Did you know that Bendigo used to be called Sandhurst? And then changed its name back to Bendigo? While you could make a quick check of Wikipedia it does not tell you the story behind the change of name. Now that the Bendigo Advertiser is digitised on Trove, spanning 1855 to 1918, you can learn all kinds of fascinating details about the history of this famous Victorian city, including the controversial change of name that occurred over 100 years ago.

An article in the Bendigo Advertiser, advising of the poll to change the name of the city.

Bendigo Advertiser, 27 April 1891, page 2

Using QueryPic, a free, online tool developed by the clever folks at the Wragge Labs Emporium, we can see clearly the effects of the name change. QueryPic searches the digitised newspapers for keywords and then provides a visual display, like the graph below, of the search results over time. It then links those results to the online articles.

A graph illustrating the time of the name change from Bendigo to Sandhurst.From the above graph you can see when Sandhurst changed its name back to Bendigo. The change occurred when the blue (Sandhurst) line drops below the red (Bendigo) line in 1891. When you view QueryPic online each point on the graph is a link to articles with that keyword for that year.

Having originally begun as Bendigo, a name spawned from Bendigo Creek, it adopted the official name of Sandhurst, named after a military college in England in 1854 (1). It was changed back to Bendigo in 1891 following a plebiscite when all the residents voted, with 1,515 in favour and only 267 against.

Map from the 1850s showing town allotments of Sandhurst.

Township of Sandhurst, portion B, Bendigo Creek

The name Bendigo, which was named after a shepherd (ibid) was always in popular use from the 1850s and the Advertiser itself was a strong supporter of the change back to Bendigo. It argued that Bendigo was a ‘strong and manly name as befits a mining community,’ and that was more likely to attract further British investment in the goldfields.

This 1896 map shows the streets of Bendigo

New map of Bendigo & district, 1896?

The Library has many online resources, such as maps, pamphlets and pictures related to the history Bendigo, which include resources on Sandhurst.

1. Place names of Victoria by Les Blake.

Written by Chris Wade, Newspaper Librarian

 

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