Monday’s Column – The Streets of Gladstone 5.4.10

Who names our streets?  Who are the people responsible, and do you realise that they are laughing in their sleeves at us?  How do I know this?  Because after many years of driving by, walking past, and cruising up a certain street, I finally got the joke the other day:  Lamington Drive. 

Residents there must endure lots of good natured ribbing whenever they announce their address; “Lamington Drive, isn’t that linked to Revenue Avenue and Fundraising Way?”  Snigger, snigger. 

Gladstone’s street names include the usual blatant toadying to Pommy royalty and politicians, along with several themed suburbs such as Toolooa Estate’s fishy street names, where I’ve noticed that some distinctive local species were left out, notably, Stonefish Street, Crocodile Court, Blue Bottle Boulevard, and Tiger Shark Drive. 

Local Aboriginal words were also used to name some of our streets, and it has occurred to me that the original meanings may have been lost in translation.  Gladstone’s early settlers obviously wandered up to some indigenous residents, pointed to a nearby landmark, and used the tried and tested colonial method of communicating with all foreigners; shouting very loudly and s-l-o-w-l-y in English, “What do you call that?!”  The natives’ replies would be dutifully written down, eg: ‘Bareenong’ (Translation: Who are these noisy clowns, and why won’t they go away?)   

Goondoon Street is recorded as meaning ‘Waterbag’, but perhaps it was drastically shortened from the native, “You’re putting your main street up this hill?!  You’re gunna need a cut lunch and a ‘waterbag’ to go shopping!” 

But I reckon its’ real origins may in fact be Scottish, eg:  “Hey! Where are you going with my waterbag Jock?” 

“Och, ah’m ‘goon doon’ toon, wazzit tae ye pal?!”  (Translation: I am visiting the shops my friend).

Then there are names which can bring a smile to even the most grumpy motorists’ dial, and my street is one of them.  I’m not going to tell you what it’s really called, but one of its’ nicer nicknames is, “Flatulence Passage”. 

It could be worse.  Spare a thought for the hapless folk living in Woollybutt Street.  Imagine how much fun they must have telling incredulous strangers where they live?  Or having ‘Woollybutt’ printed on their licences?  No doubt the comedians who presented that streets’ name to council must have been stuffing hankies into their mouths to stop the guffaws from escaping.  Clearly, certain people shouldn’t be allowed to name streets… or breed.

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