Millers Point...Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more

This afternoon residents will be addressing the City Council on a proposal to create Walsh Bay as a new suburb. Here’s my contribution: 

There is a long history of people attempting to expunge the name of Millers Point from the map of Sydney.  The precursor of SHFA tried to grab it for The Rocks. They tried to get the name of the old Post Office in Kent Street. Off the buses that terminate in Millers Point. Every time the residents have had to fight to keep their name. Names are important.  Part of Millers Point has recently been swallowed into the new Barangaroo. This attack on one of Sydney’s oldest place names needs to stop. To rename a small portion of the already diminished and diminutive suburbs of Millers Point and Dawes Point as Walsh Bay would be most disrespectful to the historical integrity of the place.

Millers Point is one of Sydney's oldest communities with a history that is based in its maritime economy. It has been named this for almost 200 years. Walsh Bay and the Walsh Bay wharves are integral to the maritime history of Millers Point, and without them, the meaning of the place called Millers Point is profoundly compromised.

The bay between the heritage listed precincts of Dawes Point and Millers Point is well known as Walsh Bay and the wharves are always called the Walsh Bay Wharves, but these are widely understood to be part of Millers Point. The State Heritage Register provides detailed and thoughtful listings of Millers Point and Dawes Point.  The register also lists the heritage precinct of Walsh Bay as a heritage item, but it makes it clear that this is integral to the place called Millers Point.

The practice of named wharf precincts within suburbs and city precincts is well established and easily understood - Jones Bay wharves, Pyrmont, White Bay wharves, Balmain, Walsh Bay wharves, Millers Point. This concept is clear and not difficult to grasp.  The fact that there are residences on the Walsh Bay wharves and former shore sheds is irrelevant and no different to the fact that there are residences in Windmill Street or Argyle Place, or on various wharves at Pyrmont or that there are residences at Circular Quay.

Over the years there have been ongoing attempts to erase the place called Millers Point.  Local residents on all these occasions have protested at the disrespect shown to the heritage meaning of their place - Millers Point. 

Claims that the proposed new naming would reduce confusion are greatly overstated. Mischievous, even. Dr Lisa Murray, the City Historian, provided the Council with an excellently reasoned paper the last time this silly request came before you.

Please don’t entertain this proposal. Please stop revisiting this issue and please don’t be conned into thinking that this proposal is anything more than an attempt to distance a small group of residents from the honourable historic roots of the area they live in.

Posted on July 22, 2013 .