Talked Tour To Hell at a Marrickville Heritage Society meeting this morning. I faced an attentive audience of well-informed Australian history enthusiasts, which kept me on my toes – but it was certainly a pleasure to present my topic to so many interested people.

Marrickville, for non-Sydneysiders, is a fairly old part of Sydney – the first land grants date to the 1790s, the same decade that the escape mythologies in Tour To Hell began to inspire convicts to desert the colony. It was well outside the city then, a mixture of farms and bush, part of a broad sweep of mostly unsettled land south and southwest of Sydney known as  Bulanaming.

I wonder how this musical word, now vanished from our maps, was pronounced. Bulla Naming? Bullarna Ming? Buller n’Ming? Feel free to enlighten me if you know. I’ve also had no luck finding out when or why it fell from use. Its loss is probably no more than a quirk of history; afterall, plenty of Aboriginal placenames adopted in the same era survive as Sydney suburb names (Parramatta, Toongabbie, Woolloomooloo, etc).

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