my paternal great-grandfather. It is in the area by the "river" on which he spent much of his adult life. The "river" is actually a long arm of the sea. He mapped the area (which requires constant dredging) and acted as one of two ship's pilots.
Where he managed to learn marine cartography and how he obtained his pilot's licence are a mystery. We think he must have been outstandingly good at his job. The port authorities were still using his work as the basis for all the river maps up until computers took over the job over a century later. He earned the honour of having a street named after him.
But, how do streets get their names? This last weekend the Whirlwind asked if I knew the answer to that. She is in the middle of end-of-year exams and a maths problem had apparently been given some unusual street names.
Oddly I did know something about it. I remembered reading a newspaper article about two men who have been responsible for naming many of the streets in the new outer suburbs. The answer was not really at all exciting. They "just do it". They have taken the names of their children, of people who appear in the news, trees, flowers, cars, musicians, writers and anything else they happen to think might work. Occasionally the government steps in and makes a special effort with things like the Anzac Highway but most things "just get names".
The Whirlwind expressed disappointment.
"But names are very important!" she told me - and I have to agree. Names are important.
I think names were also more important to the early settlers than they are now. We have names like Largs, Glenelg, Malvern, Brighton and Hove for suburbs. There is an adjacent suburb where there are a series of streets named after English rivers. I suspect those places did not "just get names". They were a deliberate reminder of what people had left behind. Those responsible would never have called a road, as we now have, "the Southern Expressway", the Main South Road" or "the Lower North East Road".
"Did people just run out of ideas - or couldn't they be bothered?" the Whirlwind wanted to know.
I doubt they ran out of ideas. Those responsible probably thought they were describing something - or perhaps they were not very interested in doing anything creative. They stopped honouring people at the same time and, as the Whirlwind put it before she went back to her revision,
"They forgot the magic of names."