Stupid suburb boundaries of Melbourne

After my recent look at how Melbourne’s suburb boundaries were created in 1998, you might think they would be clear and logical lines drawn along main roads, freeways, railway lines, creeks and rivers. The answer – of course not!

Melbourne CBD skyline in the distance, new housing estates taking shape at Tarneit

Discovering the mess!

The story starts when I was randomly looking around in VicNames, which contains Victoria’s official suburb boundaries.

When I found this mess of a boundary between South Melbourne and Albert Park.

The boundary zigzagging along back fences.

And dodging individual houses that happened to extend the full depth of the block back when the boundary was defined in 1998.


I’m not the only one to have noticed

I mentioned this oddity to a mate, and he pointed me to a pocket of Greensborough where the only way in or out is via the neighbouring suburbs of St Helena and Eltham North.

A long thin sliver of Greensborough that is trapped between the Metropolitian Ring Road and Bundoora.

And strip of Brighton East that falls under the City of Glen Eira – thanks to the suburb boundary following the back fences of Thomas Street, while the LGA boundary is the middle of the street.

Rich toffs with too much time on their hands

I mentioned local lobbying in my original piece on suburb boundaries – residents wanted the cachet of an address in a fancy suburb, so they could profit from an increased sale price when it came time to move house.

Trio of terraced houses on Gatehouse Street, Parkville

So have a look at the boundary of Armadale, Malvern and Glen Iris jumping along Glenferrie and Tooronga Roads.

The boundaries of Sandringham, Highett and Hampton refused to follow Highett, Bluff and Wickham Roads.

Canterbury, Balwyn and Surrey Hills jump all around Mont Albert and Whitehorse Roads.

But it wasn’t only eastern suburbs toffs in on the game – Ascot Vale claims the south side of Kent Street from Flemington.

And there is a pocket of Essendon that heads south of Buckley Street, snatching the private schools in the area from Moonee Ponds.

And the rest

Oak Park in Melbourne’s north can’t decide on which streets it is going to follow.

The boundary of Preston and Reservoir also dances around instead of sticking to the middle of the street.

Bayswater and Boronia refused to draw a line down the middle of Scoresby and Devenish Roads.

And Springvale South and Noble Park – their boundary follows the back streets, but still jumps around random houses.

The only upside to this mess – the rest of Melbourne’s suburb boundaries are much cleaner looking!

Kangaroo Paw Court – the house in two suburbs

After my recent deep dive into how suburb boundaries came to be and the changing boundaries of the City of Brimbank, I found another curiosity – a house located in two suburbs.

Google Street View

Down the rabbit hole

The following line in Government Gazette G19 Thursday 10 May 2018, page 936, got me started.

Part of Keilor to Taylors Lakes

The south-eastern corner of Taylors Lakes is being amended to incorporate properties within Kangaroo Paw Court, the boundary will run along the north-eastern boundary of PS731295. All other boundaries remain unchanged

So where exactly is Kangaroo Paw Court? I took a look at Google Maps, and it’s a modern townhouse subdivision located in the middle of early-1980s suburbia.

But I did find something useful in the local Star Weekly newspaper.

New boundary for suburbs
26 February 2018

Taylors Lakes’ suburb boundary is set to be extended.

The extension means a section of the boundary between Taylors Lakes and Keilor will be moved to incorporate all properties on Kangaroo Paw Court into Taylors Lakes.

Kangaroo Paw Court is a subdivision of 25 houses. The boundary between Taylors Lakes and Keilor currently divides the court, meaning three houses are in Taylors Lakes, 18 are in Keilor and the other two are partially located in both suburbs.

In December 2016, Australia Post wrote to the Brimbank council, advising that the current location of the boundary is confusing for residents and mail services. It requested the boundary be moved.

The Office of Geographic Names advised the council to address the issue by extending the boundary of Taylors Lakes to incorporate the Keilor subdivision.

At its October meeting last year, the council decided to hold a 30-day community consultation process on the proposal.

No submissions were received during the consultation period.

Following the consultation period, the council determined to move the Taylors Lakes boundary and lodge its proposal with the Registrar of Geographic Names for endorsement and registration.

Not one, but two houses located in two suburbs. 🤯

So how did it come to be?

I opened up VicNames and had a look at the current boundary between Taylors Lakes and Keilor – it clearly skirts the development of Kangaroo Paw Court.


But in Google Maps the boundaries are different – one can clearly see the boundary cutting the subdivision in half. Looks like they’re using old data!

Google Maps

So why did the boundary follow that line, and not the current one? I got into my time machine (aka Google Earth) and stepped through old aerial imagery to find this scene in 2014.

Google Earth

Kangaroo Paw Court didn’t exist: the frontage to Wanaka Drive being two detached houses, and the land at the rear being one big country homestead – located beneath 500 kV high voltage power lines!

I then jumped back to the modern day, and it all made sense.

Google Earth

Someone bought the big country homestead at the end of Denbigh Court in Keilor, and extended the street west to allow the strip of land between the power lines and the creek to be subdivided into residential blocks, called “Keilor Valley Estate”.

Real estate advertisement

While the pocket of land on the southern side of the power lines was sold separately, with the houses at 42 and 44 Wanaka Drive, Taylors Lakes purchased to provide access to the otherwise landlocked development site.


And the rump bit in the middle with 500 kV high voltage power lines running over the top?

500 kV transmission lines heads west from Keilor Terminal Station to Sydenham

It’s up for sale – 1.64 hectares of residential zoned land for the bargain price of $1.1 million!

Real estate advertisement

At least the real estate agent is honest.

Measuring at 4.05 acres and positioned in a corner pocket of Keilor offering an opportunity ideal for contractors to store materials, hobbyists that enjoy outdoor activities and many others alike.

Please Note: Powerlines run across the land and restrict the use of a large portion. Research into these restrictions through the relevant authorities is highly suggested.

Footnote: digging a bit deeper

The consolidation of the three pieces of land into two development sites happened rather quickly:

Kangaroo Paw Court was the first portion to be developed, with the first townhouses sold in December 2014, presumably off the plan, with a check of Google Earth showing:

  • house at 42 Wanaka Drive demolished by December 2014,
  • concrete slabs poured by April 2015,
  • some townhouses with roofs by August 2015,
  • roofs all finished by February 2016,
  • driveways started by March 2016,
  • and all seemingly finished by February 2017.

The development of the rest of the land took some time: November 2015 saw Amendment C179 to the Brimbank Planning Scheme was advertised, cleaning up the zoning applied to what was then known as 7 Denbigh Court, Taylors Lakes .

Brimbank Planning Scheme Amendment C179

Adopted in April 2016, it removed the Urban Floodway Zone, and replaced it with the Neighbourhood Residential Zone 3 that applied to the rest of the parcel.

Brimbank Planning Scheme Amendment C179

Land sales at the new “Keilor Valley Estate” on Denbigh Court commenced in 2016, with three blocks already sold by February 2016.

Footnote: plans of subdivision

Plans of subdivision divide land into two or more new parcels of land that can be dealt with separately.

Looking at the VicPlan data, I noticed the ‘new’ subdivisions bore a “PS” prefix, while the ‘existing’ ones had a “LP” prefix.

There had to be a reason – and I found it in this “Principles of Re-establishment” guidance note for surveyors.

Plans pre-Subdivision Act 1988

• Lodged Plans LP
• Plans of Consolidation CP
• Registered or Strata Plans RP and SP
• Cluster Plans CS
• Letter Plans A-, B-, etc

Plans post-Subdivision Act 1988

• Plans of Subdivision PS
• Plans of Consolidation PC
• Boundary Plans BP
• Title Plans TP

So the “Lodged Plans” that created the suburbs of Taylors Lakes pre-dated 1987, while the “Plans of Subdivision” came later.

Photos from ten years ago: June 2012

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is June 2012.

Down by the tracks

We start this month down at the west end of the Melbourne CBD, where the apartment blocks of Docklands towered over wasteland of railway sidings.

Metro Trains' T373, T369 and T377 stabled at the Wagon Storage Yard with the CFSX generator wagon

In 2015 the rail freight terminal was relocated to make way for the ‘E-Gate’ urban renewal project, but it was not to be – Transurban came along with their unsolicited West Gate ‘Tunnel’ idea, and now the land is being covered with a tangle of elevated roads forming the Wurundjeri Way extension.

Next stop, over to Murrumbeena and Hughesdale.

Looking down the line at Murrumbeena station

The tracks used to be down at ground level, surrounded by trees.

Alstom Comeng on the down at Hughesdale

But the entire section is now parkland, the railway line being elevated onto the ‘skyrail’ viaduct in 2018 to remove multiple level crossings.

Next stop, Coburg station.

Coburg station, looking up the line at the original station building on platform 1

That station building is still there today, but the tracks are not – a new elevated station was built on the site in 2020, removing the Bell Street level crossing.

And finally, the complex mess of cars, trams and trains crossing Burke Road at Gardiner station..

EDI Comeng 534M passes through the tram square at Gardiner on a down Glen Waverley service

The railway lines was placed beneath the road in 2016, removing the 30 km/h speed restriction for trams and trains.

Metcard vs Myki

The rollout of Myki to trams in Melbourne was underway, with the “you don’t need to touch off on trams” message struggling to get out.

'Use any reader to touch on / Only touch off if your trip is Zone 2 only' message at a tram stop

Diehard Metcard users still pumping coins into the ticket machines onboard trams.

Diehard Metcard users pumping coins into the vending machines onboard trams

Railway stations also still had their 1990s-era ‘Booking Office Machines’ used to issue Metcards.

Booking Office Machine (BOM) used to issue Metcards by station staff

And crowded Myki gates at railway stations was still an issue.

Lets follow the clock when closing the barriers, not the crowds

Overflow gates having been installed in an attempt to handle crowds, but often went unused.

Who cares if the crowds are still there: management wants the barriers closed!

Ding ding

In recent years many Melbourne CBD tram stops have closed – the one at the corner of William and Lonsdale Street is one of them.

Z3.180 northbound on William at Lonsdale with a Queen Vic Market shortworking

A decade ago, the work on the platform stops along Swanston Street was still getting dragged along.

Work continues on the Swanston and Collins Street platform stop, they are *still* digging stuff?

The corner of Swanston and Collins Street a construction site for months.

Progress in slow motion at the Swanston and Collins Street platform stop

As was the tram stop at Swanston and Bourke Street.

Hmmm, a few months after work started and this is starting to look like a tram stop

It took until July 2012 for them to finally open to passengers.

Also this month the ‘H’ crossing at the intersection of Victoria and Peel Streets was being renewed.

Replacing the H crossing at Victoria and Peel Streets

Fresh tram track being installed where routes 58 and 57 intersect, during a weekend shutdown of the complete intersection.

Still connecting up new H crossing at Victoria and Peel Street to the rest of the track

On the buses

A decade ago Melbourne’s bus operators still had their fleets painted in their own corporate livery – Ventura in two-tone blue with yellow highlights.

Ventura #892 5968AO on a route 742 service at Glen Waverley station

Driver Bus Lines had white with blue and teal stripes.

Driver Bus Lines #23 7532AO on a route 623 service at Glen Waverley station

And Grenda had red and yellow stripes.

Grenda #253 6874AO on a route 850 service at Glen Waverley station

Ventura still operates bus services in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, but the routes once operated by Driver Bus Lines were acquired by CDC Melbourne in 2013, and the Grenda brand has now been absorbed into the Ventura Group.


Work on Regional Rail Link was quite disruptive through Footscray, as the rail corridor was expanded to fit two new tracks.

'Business are still open while the road is closed' banners

The first section of the new Nicholson Street bridge in place.

First part of the new Nicholson Street bridge in place

Ballarat and Bendigo trains started using the new tracks from July 2014, with Geelong trains following from June 2015

Also in the west the expansion of Highpoint Shopping Centre was underway, tower cranes at work on a $300 million extension featuring a David Jones store.

Construction work at Highpoint viewed from Ascot Vale to the east

Which wasn’t a successful move for the high end department store – in 2021 they shrunk the store to a single floor, to make way for Kmart!

While over in Ascot Vale, the abandoned Racecourse Hotel had been set on fire.

Fire damage to the abandoned Racecourse Hotel

After laying empty for many years.

Hotel all burnt out, but the trashed motel rooms survived

The site was cleared soon after, and after many years of planning objections, the 22 storey ‘Only Flemington‘ apartment tower was eventually built on the site.

And everything else

While passing through West Footscray I found the infamous Sims Supermarket – known for their ‘The Price Crusher’ slogan.

Sims Supermarket: 'The Price Crusher'

The small supermarket chain went into administration in 2017, and the store is now an IGA.

On the subject of supermarkets, I found two Coles stores across the street from each other in Coburg.

Two Coles supermarkets next door to each other in Coburg, Victoria

One of the stores has always been as a Coles, while the other was a rebranded Bi-Lo store, trading beside each other until one was closed in 2021 and turned into artist studios.

I also found a Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car.

Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car on trial

The custom registration plates indicating it was part of the Victorian Government’s five year ‘Electric Vehicle Trial‘ launched in October 2010.

Special registration plate - "005 EVT"

While a mid-term report was published in 2013, the final report of the trial has not been published.

I also went past the Port of Melbourne to photograph some container ships.

Container ship 'JPO Scorpius' at Swanson Dock West

A location now inaccessible following the expansion of the Swanson Dock container terminal.

And finally, I went for a walk over the surprisingly leafy looking Western Ring Road.

Looking west over the Western Ring Road at Industrial Avenue, Thomastown

At the Craigieburn Bypass interchange.

Looking east over the Western Ring Road at Industrial Avenue, Thomastown

But a decade on, the same scene is covered in concrete – the recently completed M80 Upgrade added additional lanes between Sydney Road and Edgars Road at a cost of $518 million.


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

Ardeer’s enclaves in Sunshine West

I’ve been writing a bit about suburbs in recent weeks, and here is the trigger for the whole rabbit hole – places called “Ardeer” that are located in the middle of Sunshine West.

Western Ring Road diverts around the suburb of Ardeer

The boundaries

Enclaves are a territory that is entirely surrounded by the territory of another, but the border between Sunshine West and Ardeer is dead simple – north of Forrest Street and the railway line is Ardeer and postcode 3022, everything south is Sunshine West and postcode 3020. map

And the “enclaves” of Ardeer

There is a Coles supermarket in Sunshine West, located on The Avenue.

But for some reason, Coles call it their “Ardeer” store.

Down the road is a Coles Express service station, and Hungry Jacks restaurant.

Coles Express call it their “Ardeer” location, and gives the address as Ardeer 3022.

But Hungry Jacks calls their store “Ardeer” with a Sunshine West address, but a 3022 postcode.

Sunshine College had an “Ardeer” campus on Glengala Road, Sunshine West.

But gave their address as Ardeer, postcode 3022.

And finally, down the street is Ardeer South Primary School.

Who gives their address as Sunshine West, postcode 3020.

Clear as mud?

Time to do some digging

My first stop was the digital version of edition 1 circa 1966, and look at that – Ardeer continued south of the railway line into what is now Sunshine West, where every single one of the oddly named “Ardeer” locations I’d found are now located.

But when did the boundary change?

My next stop was the locality names and boundary maps maintained by the state government.

Of interest is the change register found at the bottom of each map, listing the issues of the Government Gazette in which boundary changes have been published in.

But after looking up each listed issue of the Government Gazette, I came up blank – none of the listed changes affected the boundary of Sunshine West and Ardeer.

My next step was to go digging through my collection of old street directories.

How many street directories does one really need?

And after a whole lot of flicking around on maps 39 and 40, I landed on editions 26 and 27 – from 1999 and 2000 respectively.

Edition 26 from 1999 has Ardeer stretching south of the railway line into what is now Sunshine West.

The boundary of the two following on the high voltage transmission line easement.

A lone house sits beneath the transmission lines

Which was once reserved for a freeway.

Single house at 164 Glengala Road, Sunshine West

Then jumping forward to edition 27 from 2000, the portion of Ardeer south of the railway was now Sunshine West.

Which reflects the current postcode boundaries.

Cartodraft Victoria & Melbourne Postcode Map

Postcode 3020 featuring the suburbs of Albion, Glengala, Sunshine, Sunshine North and Sunshine West.

And the far smaller postcode 3022 with Ardeer and Deer Park East.

And the answer

I’ve you’re a regular reader, then you might’ve already guessed the answer, but here goes – Australia Post has long had postcodes boundaries in place, and each postcode contained one or more localities, but before 1998 Melbourne suburbs lacked official boundaries – a situation rectified by the passing of the Geographic Place Names Act.

Community consultation on what the boundaries of Victorian suburbs should be commenced before the Geographic Place Names Bill was introduced to parliament, so in the case of Sunshine West a more logical boundary was created – the hard edge of the Melbourne-Ballarat railway line used to redefine the northern border, the Western Ring Road the western and southern borders, and the old postcode border along the transmission line easement fading away given the suburbs either side were tightly integrated.

Which left only one issue to resolve – the residents of the southern part of Ardeer now had an address in Sunshine West. In the 25 years since, as old residents move away and new ones move in, the new suburb name has taken root, but for institutions and national companies, renaming schools and stores has fallen by the wayside.

Footnote: postcode oddities

Melway edition 27 from 2000 has a strange feature – the boundary of postcodes 3020 and 3022 still followed the previous suburb boundary, leaving the suburb of Sunshine West split between two postcodes. By Melway edition 28 that oddity was gone, leaving the current postcode boundaries.

It’s hard to tell whether this was an error on the part of the Melway publishers, or a side effect of suburb boundaries and postcodes being managed by the State Government and Australia Post respectively, and the changes to the former not being immediately reflected by the latter.

Footnote: other boundary changes

For the benefit of future me, here are the five boundary changes made in the City of Brimbank as of 2022.

Government Gazette No. G38 Thursday 24 September 1998 page 2463.

City of Brimbank. Assignment of the 24 aforementioned suburb names and their boundaries within the municipality. The plan showing the suburb names and their boundaries may be inspected at the Municipal Offices, or the Office of the Place Names Committee.

Albanvale, Albion, Ardeer, Brooklyn,Calder Park, Deer Park, Delahey, Derrimut, Hillside, Kealba, Keilor, Keilor Downs, Keilor East, Keilor Lodge, Keilor North, Keilor Park, Kings Park, St. Albans, Sunshine, Sunshine North, Sunshine West, Sydenham, Taylors Lakes and Tullamarine.

Government Gazette No. G5 Thursday 31 January 2002 page 162 and 163.

Part of Delahey to Sydenham

As shown hatched on the map, south-west corner of Hume Drive and Sydenham Road.

Part of Taylors Lakes to Keilor

Bounded on the south side along Taylors Creek, from the previously gazetted boundary to Sunshine Avenue; on the west side from Taylors Creek along Sunshine Avenue to the on-ramp of the Calder Freeway; on the north side along the freeway on-ramp to the previously gazetted boundary.

Government Gazette No. G22 Thursday 30 May 2002 page 1129.

Parts of St Albans and Deer Park to Cairnlea

As set out on version 4.3 of the plan showing the suburb names and boundaries within the municipality.

Government Gazette No. G22 Thursday 29 May 2003 page 1259.

Part of Albanvale to Deer Park

As shown on version 4.5 of the plan showing the suburb names and boundaries within the municipality.

Government Gazette G19 Thursday 10 May 2018 page 936.

Part of Keilor to Taylors Lakes

The south-eastern corner of Taylors Lakes is being amended to incorporate properties within Kangaroo Paw Court, the boundary will run along the north-eastern boundary of PS731295. All other boundaries remain unchanged

Melbourne suburbs – a time before boundaries

Finding out the boundaries of a given suburb in Melbourne these days is pretty easy – just head over to the Register of Geographic Names (aka VICNAMES) and it’s all there laid out in front of you – so it might be hard to believe they once existed on “vibes”. This is the story of how they came to be officially defined.

Looking east over Footscray towards the Melbourne CBD

How I ended up down this rabbit hole

This story started when I was researching why so many places located in Sunshine West are called “Ardeer”.

Unfortunately the Register of Geographic Names doesn’t include the history of suburb boundaries, so I turned to a different resource – the Locality names and boundary maps found on the website.

Of interest is the change register found at the bottom of each map, listing the issues of the Government Gazette in which boundary changes have been published in.

Unfortunately the earliest date on that map was September 1998. So how could I find an earlier set of suburb boundaries?

Enter the Geographic Place Names Act 1998

When I started researching how place names in Victoria are formalised, the “Geographic Place Names Act 1998” keeps on coming up. This act was assented to on 21 April 1998, with the new process for the registration of place names coming into operation from 31 December 1998.

Parliament House, Melbourne

So how was the introduction of the Geographic Place Names Act 1998 linked to the earliest suburb boundary maps that I had found?

Into the Hansard

The Hansard is the record of debates in the Parliament of Victoria, birthplace of laws, so I started digging around for references to the Geographic Place Names Bill.

Digging through the card catalogue

And came across this speech from Marie Tehan, then-Minister for Conservation and Land Management, who described how geographic place names were managed in 1998.

Geographic place names serve two major purposes. The primary purpose is the practical need to identify localities and features and to communicate direction.

The administration of place names in Victoria up to the Second World War was carried out under various land acts. A comprehensive postwar mapping program identified the need to coordinate and standardise the drawing and publishing of official maps and plans and the naming of places.

The Survey Co-ordination (Place Names) Amendment Act passed in 1965 established the Place Names Committee to perform this role.

John Ross provided some further background on a 1995 review into the Place Names Committee.

The bill has been influenced by a detailed inquiry undertaken by KPMG entitled ‘Review of Place Names Committee — Final Report, November 1, 1995’.

Among other things the inquiry found that:

  • persons who may make submissions or objections to the Victorian Place Names Committee are not defined;
  • time lines are set for only one part of the process of consultation;
  • ministerial involvement in the process is partial;
  • the cover of the Place Names Committee is illogical — school names but not hospital names are controlled; and,
  • some names go through the consultative process while others arrive via maps and are registered without consultation.

The inquiry also found that the processes of the Place Names Committee may duplicate processes of agencies that consult on name changes. One of the main conclusions of the inquiry was that the process may be very slow and duplicative.

Marie Tehan then described the new problem to be solved.

Three decades later significant changes in land information mapping and geographic place names have removed the need for a centralised assignment of names.

The state is mapped and the focus is now on meeting the needs of users of land information and organisations with a role in the naming of places.

Then went into the benefits reform would give.

Contemporary emergency service organisations using sophisticated communications technology now require real-time data which is accurate, up to date and more complete than ever before. Other community services and dispatch organisations are vitally interested in the clear definition of boundaries of places or localities for administration and planning purposes.

The state digital map base on which emergency service response is based is widely recognised as a stable and high quality database.

However there is a need for appropriate legislative authority to ensure that all current information relevant to the map base held by any public or private agency is provided as quickly as possible. In view of the unquestionable public benefit involved it is critical to ensure the prompt notification of changes, especially for such things as road and street names, new subdivisions and suburb boundaries.

But what came before?

The Survey Co-ordination Act 1958 defined a process in which place names were registered and new ones assigned, Australia Post had divided up the country into postcodes, and each postcode contained one or more localities – but the boundaries of these individual localities was left undefined by government.

It seems bizarre that there was a time that suburbs didn’t have boundaries, but in 1999 the Department of Infrastructure’s ‘Local Connections’ newsletter wrote.

For years, decades, and perhaps even centuries, the true name and boundary of Victoria’s suburbs has been a point of conjecture.

However, at last, through an extensive process of consultation and the community, an official set of suburb names and boundaries is available.

So how were these new boundaries defined?

Fixing it – the Geographic Place Names Bill

In February 1998 Marie Tehan introduced the proposed solution to all of the above problems – the Geographic Place Names Bill.

The bill defines ‘place’ as any place or building that can form part of administrative localities, landscape features and service infrastructure, and introduces three essential changes in the naming of places.

Firstly, the bill provides for guidelines which will allow local government authorities and other bodies to select and assign place names. These guidelines will be made by the Governor in Council and will provide a mechanism for a system of notification and central registration of new place names. This will ensure that all changes are notified to the state digital map base as quickly as possible.

Secondly, the bill provides for the establishment of a position of Registrar of Geographic Names with responsibility for policy development, collection and registration of approved names and management of the database of geographic place names.

Thirdly, the bill replaces the previous standing committee with an advisory panel with wide-ranging expertise to advise on the naming of places of special character. This is designed to ensure a more flexible process capable of providing the depth of technical knowledge and policy advice required on matters. Members of the panel will be drawn from the fields of mapping/geography; land information data management and service provision; local government; Aboriginal culture and language; orthography and linguistics; and, heritage and history.

The panel will be convened as required to comment and advise on the naming of places or features which cross local or regional boundaries, have special character or which have an affiliation for a wider group of Victorians.

These measures return control of place and feature naming to local communities and provide pro-active services to users and beneficiaries of the register of geographic places names. The reforms emphasise the role of local government authorities as critical providers of data. It is important that there is greater awareness of the significance of widely known current place names at the local level. This is the point at which additions to critical land information take place (including locality and feature names, street naming and addressing, and subdivision creation). The new procedures will significantly assist the regular updating of the register of geographic place names and the state digital map base.

Shadow minister for Environment, Conservation and Land Management Sherryl Garbutt then gave parliament a few examples of confusing place names.

Ms Garbutt — The process over the years since settlement has been haphazard and we now have confusion and duplication. I am told that there are 55 Stony Creeks in Victoria alone.

An honourable member interjected.

Ms Garbutt — Including one in Footscray. There is probably a Stony Creek for every honourable member. I do not know how many Railway Parades and Main Streets there would be scattered throughout the towns of Victoria.

Mrs Tehan — And High Streets.

Ms Garbutt — There would probably be a High Street in every town and suburb in the state. We are stuck with those sorts of situations, we have inherited that, but we have to map them and locate them extremely accurately these days.

And slipping in a dig at the way then-Premier Jeff Kennett went around changing names.

For example, when Premier changed the name of the National Tennis Centre in Flinders Park to Melbourne Park I suspect it was an attempt to put his stamp on the National Tennis Centre, which was built by the Cain government.

But with support from both sides of parliament, the Act assented to on 21 April 1998, with the new process for the registration of place names coming into operation from 31 December 1998.

So where to draw the line?

Community consultation on what the boundaries of Victorian suburbs should be commenced before the Geographic Place Names Bill was introduced to parliament, with The Age detailing the proposed changes in the City of Melbourne.

Committee redraws the city boundaries
Gabrielle Costa
The Age
19 May 1997

Creating a new suburb called Docklands and extending the suburb of Melbourne to include Queen Victoria Market, Flagstaff Gardens and part of Prahran are among suggestions Melbourne City Council will hear tonight.

The place names committee, part of the Office of the Surveyor-General, has asked the council to review suburb names and boundaries in the municipality.

The council’s manager of strategic research, Mr Austin Ley, said proposals would be thoroughly debated and the public consulted before names were changed.

In a submission to the council’s planning committee tonight, Mr Ley will argue that while calling Southbank part of Melbourne would be logical, the area has developed its own character and a name change would meet “extensive community opposition”.

Decisions about redrawing boundaries would take account of community interest and the implications for businesses, some of which would, for example, need to change letterheads and advertising to reflect any change.

Among the changes that will be raised tonight are:

* Extending the suburb of Melbourne west to include Queen Victoria Market and Flagstaff Gardens.

* Creating a new suburb called Docklands in the area now controlled by the Docklands Authority.

* Changing Port Melbourne to Fishermans Bend from the centre of Boundary Street in the east to the West Gate Bridge.

* A small parcel of land in South Melbourne west of Clarendon Street would become part of Southbank.

* The area around Parliament and to Lansdowne Street would become Melbourne rather than East Melbourne.

* The part of Prahran between Commercial, Punt and St Kilda roads would become part of Melbourne.

* Melbourne University could become part of Carlton rather than Parkville.

After public consultations are over, the place names committee will again exhibit the council’s suggestions, including any modifications, for further consultation. A decision is expected by August.

Following it up with an opinion piece containing some light hearted suggestions.

Melbourne or Kennettville?
Steve Perkin
The Age
27 June 1997

Jeff Kennett has asked all councils to review suburb names and boundaries as part of a drive to formally define suburbs for the emergency services and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Melbourne City Council has been accepting community suggestions for the past four weeks and submissions close today, although verbal submissions may be lodged on 4 July.

All councils have to lodge suggestions with the State Government by the end of July.

We’re planning to submit some. For example:

* The casino area could become Lloydworld or Xanadu.

* The Docklands could become Waverley and Waverley could revert to a swamp.

* Footscray could become Toxic Wastelands.

* Brighton could become Newman, because only Sam wants to live there since he shifted in.

* Parliament House could become Age City, just to really annoy Jeff.

* Melbourne could become New Orleans, because with Ragtime and Show Boat due here, we’re all going to feel like we live on the Mississippi.

And the result of the City of Melbourne’s consultation with the community.

Drover’s dog misses out as council rounds up names for new estate
Gabrielle Costa
The Age
7 Aug 1997

The City of Melbourne’s planning, development and environment committee has considered several planned changes to suburban boundaries.

A proposal to change Melbourne University’s campus from Parkville to Carlton was dropped after the university and the Parkville Association approached a council committee.

Wesley College, with the support of Cr Malcolm Ritchie, asked that it not be included in Melbourne because its Prahran campus was internationally recognised as such. Kraft Foods asked that its Port Melbourne address not be changed to Fishermans Bend.

About 400 submissions were received on plans to draw parts of East Melbourne into Melbourne. Certain areas too small to be deemed suburbs but historically significant will be known as localities.

The council hopes to submit its changes to the place names committee by the end of the month.

The council’s manager of strategic research, Mr Austin Ley, said the changes were meant to clarify suburb names for the benefit of Australia Post and emergency services, but the council hoped “communities of interest” would also be embraced within any change.

Some small suburbs were worried they would be swallowed up by their bigger neighbours – Burnley and Richmond being one example.

Historic address could disappear; On the fringe a suburb is born, while another faces inner-city oblivion
Karen Lyon
The Age
18 April 1998

Name changes could see Burnley become part of Richmond, and residents aren’t happy.

At the start of the century, Burnley was one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs. By its conclusion its name could be consigned to the history books.

Burnley people have a great affinity with their suburb and its history. They recall a time locals would promenade up and down the Twickenham Gardens.

Those who didn’t feel like a stroll, could ride the ferris wheel or travel the Twickenham Ferry, which connected Burnley to affluent Toorak.

Now the people of Burnley drive through their suburb in cars or jump on a train. The pace of life has changed but there are remnants of the past: like a walk through the scenic gardens, where residents enjoy the environment and the calm.

But the Burnley thing to do may not remain under the name “Burnley,” which the suburb has had for so long.

Sure, they say, the Royal Burnley Golf course and the horticultural college will remain, and kids will still kick a ball at the Kevin Bartlett Reserve. But the suburb of Burnley, part of the better-known city of Richmond, may disappear.

The State Government’s place names committee wants to redefine suburban borders to help Australia Post, emergency services and the Bureau of Statistics.

Which means that for the sake of convenience, Burnley could become part of Richmond.

The recommendations committee has moved through the statutory process slower than expected, giving Burnley a reprieve. It had been hoped that recommendations and changes for the state would be in place by early this year but any decision – to be made by the City of Yarra – could be three months away. When the final decisions are made, the new suburban boundaries will have to be put in place by the State Government.

Not all Burnley residents are happy about the change. They like the feeling of a smaller community and the sense of history. Like Richmond, Burnley is one of Melbourne’s oldest suburbs.

Mr Ron Pinnell is a local whose thoughts are often found in the letters pages of newspapers. He is passionate about Burnley.

He thinks that Burnley is about to be lost and that nobody seems to care. There was a survey, he concedes, but “they didn’t talk to us and we will just disappear”. He believes the beauty of Burnley is that it is “low-scaled Richmond”.

“There are parks and wider streets. Residential areas without the industrial intrusion. It’s a more liveable part of Richmond.”

Others trying to become part of their prestigious neighbours, like the Ashburton residents trying to join Glen Iris.

Residents seek a new address
Sian Watkins
The Age
26 November 1998

Hundreds of Ashburton residents are planning to change suburbs – without moving. They want the cachet of an address in neighboring Glen Iris, but without the price tag.

After the State Government’s place names committee recently approved an application by some residents to change four streets in Ashburton to Glen Iris, hundreds more residents have decided they want to live in Glen Iris, too.

Many residents from large areas to the north and south of the new addition to Glen Iris – which includes Highgate, Lexia, Ward and Dent Streets, off High Street – have asked Boroondara Council to survey the owners of about 1350 properties to see which suburb they would prefer to live in. Responses must be returned to the council by 11December.

The new Glen Iris residents sought the name change on the grounds that their area was once part of the Glen Iris Railway Junction Estate.

The council’s director of strategic management and support, Mr John Nevins, said yesterday that given that not all residents felt the need to change suburbs, a survey would be taken.

A clear majority would be required before the council approached the Place Names Committee seeking a name change.

Boroondara has dealt with these issues before. The Place Names Committee recently told the council it would agree to parts of Box Hill within Boroondara’s boundaries becoming Balwyn, and parts of Burwood becoming Glen Iris and Camberwell.

Some even sending a petition to Parliament, like the residents of an isolated pocket of Mulgrave who wanted to become part of the neighbouring suburb of Wheelers Hill.

Wheelers Hill boundary
Legislative Assembly Petitions
17 February 1998

To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the Legislative Assembly in Parliament assembled:

The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of the state of Victoria sheweth information to be considered in the review of suburb names and boundaries by the State Government Place Names Committee.

Your petitioners therefore pray that the boundary of Wheelers Hill be extended to take in the area bounded by Lum Road, Wellington Road, South Eastern Freeway, Springvale Road and Ferntree Gully Road.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

By Mr E. R. Smith (2007 signatures)

With all of these requests being fed into the process that defined the new suburb boundaries.

And it’s official

It’s not real until it’s included in the Melway – so I dug through my collection of old street directories to see what I could find.

How many street directories does one really need?

Landing on edition 26 and 27 – from 1999 and 2000 respectively.

As well as the big “ALL NEW SUBURB BOUNDARIES” on the front cover, Edition 27 from 2000 also included this note in the introduction section.

And a note to take a look at the map symbols on page 20 – where “Postcode Boundaries” sits alongside “Suburb Boundaries, Suburb Names, Postcode Numbers”.

And then I took a look at the same page in Edition 26.

No “Suburb Boundaries” at all – just “Locality Names with Postcode Numbers”.

Footnote: 25 years on – did it work?

Despite the work done in 1998 to define suburb boundaries, the continuing expansion of Melbourne has seen the need for new suburbs to be defined. One example is the City of Melton, who gazetted 11 new ones in 2017 as empty paddocks became new dormitory communities.

Brand new housing estates in the western Melbourne suburb of Truganina

But there are still some suburbs that are far too large, such as Truganina – stretching 15 kilometres across four distinct communities.

VicNames – The Register of Geographic Names

And the locality names wiped off the map following the formalisation of suburb boundaries never truly died – some like Moonee Vale still live on.

The Age covered the topic of Melbourne’s unbounded localities in a 2007 piece titled “secret suburbs“.

If you’re coming from Tally Ho you travel west – likewise from Bennettswood – and go via Willison, vaguely in the Macaulay or Batmans Hill direction. Pass through Rushall then Sumner and Anstey.

Westbreen is too far. Look just north of Moonee Vale and you’re there: Coonans Hill.

Directions from Burwood to Pascoe Vale South via Fitzroy have never sounded so confusing. But touring via Melbourne’s secret suburbs gives the route a quaint, village feel.

I’ve also got a few more “secret suburbs” to write about, but they’ll have to wait for another day.

Footnote: some gory legal details

The Victorian Registrar of Geographic Names maintaining the official Victorian Register of Geographic Names, supported by Geographic Names Victoria who administer the Geographic Place Names Act 1998. There is also a Geographic Place Names Advisory Panel, who provides expert advice to the Registrar on place naming policy, principles and naming issues.

The Victorian Registrar of Geographic Names is a member of the Permanent Committee on Place Names (PCPN) – a committee created from the various Australian and New Zealand committees on geographical names. The PCPN started in 1984 as the Committee for Geographical Names in Australia (CGNA) and it was renamed in 2005.