The story behind street names.

Soon we will need to name our new street.  It’s an opportunity for its story to be told.  At the moment we call it 1 Dianella because that’s its original address!  Dianella Walk is one of ten streets within the Aldinga Arts ecovillage named after indigenous flora.  But with land division imminent, a new (private) road will be established and it’s time to get together with intending buyers, neighbours and Onkaparinga Council to agree on a name!

Street names can be a unifying part of an area, giving it a sense of history and place. Historically, street naming passed through three distinct periods. It began with a British, imperial and aristocratic tone (King Street); transitioned into a more Australian, civic and nationalistic form (Banksia Cres) ; then finally focused on aspirational references (Dolphin Boulevard). But whether for God, king and country or a popular TV show, the naming of new streets is about creating a story and adding meaning to a place.  Give it a local connection and its story is amplified.

Soon after we migrated to Australia in the 60’s my parents purchased a new home on the suburban fringe – Oaklands Park.  It was a dirt road.  I remember the deep trenches filled with gluey mud before the cement storm water pipes were laid.  This was in the days when government, not developers were responsible for new urban infrastructure.  The street was our playground – the pipes, soil and trenches.  We watched with excitement as new streets and cul-de-sacs were created seemingly overnight, and with them the skeletal wooden house frames.  But what I found most intriguing about these newborn streets was the final, finishing touch – the arrival of a little van of men who would shoo us away and erect the street signs, at last providing our playground with a more official title. Trott Grove was so named because a median strip conserved the remnants of old Mr Trott’s almond grove.  Mr Trott himself remained in his old homestead – a much reduced quarter acre of land and a huge tin fence to separate him from the rest of us.  It was from his farm land and almond orchards that the entire suburb had been subdivided. Once we had named streets and street signs, the area suddenly seemed to have its own identity, one that offered a richer and deeper story. My street was named after real people, real names.  Hamilton Street was nearby – the vineyards of the historic Hamilton Winery (where my dad worked) sadly being bulldozed to make way for more homes:  Moselle Ave, Riesling Ave, Burgundy Way, Ewell Ave.  The street names capture and preserve the history, even if the vineyards and almond orchards are long gone.

Do you have any thoughts on what the new street name should be?