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Beulah Park is an affluent suburb of Adelaide, named after a village in Wales. The name Beulah is from a Hebrew word translated as “married (woman)”. In the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah prophesies that the land of Israel shall be known as Beulah, because it shall be as if “married” to God, to indicate an especially close and loving relationship. Because of this, Beulah was used by John Bunyan and William Blake to mean a mystical place from which Heaven can be seen; it’s also used this way in the hymn Beulah Land. Beulah has been used as an English name since at least the 17th century, and was taken up by the Puritans. It has been much more popular in the United States, and was Top 100 in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; however it hasn’t charted there since the 1950s. Poor Beulah has come to exemplify the “ugly old lady” name, even though it doesn’t sound much different to Bella or Ruby (put the OO sound from Ruby into Bella, and you’ve got Beulah!). Can vintage Beulah ever be pretty again?
Brooklyn Park is in Adelaide’s western suburbs, and was probably named after the borough of New York City. Brooklyn was settled by the Dutch, and originally called Breukelen, after a town in the Netherlands, whose name means “broken land”. Apparently this is because both the Breukelens were built on marshes, where the land is broken up with little streams, and I have also seen Brooklyn translated as “marshland”. Brooklyn has been used as a personal name since the 19th century, and originated in the United States. It was at first more common as a male name, but today Brooklyn only charts as a girls name in the US. In the UK it is more common for boys, thanks to David Beckham’s son Brooklyn – the name has charted for boys in the UK since 1999, when Brooklyn Beckham was born. In Australia, the name Brooklyn is fairly evenly used for both genders, although not very common for either. An attractive underused modern name suitable for either sex, although international trends suggest it is turning pink again.
Cherry Gardens is a semi-rural suburb of Adelaide named for the native cherry trees which once grew there in profusion. The name Cherry can be from the cherry tree, or its delicious red fruit, although I think many people would be reminded of cherry blossom, which is enchantingly pink and lovely. In Australia, cherries are especially connected with the town of Young in New South Wales, which promotes itself as the Cherry Capital of of Australia, and holds a Cherry Festival every year. It also recalls the popular Cherry Ripe, which is Australia’s oldest chocolate bar. Cherry can be given as a nickname for names such as Charity, and can also be from the surname Cherry, which might refer to someone who grew or sold cherries: this probably explains boys given the name Cherry. Cherry has been used as a name since the 17th century (perhaps influenced by the popular poem and song Cherry Ripe), but it only became common in the 19th. It has a 1950s vibe, and seems “ripe” for teasing, but also bright and irrepressibly cheery. It’s a name that makes you smile when you say it aloud.
Eden Hills is a suburb of Adelaide, and well suits its name, as it in the city’s foot hills, and contains bushland, parks, and a botanic garden. The first landowner in the area was William Cook, who settled here in 1839. He was the master of a vessel called the Eden, and it is believed that’s where the suburb got its name. The name Eden is usually given in reference to the Garden of Eden in the Bible. The name has been translated as if derived from the Akkadian edinnu, meaning “steppe, plain”. It’s now thought to be related to an Aramaic root meaning “fruitful, well-watered” – this fits in better with the biblical description, as the Garden of Eden was said to be irrigated by rivers and filled with fruit trees (of course fruit was to prove a real problem). In Hebrew, the word is understood as meaning “pleasure”, and Eden is recorded in the Old Testament as a personal name. It has been used as an English name since the Middle Ages as a variant or pet form of the Anglo-Saxon Ed- names, such as Eadhun, meaning “rich bear cub” (the source of the aristocratic Eden surname). The biblical meaning came into use around the 16th century, and the name has always been given to both sexes, but is more common as a feminine one. Eden has charted since the 1980s at #757 (the decade of popular TV drama series, Return to Eden – in this case, Eden was the name of an estate in the Northern Territory). It joined the Top 100 in 2011 and is now #68. Although it has only ever charted as a girl’s name, it is quietly but steadily given to boys too, and seems rather distinguished as a male name. A clean attractive name suitable for both sexes.
Fern Tree is an outer suburb of Hobart, named so because of the Tasmanian Tree Ferns which grow abundantly in the area. It’s a popular place for bushwalking. Ferns are ancient plants which have remained unchanged for more than a hundred million years, and are extremely hardy and easy to grow. Because ferns don’t have flowers or seeds, people didn’t know how they reproduced for a long time (now we know – it’s from spores). This enigma gave it a magical air, and it has long been associated with fairies and spells. Ferns have a special connection with New Zealand, used as an emblem by sporting teams, especially the netball team, the Silver Ferns. Fern has been used as a person’s name since at least the 17th century, but it became quite popular in the 19th century. Not only were plant names very fashionable then, but the Victorians went fern-crazy, and there was a real fad for collecting the plants. This is a vintage nature name which doesn’t seem old-fashioned in the least, but rather off-beat and artistic.
Lenah Valley is in the foothills of Mount Wellington in Hobart, and was settled in the 19th century. There are several bushland reserves here, and it is the home of the Lady Franklin Museum, a classical temple built by pioneer Jane Franklin, wife of the explorer John Franklin; it now houses the Art Society of Tasmania. Lenah is the local Aboriginal word for “kangaroo”. It looks like the name Lena, but is said LEN-uh, not LEEN-uh. This would work well cross-culturally, while having a very Australian meaning.
Lutana in Hobart’s north was originally built by the Electrolytic Zinc company as housing for its workers. A competition was held to name it in the 1920s, and the name Lutana was selected; it’s the local Aboriginal word for “moon”. A famous namesake is Lutana Spotswood, an Indigenous language worker who gave a eulogy in the Palawa language at the funeral of Tasmanian premier Jim Bacon. Lutana is pronounced loo-TAN-uh. This is quite similar to the familiar Luna in sound and meaning, but is purely Australian and avoids any concern over loony or lunatic. Not only can you use Lulu as a nickname, but I have seen quite a few baby girls lately named Tanna, so the sound must appeal to Australian parents.
Marion is in Adelaide’s south-west, and was named after a young daughter of James Fisher, the Resident Commissioner in the 1830s, who was responsible for disposing of public land. Miss Fisher’s name was actually Marianne, not Marion, and she lived to be one hundred years old. Marion is a medieval French pet form of the name Marie. During the Middle Ages, one of the most popular type of French folk song revolved around a shepherdess named Marion, and her lover, a knight named Robin. This all sounds very familiar, but strangely enough there doesn’t seem to be any proven link between these songs and the English tales of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. There is also a surname Marion, taken directly from the woman’s name, and this has been quite often been given as a boy’s name – most famously to the actor John Wayne, born Marion Morrison. Perhaps people thought it was the masculine form of Mary. In the US, Marion has charted as a unisex name fairly evenly given to both sexes, but it has only charted as a female name in Australia. Marion was #89 in the 1900s, and peaked in the 1930s at #47. It left the Top 100 in the 1960s, and hasn’t charted since the 1980s. Although this name is dated, there is something rather glamorous about it, thanks to French actress and singer Marion Cotillard. If you’re worried about Margot becoming too popular, why not consider this other French charmer?
Penna is in the outer suburbs of Hobart, and is sometimes listed as a village or a commuter town. It’s name is most likely from the Cornish surname Penna, meaning “headland”, as it is faces onto a peninsula. Penna as a personal name can be from the Latin word penna, meaning “feather, wing”. This is where our word pen comes from, as we once wrote with feathered quills, but even in English, the word penna means a contour feather on a bird. There’s also the Italian surname Penna, which comes from the Latin pinnus, meaning “pointed”, and refers to someone who lived on a hill. In Finland, Penna can be given to boys as a variant of the name Ben. Penna has been used as a personal name since the 18th century, and when you look through the records, it’s clear that it is a multicultural choice, used all over the world, including Hungary, Italy, Greece, Norway, Persia and Brazil, as well as English-speaking countries. Recently it was chosen by actor Ian Ziering for his daughter, giving this rare name some much needed publicity. The rise of Penelope makes Penna seem more usable.
Rosetta is a small suburb of Hobart thought to be named after Rosetta Cottage. This was built in the early 19th century by John Beresford, who came to Australia as a convict on the First Fleet, and took up land in Tasmania to become a prosperous farmer. Rosetta Cottage later became a private girls’ school, and then the Undine Hotel – it is now a B&B. It seems likely the cottage was named after the Rosetta Stone, a 2nd century BC stone slab discovered in Egypt in 1799 which had the text in Egyptian hieroglyphics, Egyptian script, and ancient Greek. This allowed Egyptian hieroglyphics to be translated for the first time, and even now, Rosetta Stone is used to mean a crucial key in decoding information. The Rosetta Stone is so named because it was found in the Egyptian town of Rosetta. Rosetta, meaning “little rose”, is the western version of the town’s Arabic name Rashid, meaning “guide” – both are corruptions of the Coptic name Trashit, which I think just describes it as a mouth of the Nile. This is a pretty vintage name, very much on trend, which has a wealth of meaning and history behind it. Rosie or Etta could be used as the nickname.
People’s favourite names were Fern, Eden and Lenah, and their least favourite were Lutana, Brooklyn and Beulah.
(Photo shows Wittunga Botanic Garden in Eden Hills, Adelaide)