Wyong – What’s in the Name?

Here’s a piece of history that might interest our members, it has been contributed by Max Farley.

Australian Christmas Bells stamp, issued in 1960.

Australian Christmas Bells stamp, issued in 1960.

The belief that the name ‘Wyong’ derives from an Aboriginal word is these days unquestioned. Several explanations have been offered as Wyong being the Aboriginal word for “running water”; a place where “Christmas Bells grow” and “where edible wild yams grew”. The latter is by far the most favoured. Indeed one author claims there was a small local group of Aborigines known as the Wyong clan but this is far from established.

Australian Edible Yams

Australian Edible Yams

 

The first published use of the word Wyong seems to have been in The Australian newspaper on 1 August 1827 where it was reported that:

“His Honour the Chief Justice contemplates making a tour to the northward as soon as the winter is over. Wyong, a district so called by the natives, about 12 miles from Brisbane Water is destined for 50 acre farms”.

Note that Wyong is referred to as a ‘district’ not as a settlement or town. This is because there was no town at this time. But the term ‘Wyong’ was in use before this. Indeed in 1825/1826 William Timothy Cape was granted 500 acres which he called Wyong Place. His father, William Cape Snr, had an adjoining 640 acres known as Wyong Hill (now known as Chapman’s Hill). Hence the word was recognised in the area so it was only natural the new town should adopt it. (The two William Capes were headmasters in Sydney at schools which were to be the forerunner to Sydney Grammar School).

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SOURCES: Max Farley; Wyong Museum & Historical Society Archives; Trove Digital Newspaper Archive; Australian National Botanic Gardens; University of Queensland Yam Project.

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