A-Z of Melbourne Suburbs

April 30, 2015

For those who have ever lived or visited our beautiful city of Melbourne, they will know that there is an ongoing debate about the pros and cons of living Northside versus Southside. In Melbourne, your postcode defines you. While someone from Toorak may be classed as an upmarket toff, those from Frankston are equally judged as their own breed of new-age bogans. Aside from a suburbs proximity to cafes, bars, shopping and public transport, the stereotype that has been generated around each suburb significantly influences property buying trends and descisions. While researching into the suburbs of Melbounre we had a look at where the names of subrbs originated from. It's interesting to see the British influences of names as well as our Indigenous heritage. We compiled a list of our favorite suburbs and thier origins for you to enjoy.


Abbotsford was named after a shallow water crossing used by the Abbot of Melrose Abbey in Scotland. It is also thought to derive from the Aboriginal words "Carran-Carranulk", meaning prickly myrtle.


Brighton was developed privately in 1842 as a result of a special survey by Henry Dendy. The name is thought to mean "place of sorrow", after an apparent attack on Boonwurrung clans people by the Ganai tribe, which resulted in many deaths.


Reports suggest it was named after Carlton Gardens in London or Carlton House, the residence of the Prince of Wales.


Docklands is named after the former swamp in the area that was used as a dock with a large network of wharves and rail infrastructure from the 1880s. By the 1990s the dock was mostly abandoned, but the area started to be renewed when Docklands Stadium was built in 1996.


It is presumed that the name of Essendon was derived from the town of Essendon in Hertfordshire, England.

Flagstaff Hill

Originally called Burial Hill, this rise at the western end of the city grid was renamed when the flagstaff was erected in September 1840 for signalling shipping activities in Hobsons Bay.


Originally known as Upper Hawthorn, its name is attributed to a property known as Glen Ferrie built in 1840 by solicitor Peter Ferrie on the south side of Gardiners Creek.


Named after Hawksburn House, whose owners in the 1850s thought the nearby creek resembled a Scottish burn.


The name (from the novel by Sir Walter Scott) was given to a farm established in the 1840s by Archibald Thom.


Charles Joseph La Trobe arrived in Melbourne in 1839 and named his estate Jolimont ("pretty hill") after his wife's Swiss home.


Named after Kensington, London, England.


Named after Peter Lalor, the leader of the miners' rebellion at the Eureka Stockade.


Melbourne began on the wrong side of the law. In May 1835, a syndicate led by John Batman explored Port Phillip Bay, looking for suitable sites for a settlement. Batman claimed to have signed a "treaty" with Aboriginal leaders, giving him ownership of almost 250,000 hectares of land. Three months later, another syndicate of farmers, led by John Pascoe Fawkner, entered the Yarra River aboard the Enterprize, establishing the first permanent settlement.

New South Wales Governor Richard Bourke declared Batman's treaty illegal and the settlers to be trespassers. But within two years, more than 350 people and 55,000 sheep had landed, and the squatters were establishing large wool-growing properties in the district. Bourke was forced to accept the rapidly growing township, which he named in honour of the Prime Minister of England, William Lamb, known as Lord Melbourne. Melbourne is also said to mean "middle brook" or "the settlement".

Nar Nar Goon

Means native bear, sloth or koala.


A large number of she-oak trees grew on the site of the town when settlement began and these were cues for an early settler to name the suburb Oakleigh, after a park near his hometown in Hertfordshire in England


George Langhorne, who ran a missionary for Aborigines from 1836, called this area "Pur-ra-ran", using local indigenous words believed to mean "land partially surrounded by water". Surveyor-General Robert Hoddle later changed the name to "Prahran" on an 1840 map of the Port Phillip district.


Named after the Earl of Richmond who became the first Tudor king. It was also the name of his palace and the hill in Richmond upon Thames on which it was built.

St Kilda

St Kilda was proclaimed a municipal district in 1855, a borough in 1863 and a city in 1890. The Aboriginal name for the locality was Euro Goroke, referring to a local stone used to sharpen weapons. Initially called Fareham in 1842, the locality was officially named St Kilda by Lieutenant Governor Charles La Trobe after the small vessel Lady of St Kilda, which in turn was named after an island off Scotland.


The suburb is named after Toorak House, built for Melbourne merchant James Jackson on 108 acres he purchased in 1849. After Jackson died at sea in 1850, the house was rented to the first governor of Victoria, Sir Charles Hotham, until Government House was completed. The name is also said to mean "reedy grass".


The name Upfield reflects the open country in the area before it became more settled.


Vermont which is French for "green hill" was possibly suggested by government botanist Ferdinand von Mueller.


Explorers Hume and Hovell called the local river "Arndell" after Hovell's father-in-law, while Melbourne pioneer John Batman called it the "Exe", but Aboriginal people named it "Weariby", meaning spine or backbone. Government surveyor Darke adapted this name when he officially surveyed the district in 1839-1840.

Yarra Glen

Yarra Glen takes its name from the adjacent river. The river "Yarra Yarra" was named by John Helder Wedge in 1835 and means "waterfall". "Ever flowing" and "red gum trees" are also commonly accepted meanings. Yarra Glen was previously called Yarra Flats.

Suburb origins: Herald Sun
Images: That's Melbourne, Time Out, Melbourne Cocktails,