What’s in a name? Plenty if you ask the good folk of Kooweerup, who have been in a quandary for years over how to spell their home town, as Gazette editor GARRY HOWE discovered.
Kooweerup is famous for its spuds and sparry – and now as the potential home for Melbourne’s third major airport.
But there’s another more unusual claim to fame. It’s the town with three names.
The Gazette upset a few of the townsfolk when a free promotional ‘My Town Kooweerup’ bumper sticker lobbed at the newsagency earlier this year.
Some complained, via social media, that we had misspelt the town’s name; that it should be three words – Koo Wee Rup.
Others, it seems, like it hyphenated – Koo-Wee-Rup.
So we decided to investigate, and discovered much to our dismay that all three could well be correct.
Conjecture over how to spell the one-word town we at the Gazette like to refer to as Kooweerup has been around as long as the town itself.
Walk around the town and there are inconsistencies everywhere. The street signs vary and business names are all over the shop!
Even the schools can’t seem to agree.
The primary school opts for Koo Wee Rup and the secondary college uses one word, so kids have to adjust on their way up the scholastic ladder.
Leonie McGinley, assistant principal at the secondary college, said a conscious decision was made by principal Barry Whitehead in the’90s to revert from three words to one. All the signs, stationery and the like were amended accordingly.
This came despite some advice Ms McGinley received pretty close to home.
“My father, when he was alive, worked in the titles office,” she explained.
“I rang him one day and asked him what the legal name was – and he said three words.”
Heather Arnold is a keen historian. She heads up the Kooweerup Swamp Historical Society and works in the local history area for the Casey Cardinia Library Corporation.
One could argue there’s no-one more qualified to settle the argument, but it seems even she is at a loss.
Ms Arnold was born in the local hospital in 1959 and her birth certificate carries two different spellings, so she’s a living example of the anomaly.
“So, it seems the government had a bet both ways,” she lamented.
“I think there will be some mystery about this forever.”
Former high school principal Fred Hooper penned an official history in the 1970s titled Tale of the Blackfish, printed by the Gazette, and in that he opted for the one word version throughout.
Yet the Berwick Pakenham Historical Society’s journal In The Wake of the Pack Tracks – again printed by the Gazette, with former proprietor Herb Thomas heavily involved – chose the three word version.
David Mickle, who wrote a series of books under the title Mickle Memories of Koo-Wee-Rup, opted for the hyphens in the title, but all three versions were represented throughout the pages.
So, it seems Mr Mickle may have been the most accurate.
Three words, one word or with the hyphens – they’re all correct!
Footnote: For those with stickers who prefer the three-word name, we suggest cutting the sticker in three parts and displaying it that way. Those in the hyphen camp have to be a bit more imaginative and add a couple themselves.