leave, as the sloop that the pirates used as their main transport was too large to crew with just one man. Instead, with his throat permanently damaged by the ravages of the disease, he was forced to live out his days at the camp, haunting the local swamp as a hunter and gatherer, and giving rise, thanks to Bodran’s sense of human, the legend of the Croaking Frog.

Suburbs near Tootgarook:

Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay
Rye Tootgarook Rosebud West
Rye Tootgarook Boneo
Fingal Fingal Boneo

Mentone

Many a musical act has been torn apart by the egos of its members. Most of these ruptures take place long before the act in question gets anywhere near stardom, since its the unrealistic expectations of would-be stars that tend to cause these sorts of disputes. But occasionally, an act becomes successful, and it’s the new found pressures that come with that success that cause the problems.

In 1955, an early boy band, a four part harmony ensemble from Melbourne found this out the hard way. The four members of the group were Johnny Satin (born John Southern) from Thomastown; Harry Velvet (born Henry Vailington) of St Albans; Bruce McEwan (born Ewan McBruce), who grew up in Laverton; and Nelson Riddell (born Nelson Riddell) of Mordialloc, and in October 1955, when their first big hit, “Girl, You Like Ice Cream” hit the national top ten, they were each 18 years of age. Old enough that the money went to them instead of their parents.

Infighting among the group began almost at once, as arguments about who was allowed to dress in what colour, who was allowed to by flowers for which girl, who was allowed to adjudicate these arguments, and who was allowed to hire a new manager to hire the one that got fired for unpopular adjudications began to tear the boys apart. To be fair, the boy band was an artificial construct riven by class, political and religious disagreements, and after the sacking of the manager who’d put them together and got them this far, it was always going to come down to who could afford the best lawyers.

And that was Riddell, whose official biography mis-stated his suburb of origin by a small distance: his parents lived in Beaumaris, not Mordialloc. In short order, his dad’s lawyers had seen to it that Riddell owned the band’s name, logo, publishing and royalty rights, and costumes. (He would have taken the instruments too, but his father persuaded him that messing with session musos was more trouble than it was worth.) Riddell returned to the streets of his childhood, and spent the money on a huge property he named after the band (just to mess with his former bandmates): the Men Tones would be commemorated forever in it, even after subdivision.

Nelson Riddell was murdered in 1958 by a person or persons unknown. Parts of his dismembered body were found in Thomastown, St Albans and Laverton, but how they got there remains a mystery.

Suburbs near Mentone:

Cheltenham Cheltenham Cheltenham Moorabbin Airport
Beaumaris Mentone Mentone Moorabbin Airport
Beaumaris Mentone Parkdale Mordialloc
Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay Port Phillip Bay