The Names of Perth

The names of rivers, coastal features, districts and their streets tell a lot about the history of a place. The grid pattern layout of the main roads of suburban Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth indicate that not only did some thought and planning go into both their design and growth, they are built on relatively flat ground. By contrast, Brisbane and Sydney are the opposite; their street layouts resemble a bowl of spaghetti dropped onto the floor from a great height.

The names of Perth weave a splash of colour into the tapestry of the city's growth and development and add fragments of detail that would otherwise have been lost. In re-naming the first streets (now the inner city area) in 1929, Governor James Stirling and Surveyor-General, John Septimus Roe, let residents and visitors to the tiny settlement know in no uncertain way that this was very much a part of the British Empire. He named the central street after St. George, the Patron Saint of England; others streets around it include a few members of the British Royal Family as well as plenty of British parliamentarians of the day. Even some of the early colonials got a mention.

Many geographical features in the Perth region had already been named before the Swan River Colony was established. Dutch navigator Willem de Vlamingh happened upon the coast of Western Australia in January 1697. He did a little exploration, naming Rottnest Island and the Swan River. Whilst checking out the suitability of the Swan River for a future settlement in 1827, James Stirling, had a good look at the place, and named quite a lot of geographical features, mainly after his expedition team members. Stirling returned two years later and established the Swan River Colony.

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