Posted by Admin on 25 July 2011, 11:48 am

The postcard showed fifteen penguins. It was a photograph taken locally by A. J. Murray of Cowes. Mr Murray’s Cowes, however, was not the Isle of Wight one, but its namesake on Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia, and it was this picture that inspired me to discover how many places ‘down under’ had names which corresponded with those in Vectis. In a list of Australian and Tasmanian post codes I found nearly thirty – Blackwater, Cowes, Freshwater, Kingston, Medina, Mount Pleasant, Needles, Newbridge, Newport, Newtown, Northwood, Osborne, Ryde, Rylstone, Sandown, St Helens, Ventnor, and Woodside – some appearing more than once.

Referring to K. A. Austin’s Phillip Island Sketchbook, we see the island, which lies seventy miles south-east of Melbourne, to be fifteen miles long and six wide, with the Bass Strait washing its southern side. Its eastern end is joined to the mainland by a concrete bridge 700 yards long and 40 feet high. Halfway along its northern shore stands Cowes – the town reputed to have been named in 1865 by Commander Henry Laird Cox, R.N. Unlike Cowes, I.W., the seafront still has its 1870 pier.

Gently sloping beaches and calm water make Cowes a popular resort. Before 1940 no bridge existed, and the majority of visitors disembarked there after a sea journey from Stony Point.

Aligned with the pier rises the Isle of Wight Hotel, originally built in 1870 by Francis Bauer, but destroyed by fire in 1925. Under Bauer’s management (he had been the Governor of Victoria’s chef) the hotel became one of Australia’s best.

Midway between Cowes and the island’s western extremity we find Ventnor where, in a paradisiacal garden studio Eric Juckert, a potter, produces glazed pottery in red, green and shades of blue. Using local clays, he moulds also matt-finished pottery.

Also at Ventnor is located the grave of Captain William Phillip Grossard who, in 1868, was accidentally killed when teaching a man to use a double-barrelled gun. Today his name is carried by a point of land and by a ninety-foot wooden tower from which lights help ships to navigate the Western Passage.

Rivalling in popularity the koala bears, the fairy penguins (Eudyptula minor) attract thousands of visitors to watch at sunset their return in what is termed the Penguin Parade, which occurs on Summerland Beach about three miles from Ventnor.

Separated from Phillip Island by a thousand miles plus, Blackwater in central Queensland, once a settlement of twelve houses, now is a flourishing coal town that, according to A History of Queensland by Ross Fitzgerald, by 1970 was exporting 2.4 million tonnes.

Moving south to New South Wales, we find that Freshwater was the original name of a suburb that runs north from Sydney Harbour. It was, however, renamed Harbord in honour of Lady Carrington, formerly the Hon. Cecilia Harbord. One of the newest Manly ferries is called Freshwater.

In F. K. Crowley’s book,  Australia’s Western Third, we are told that ‘late in 1952 it was announced that Commonwealth Oil Refineries would build a forty million pound refinery at Kwinana. Broken Hill Proprietary also announced its intention to construct a steel rolling mill and fence-post factory at a cost of four million. The government provided a railway line, and laid out the new town of Medina.

The name Kingston appears four times – in Queensland, Central Territory, Victoria, and Tasmania; the last being ten miles south of Hobart.

It has been suggested that the name Mount Pleasant was given by settlers to any plot of high ground. The one in Western Australia is quoted as being on the highest point on the 480-hectare estate of Buckland, one of the few colonial country mansions in that state. Situated in the Avon Valley, seventy miles east of Perth, the building, which began as a small cottage, now made of locally quarried granite, has twenty-two rooms.

From Christine Stickley’s book, The Old Charm of Penrith, we learn that a new housing estate in the Cranebrook area which is called Mount Pleasant now occupies a site where until the 1950s a stone house erected circa 1825 stood among olive trees. The owners, Samuel and Rosetta Terry, had convict servants who probably were luckier than most, for Mr Terry disapproved of flogging. Edward, Samuel’s son inherited the property and left it to his sister, the wife of John Hosking, Sydney’s first mayor.

Returning to Tasmania, we find Needles, a village thirty miles from Launceston, which is on the River Tamar some two hundred miles north of Hobart. My correspondent, Mrs Cole, could find nothing to account for its unusual name. She is, however, confident that the name Needles Island (New South Wales) is descriptive. The island lies in the Cootong area, a coastal strip south-east of the estuary of the Murray River.

Newbridge, New South Wales, is a township between Bathurst and Blainey, two towns on the rail route west, beyond the Blue Mountains. The name may be taken literally. It refers to a bridge over the railway line. The state of Victoria also has a Newbridge.

With regard to Newport, New South Wales, plenty of information is available. It stretches across a long peninsular that runs north from Sydney. On one side it has the Pittwater (the calm and many-branched mouth of the Hawkesbury River), on the other the main beach borders the Pacific. The coastline is a series of headlands and beaches. The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club is located on the Pittwater side. Many of the streets have Aboriginal names, but among them are Beaconsfield and Gladstone.

We are told in Alan Sharpe’s Manly to Palm Beach – Pictorial Memories that during the early 19th century Newport, a place of thickly wooded hills and swampy flats, was almost inaccessible from the settlement of Sydney, and that few settlers who applied for land grants remained there permanently. One of the earliest grants was given in 1814 by Governor Macquarie to Robert Campbell. It was for seven hundred acres and covered land from the present Beaconsfield Street to Bardo Road, and stretched from the ocean to the Pittwater.

The land around the present shopping centre was split between Martin Burke and James McNally. Burke cleared part of his fifty acres and built a cottage. Later, in 1842, to settle a debt he sold thirty acres and his house for thirty six pounds ten shillings to John Farrell, a Newportonian who grazed cattle between the foothills and the sea.

For a decade following 1830 the shores of the Pittwater were notorious for smuggling. Barrels of rum bound from Sydney to the south seas often went no farther than Broken Bay, and it was there that two hundred casks of brandy and fifty-nine puncheons of rum en-route for the Dutch East Indies were unloaded from the Fair Barbarian and stored in a cave.

In 1842 Daniel Farrell and his convict servant, James Tooney, discovered the cache and informed the customs authorities. That night the police schooner Ariel accompanied by a whale boat transported armed men to Pittwater where nine more casks were found. Although strong suspicion had fallen on a man named Robert Henderson, no evidence was found to convict him; but the original suppliers of the liquor, John Ross and R. G. Dunlop, were fined £7,741. In 1843 a customs house was built at Barrenjoey. Today its ruins may be seen near the lighthouse.

In 1879 Newport, still a small hamlet, began to develop when Charles Edward Jeannerett, owner of the Parramatta and River Steamers, in collaboration with George Pile built a pier there, and the following year erected the Newport Hotel. With his steamers calling four times a week, he then inaugurated a coach service between Manly and Newport.

The year 1888 saw the opening of the first school. It had nineteen pupils and was held in a tent. By 1928 there were about 220 residents, but Newport was still regarded as a weekend resort.

From its inception, the Newport Hotel was the centre of activity. In 1913 the single storey building was replaced by a two-storey one with twenty bedrooms. An advertisement by the Craig family who ran it from 1900 to 1924 gives their terms. They began at six shillings a day or thirty shillings a week. The table d’hôte was listed at two shillings. The hotel, damaged by fire in 1967, was rebuilt in 1971.

For a study in contrasts, one might measure the difference between rural Newtown, I.W., and Newtown, N.S.W. An article by Joseph Glascott in the Sydney Morning Herald describes it admirably. Beginning with King Street, he says it mixes the faces, food and smells of an East European bazaar. Many Greek and Yugoslav immigrants are there, and their delicatessens and restaurants supply the food peculiar to their homelands. He mentions the many ‘foto’ studios that provide the Greeks with the photographs with which they love to celebrate all family occasions.

Both King Street and Newman Street have classified for preservation by the National Trust of Australia. Glascott writes of the former’s ‘fine curves and relatively unspoilt line of two and three-storey Victorian façades’. Winding byways in the area reveal many noteworthy houses. Victoria Street has a row showing Dutch influence, and Munni Street and Rochford Street have elegant reminders of another era. Rochford Street, incidentally, takes its name from a convict, Bernard Rochford, to whom in 1830 the district was given by his master, Nicholas Divine.

In the ‘twenties Newtown had eight cinemas, one seating 3000. From 1940 to 1950 some of Australia’s boxing champions trained in Ern McQuillan’s gymnasium. In a now derelict theatre the Elizabethan Trust once staged its productions. Victoria, too, has a Newtown.

Living in Northwood, I was pleased to learn that Northwood, N.S.W., is an attractive suburb of Sydney on the Lane Cove River. It derives its name from a house built by Mrs Jane Davy.

Of Osborne, South Australia, I have no information, but I have a little concerning a two-storey house of classical design beautifully situated in pastoral N.S.W. Called Osborne, it dates from 1820 which, if it were named after Queen Victoria’s home, would indicate a change of names.

Ryde, one of Sydney’s largest suburbs, is divided into Top, North and West Ryde, and extends from St Anne’s Church (1826) to the Parramatta River. It includes a huge shopping centre, Macquarie University, and an industrial area. In earlier times part of it was known as Eastern Farms. The Origins of Place Names in N.S.W. states it was named after the Isle of Wight town – Ryde, meaning ‘a stream’. It says also that an early resident, G. M. Pope, came from Ryde, I.W.

A local ‘on dit’ says that ‘Granny Smith’ apples originated in this district. And it is a tradition that Bennelong was buried here. He was an Aboriginal ‘adopted’ by Governor Phillip. His name was given to Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour where the Opera House stands.

A photograph in Joyce Cole’s Parramatta River Notebook shows Ryde Railway Bridge spanning the river with the ferry-boat Pheasant about to pass under it.

A hundred and fifty miles from Sydney lies Rylstone, N.S.W. Its altitude is 1895 feet.

Writing of holidays in Tasmania, Joyce Cole recalls St Helens as being ideal for all aquatic activities. It is on the north-east coast, with the land-locked waters of George Bay making a safe haven for pelicans. Crayfish abound, and these are quick-frozen for the American market.

Apart from its race-tracks (horse and motor), Sandown, Victoria, has little of importance. Its namesake in Parramatta’s Redbank Wharf area (N.S.W.) is surrounded by factories. The Origins of Place Names in N.S.W. confirms it was named after Sandown, I.W. – the name meaning ‘water meadow by the beach’.

At present I know nothing about Woodside, Victoria. Of Woodside, S.A., I was informed it is ten miles north-east of Aldgate, and that it was established by James Johnston who named it after a village in Scotland.

T. C. Hudson

© T. C. Hudson.
This article may not be reproduced without prior permission of the author.

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