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Cheviot Beach is on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, and will forever be remembered in Australian history as the place where our seventeenth Prime Minister, Harold Holt, disappeared without trace on December 17 1967, presumed drowned. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only country to have had a national leader disappear in modern times. The beach is named after the SS Cheviot, which was wrecked here in 1887, 35 people losing their lives. Not surprisingly, the public is not permitted access to Cheviot Beach, because the seas are far too dangerous – Harold Holt was only allowed to swim here because he was the Prime Minister, and as we see, it wasn’t a good idea. The SS Cheviot was named after the Cheviot Hills on the border between England and Scotland. They feature in The Ballad of Chevy Chase, which tells of a medieval battle between the English and the Scottish here. The name Cheviot is almost certainly Celtic, but the meaning is not known. This seems like an interesting way to get the nickname Chevy – which I’ve seen several times on baby boys.
Elliott Heads is a small town in Queensland, set amongst farmland and sugarcane fields. The beach at Elliott Heads is family friendly, popular for swimming, fishing, sailboarding and jet skiing. The town is at the mouth of the Elliott River, with the river supposedly named after Gilbert Eliott, who was the first Speaker of the Queensland Parliament. If so, I’m not sure why it is spelled differently. Eliott came from a long line of Scottish barons and baronets, and being calm, courteous and dignified, avoided nearly all political controversy, and was extremely popular. The surname Elliott can be derived from a number of different personal names. One is Ellis, a medieval English form of the name Elijah. It can be from the Old English Athelgeat, a male name meaning “noble Geat” (the Geats were a tribe who inhabited what is now Sweden). Another source is Old English Athelgyth, a female name meaning “noble battle”. It can be from Old English Aelfwald, meaning “elf ruler”. Finally, in Scotland it can be from the Gaelic surname Elloch, meaning “dweller by the mound”. Elliott has never charted in Australia, with parents preferring the spelling Elliot for their sons, currently #181.
Henley Beach is a pleasant suburb of Adelaide, and its white sandy beach has gentle water for swimming and a jetty for fishing. The public square next to the beach is lined with shops, hotels and restaurants. A well-established older suburb, it was first advertised in 1860 as being “free of noxious smells”, but as you can see, it’s got a lot more going for it than that. Henley was named after Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, a famous centre for rowing, with the Henley Royal Regatta held each summer. Sir Ninian Stephen, former Governor-General of Australia, was born in Henley, and came to Australia during his childhood. The name Henley means “high wood” in Old English, because the town is in the Chiltern Hills. Henley was in use as a boy’s name in the 19th century, and it is found in some rather aristocratic-sounding name combinations in Australian records (and the less inspired Henry Henley). It was a classy name choice 150 years ago – could it be again?
Kingston is a commuter town just south of Hobart in Tasmania; Kingston Beach is one of its suburbs. The area was settled in the 19th century by a family who were evacuated from Norfolk Island. Norfolk Island was at first a convict settlement like Sydney, but it ran into such difficulties that settlers were eventually forced to relocate to Tasmania. Being sent from a balmy subtropical island to freezing Tasmania must have come as a shock, but the pioneers obviously flourished. After World War II, many Dutch immigrants moved to Kingston, and it is a sister city to Grootegast in The Netherlands. Kingston Beach is the first swimming beach south of Hobart. Kingston was nostalgically named after the capital of Norfolk Island, which gained its appellation from its founder, Lieutenant Philip King. As we know, it’s not possible to name your child King in Australia, but you can call a baby Kingston, and it’s reasonably well-used in the records – one girl from Tasmania was even named Revie Josephine Kingston Beach. Quite common as a middle name for girls, only boys seem to have received it as a first name, including Kingston Rainbow, who managed to get two beachy names from my lists.
Lennox Head is a village in the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales near the town of Ballina. Lennox Head Beach is more popularly known as Seven Mile Beach, although technically it’s only 5.3 miles long. The head, often called Lennox Point, provides panoramic views and a world-class point break, which makes this a famous surfing destination. Young surfers can look forward to the Rusty Gromfest in Lennox Head, known as the original and best youth surfing event in the country, and boasting alumni such as Stephanie Gilmore and Joel Parkinson. People also use Lennox Point for hang-gliding, and dolphin and whale watching. Lennox Head was named after Charles Gordon-Lennox, Duke of Lennox and Richmond, a soldier and politician. The dukedom is named for the district of Lennox in Scotland, near Glasgow; its name comes from the Old Gaelic for “field of elm trees”. Lennox is a very cool name for boys at the moment, which not only has the fashionable X, but also gives the trendy nickname Lenny; it was chosen as a baby name by racing driver Jason Bright. Handsome and aristocratic, it’s a great choice, and one I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of in the future.
Lorne is a seaside town on the stunning Great Ocean Road in Victoria. Settled in the mid 19th century, it was visited by Rudyard Kipling in 1891, who mentions it in his poem The Flowers. Kipling was obviously ahead of the trends, because the town only opened up to tourists in the 1930s. Lorne is one of Victoria’s most popular tourist destinations, and its beach one of the main attractions, offering good swimming, surfing and fishing. In January, the town holds the Pier to Pub swim, which, with a 1.2 km course, attracts thousands of entrants, and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest organised ocean swim in the world (Kieren Perkins won in 1992). Lorne is named in honour of the Marquess of Lorne, to commemorate his marriage to Princess Louise, daughter of Queen Victoria. The Marquess became a very popular Governor-General of Canada; the Candian press feared he and his princess bride would be horribly snooty, but the young couple turned out to be sociable, relaxed, and flatteringly enchanted by Canada’s natural beauty. The district of Lorne in Scotland may have gained its name from Loarn mac Eirc, a Dark Ages ruler of a kingdom in Argyllshire. The Celtic name Loarn is said to mean “fox”, a clan totem animal. Lorne is a name comparatively well-used in Canada, which has close ties to the Marquess, and probably best known for many years as the screen name of Canadian actor, Lorne Greene. Others may remember it as Andy Hallett’s character’s name on the TV series, Angel – the joke is that his demonic face is green.
Lucky Bay is in Cape Le Grand National Park, not far from Esperance on the Southern Ocean coast of Western Australia. Australia has more than its fair share of beautiful beaches, but Lucky Bay must be one of the most magnificent – over five kilometres long, it is a perfect crescent of white sand lapped by clear, sparkling turquoise water. Surrounded by bushland inhabited by pygmy possums and bandicoots, you may have to share the beach with kangaroos, who enjoy lazing on the sands. Lucky Bay received its name from the navigator Matthew Flinders, who discovered it in 1802. He had been sailing in the hazardous Archipelago of the Recherche, the place where Australia’s only pirate operated from, in the 1830s. Although Flinders didn’t have to negotiate wth pirates, he had trouble enough to deal with. Sailing through the labyrinth of islets and rocks, and with night falling, Flinders took the risky step of sailing straight to the coast, in the hope that he could find safe anchorage on a beach. All was well, and he dubbed his welcome haven Lucky Bay. Most explorers in Australia haven’t been as fortunate, and therefore it is littered with forbidding place names such as Mount Disappointment, Misery Creek, Mount Hopeless, Miserable Island, Starvation Lake, Point Torment, Dismal Swamp, and Mount Destruction. Lucky Bay is unusually upbeat for an Australian place name chosen by an explorer. Lucky is a rare unisex name, and a very happy one – well suited to a baby whose birth circumstances seem particularly auspicious.
Preston Beach is a hamlet in the south of Western Australia, between Mandurah and Bunbury. It was developed in the late 1950s as a private estate, and its beach is known locally for being a good fishing spot. It was named after nearby Lake Preston, in Yalgorup National Park; the lake is named after Lieutenant William Preston, who discovered it in 1829. The surname Preston is from a very common place name in England, and means “priest town”. It may have either denoted a village which had its own priest, or one which belonged to the Church. Preston is well-known in Ireland as an aristocratic surname, and it is fairly common in Australian records from the 19th and early 20th centuries. It strikes me as a rather sleek, understated surname name for boys, in a similar mould to Parker and Spencer.
Tallow Beach is near Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. Once a hard-working and rather environment-destroying centre for logging, sand-mining, dairying, slaughtering, fishing and whaling, in the 1960s Byron began attracting surfers to its beaches. This began its new life as a tourist destination, and in the early 1970s the counter-culture Aquarius Festival was held in nearby Nimbin. From then on, it was known as a hippy, alternative town. Today in Byron, barely a weekend goes by when they are not holding a yoga or meditation retreat, pagan gathering, music festival, film festival, writers festival, surf festival, triathlon, underwater photo festival or art fair. Tallow Beach, in Bouddi National Park is a long stretch of wild, windswept shoreline with huge waves. It got its name when the Volunteer was wrecked there in 1864, and 120 casks of tallow were washed ashore. Tallow is rendered meat fat, once used to make candles, and still used today for biodiesel, soap and skincare products. I have occasionally seen Tallow used as a unisex name – it has the fashionable -oh sound ending with homespun appeal, and is similar to names such as Talon, Tallis, Talia and Tully. Because Tallow was used for candles, it seems like another name with an association of “light”.
Trigg is a northern suburb of Perth in Western Australia, and Trigg Beach one of the city’s most popular beaches for surfing and bodyboarding. The suburb is named after Henry Trigg, who was the Superintendent of Public Works in the 1830-1850s. A wealthy builder, Henry was able to emigrate to Australia and take up a large land grant. His son, also named Henry, was his partner in the building trade, and an architect who designed many of the buildings in Perth city. The surname Trigg is from the Old Norse surname Triggr, meaning “trustworthy, faithful, true”, and the personal name Trig has been used in England since medieval times. The American politician Sarah Palin has a son named Trig, which brought this very old name to new public attention. It has an attractive meaning, and is part of Western Australian history. I think it might appeal to people who like short, unusual names for boys, such as Kip, Dex or Zed.
(Picture shows kangaroo relaxing on the beach at Lucky Bay)