The Heap

The Settlement. Bearbrass. Bareport. Bareheap. Dutigalla. Glenelg. Narrm.

Recently I’ve been noticing that a lot of people on Twitter, who live in Melbourne, have been listing their location as “Naarm” or “Naarm / Melbourne”. Intrigued, I borrowed the Dictionary of Aboriginal Placenames of Victoria from the Flemington Library, and the words listed above are a few of the alternate names (indigenous and colonial) for Melbourne.

The dictionary spells the word as “Narrm” with a double “r” rather than “Naarm” with a double “a” but it is not unusual to find alternate spellings for Aboriginal words and names as Aboriginal languages in Victoria had sounds not used in English which made them difficult for English speakers to transcribe. In the future I’d love to see “Naarm” not just on Twitter but on our street signs, maps and government websites as well as, or in place of, “Melbourne”.

The Dictionary of Aboriginal Placenames of Victoria also includes entries for “Barebeerip”, “Bareberp” and “Bikjomangy” but these terms may have referred to the area of Batman’s Hill in specific rather than the area where the Melbourne city centre is. “Naloke” is recorded as referring to “parliament” and “Bourke and Spring Streets”. A Narloke Train Station on the city loop, anyone?

One other item on the list of alternate Melbourne names caught my eye – “Dutigalla”. The Flemington Library is just a few doors from the Doutta Galla Hotel in Racecourse Road, Newmarket. I think most residents of Kensington and Flemington assume that “Doutta Galla” is an Aboriginal term without ever knowing specifically what it means. I scouted the internet for a bit more information on the history of the term “Dutigalla” or “Doutta Galla” and found the following information on the website of the Doutta Galla Lion’s Club in Essendon:

The Parish of Doutta Galla … was reportedly named after the wife of Jika Jika, who was John Batman’s native servant. Jika Jika parish was on the east bank of the Moonee Ponds Creek and Doutta Galla on the west bank.  This is recorded in the March 1837 field book of surveyor Robert Hoddle.

Another source says that the name Doutta Galla (or Dutigalla) was the name of the tribe of aborigines on the original Batman treaty deed, signed on the banks of the Merri Creek, at Northcote. (“The Stop-Over That Stayed A History of Essendon” by Grant Aldous) 

History of Doutta Galla, Doutta Galla Lion’s Club

There was a link on the Lion’s Club website to a 1892 Map of the Parish of Doutta Galla which shows the Parish of Doutta Galla covering all of the land between the Moonee Ponds Creek and the Maribynong River, from Kensington and Flemington, though Essendon and out as far as Keilor and Broadmeadows.

And “Jika Jika”? I remember the name Jika Jika terrifying me when I was a child because it was the name given to the infamous maximum security unit at Pentridge Prison.

According to the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL) Dictionary of Aboriginal Placenames of Victoria is available to order, but the order form on their website is currently disabled.

Read my other posts and haiku, here.


Dictionary of Aboriginal Placenames of Victoria, Ian D. Clark & Tony Heydon, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, 2002.

The forgotten Aboriginal names for 10 of Melbourne’s suburbs, Jason Gibson, Helen Gardner and Stephen Morey, The Conversation, 10-Jul-2018.

History of Doutta Galla, Doutta Galla Lion’s Club,

Parish of Doutta Galla, Victoria Shire Map Company, 1892, National Library of Australia call number MAP RM 2741/90,