Mike Lavery, a friend of Hillbers based in Melbourne, Victoria, takes a look at Ringwood and other British place names that now have meaning for Australians too.
Welcome to the lands of the Wurundjeri Woiwrrung people of the Kulin Nation.
In the middle of a vast and varied country, running from the sea to the Great Dividing Range, over rolling hills and valleys, bestriding the Mullum Mullum Creek, part of the greater city of Naarm you find yourself in the gateway to the wider east.
Welcome… to Ringwood.
Yup. Not the quiet little New Forest market town with the picturesque centre, all old buildings and popular breweries, this is the much more industrial, traffic-bound suburb of Melbourne in Victoria.
Other British place names in Australia
It’s always interesting to see the names that survive to commemorate a colonial past; those in Australia tend to lean towards the Industrial; Doncaster, Blackburn, Preston, Tottenham. In the Hunter Valley in New South Wales lies a whole plethora of names hauntingly familiar to exiled Geordies everywhere; Newcastle, Hexham, Wallsend, Jesmond, Gateshead, Morpeth…the list goes on.
So, it’s unusual to find a name like Ringwood among British place names in Australia – it’s a name more redolent of Hampshire’s agricultural heritage. Which this Australian settlement was initially; this was a rural, agricultural landscape, as was most of Victoria in the days before the Gold Rush of the late 19th century.
And should you wonder if the Hampshire connection is anything more that a coincidence, attention should be drawn to the nearby suburb of Lyndhurst, home in the past to a toxic waste processing facility (make your own jokes here). Melbourne’s Ringwood is home to a clocktower war memorial, a Cadbury chocolate factory and a vast and labyrinthine shopping centre called Eastland (Melbourne has four of these; Northland, Southland, Eastland and – in a logical conclusion – Highpoint). It also has as rail connections to the rest of the city and a multicultural and diverse community. All of which is a world away from the leafy interior of the south coast of England, and full of cognitive dissonance for visitors from that far-away, exotic land of squirrels, otters, swans and pheasants.
- Ringwood,_Avon_Bridge_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1362907 (1): Wikimedia