Home' In The City : In the City - Winter 2012 Contents ............................
Monday May 21, 2012
If you walk through the streets of
Canberra you'll find stories hanging
from names stiffly posted on just about
In the city, the names of Marcus Clarke,
Moore, Barry and Bunda are familiar
thoroughfares. The streets take their names
from journalists, pioneers, judges and
astronomers. Many of them people who
moulded Australia's history and generously
contributed to science and culture.
To meander the streets of the city is to
journey through ancient languages, to know
men that gazed upon the cosmos with
Olympic intellects and extraordinary talents,
and to learn about those who forever etched
their names into the wall of Australian
history by association with great events.
Judge Redmond Barry, of which Barry
Drive is named after, tried many involved in
the Eureka Stockade, but he is perhaps most
famous for sentencing Ned Kelly to death.
Indeed, at the Kelly trial, the judge went
head-to-head with the famous bushranger.
"Your unfortunate and miserable
companions have met deaths which you
might envy,'' Judge Barry told Kelly toward
the end of a heated exchange.
"I cannot hold out any hope to you that
the sentence I am now about to pass will be
remitted. I desire not to give you any further
pain or to aggravate the distressing feelings,
which you must be enduring.
"Edward Kelly, I hereby sentence you to
death by hanging. May the Lord have mercy
on your soul."
To which Kelly replied: "Yes, I will meet
you there! They're not all dead yet. It will
take forty thousand police to get rid of them. I
will return from the grave to fight!"
The judge had several brushes with
historic figures more famous than himself.
One in which he had a more sanguine
influence on was outspoken left-wing
journalist and author Marcus Clarke.
Well known for his literary talents, Clarke's
book For the Term of His Natural Life is
considered one of the finest in Australian
literature. The mercurial mannered genius
penned numerous screeds and was no
stranger to sparking furors via his writing
and commentary. Much of which provided
titillation for the Melbourne cognoscenti.
One of the first notable victims of his witty
impertinence was the Duke of Edinburgh
on a state visit to the colonies. But Clarke
didn't stop there. He courted trouble with the
church, government and his own employers
while all the time remaining an engaging
figure in life and on the printed page.
Walk one block east from Marcus Clarke
Street and you'll find a street named after
Canberra pioneer Joshua John Moore. In
the 1820s, he took up the first land grant
in the area. The 2000-acre station, which
he called 'Canberry' after hearing the
local Aboriginals use the word 'Kanberra',
stretched from the foot of Black Mountain to
the foot of Mount Ainslie and covered what
is now occupied by the city.
Moore settled in as the first pastoralist
to the area and got to know the local
indigenous population. He described Onyong,
a respected tribal leader, as a tall burly man
who cut an impressive figure to all who met
him and whose leadership was recognised
among European settlers.
The words of the native Aboriginal
languages are preserved in small part within
the busiest areas of the capital. Bunda Street
takes its name from the Aboriginal word that
means kangaroo. While Garema, Alinga and
Akuna streets mean camp, sun and flowing
Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the
city from Moore Street is another pioneer.
Thomas Mort was an influential New South
Wales industrialist, promoter of the railways
and founder of one of Australia's first gold
mining companies -- the Great Nugget Vein
Gold Mining Company - in 1852, one year
after the first Australian gold rush began.
From precious minerals in the earth to
twinkling diamonds overhead Ellery and
Rimmer were streets that took their names
from astronomers. William Rimmer worked
at Mount Stromlo and photographing stars,
while Robert Ellery was a Fellow of the Royal
Astronomical Society and the Royal Society.
A gifted intellect he also happened to be a
In the bustle of the city few would pause to
wonder about these stories that exist behind
each street name. When a Twitter-verse
defines the depth and scope of attention
spans most people don't have the time or
inclination for such things. But behind each
street name is often a person who has shaped
Australian industry, culture and history, a
figure of perennial worth to our society.
Streets of History
Across Canberra, historical figures are remembered
and commemorated through suburb and street
names. MARK SAWA discovers the stories behind
some of the City's main thoroughfares.
Many city streets are named after influential Australians. Photo: Andrew Babington
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