Hot tip on Canberra suburban street names

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THE CENTENARY’S History and Heritage Advisor, David Headon, is posing a few questions to the public. 

Australia’s first international opera star
Australia’s first international opera star
“Do you know,” he asks, “which Canberra suburb is named after Australia’s first international opera star?  The street that commemorates the inventor of the Hills hoist?  Or that the first Australian Prime Minister to die in office has a suburb named after him?”

I think I know the answer to the first, but after that, I get a bit vague.

“These are the kinds of stories,” Headon says,  “the Centenary of Canberra hopes to receive as part of a new competition for ‘Portrait of a Nation’, a project that invites locals to research the origins of Canberra’s street and suburb names.”

He says entrants will be in the running to win a prize worth more than $1200 and gain a greater appreciation for the nation’s capital in the process.

“Canberra’s a place that becomes more meaningful as you learn more about it, with names first given to the city’s streets in the same decade as the Great War a century ago,” Headon says, adding,  “These stories are all interesting pieces of our history that often go unnoticed; whether it’s that the suburb of Melba is named after Australia’s first international star, Dame Nellie Melba; that Lance Hill Avenue is named after the inventor of the Hills hoist, Lance Hill; or that the suburb of Lyons was named after the first Australian Prime Minister to die in office, Joseph Lyons.”

To enter the competition, residents should look up the person their street or suburb is named after and upload their findings to

Now I don’t live in Chapman, but for what it’s worth, here’s my personal hot tip to local residents there – your suburb is packed with theatrical names, like Thring (Frank Thring the actor), Winstanley (Eliza Winstanley the first Australian stage star), Rene (Roy Rene “Mo”  the comedian), Tait (the Tait Bros entrepreneurs), and many more. I’m a bit of a theatre buff and I love driving around there to collect the names. The Australian Dictionary of Biography is a good guide.

Headon says the  submission can be  in a variety of forms, from writing and images to video and voice recordings relevant to that person.

Submissions received by  November 28 will automatically be in the running to win the prize, which includes:$500 off ActewAGL electricity bill; $500 voucher to local shops; $200 Capital Chemist voucher; and a Centenary of Canberra memorabilia gift pack, including a copy of Heide Smith’s book “A Portrait of Canberra and of Canberrans 1979-2012”, published to celebrate the Centenary.

Information and submissions to by November 28.


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