The QM2, that is, the Queen Mary 2, arrived in Sydney early this morning and I was a bit excited at the prospect of catching the ferry from Burragi (Bradley’s Head) to Warrang (Sydney Cove/Circular Quay) as I’d assumed they’d park the thing at Dalawulada (The International Terminal, Circular Quay). However, due to its unfathomable size (too high to fit under the bridge, too long to fit at the international terminal), they had to park it instead at Bayinguwa (Garden Island).

That was all segue, designed to lead into a talk about the name ‘Garden Island’. Now, I was always confused because, well, the name ‘Garden Island’ has at least two things wrong with it. For a start, it’s a shipyard and there’s hardly a skerrick of garden on it and secondly, it’s not even an island, it’s just a peninsula. Look:

Garden Island

In fact it reminds me of a number of Simpsons episodes that played on this island/peninsula alternation. The best was when Lisa was imagining being punished for failing gym class and being sentenced to a lifetime of horror on “Monster Island”. The judge promptly reassures her with Don’t worry. It’s just a name. Cut to shot of Lisa and a group of similarly punished people fleeing a group of stampeding monsters. She complains to one of the others He said it was just a name! To which one of them replies What he meant is that Monster Island is actually a peninsula. (giggling quietly to myself) For those of you who care, the prospect of failing gym resulted in her joining an Ice-Hockey team.

Enough of that. Of course, Bayinguwa was once a garden-laden Island, as this old picture is supposed to show, except I, for one, can’t see it too well. Apparently the construction of a dry dock ended up connecting the island with the mainland (according to some dude, via Wikipedia).

Garden Island Old

I suppose I don’t have a point, really. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that English names for geographical features can become dated. Then again, perhaps after a century or two of the government’s incorrigible attitude towards climate change, it may just become an island again.

[By the way: Every time I see the word Bayinguwa I wince a little, because I have the intuition it should be Bayingowa. The records show two alternate spellings from the British in the early days, one of which is Bayinguwa. The other one, Ba-ing-hoe, I have largely ignored. The two are consistent with each other, except for the quality of the penultimate vowel. Was it /u/ or /o/? Without a third reference, and even with one, you can't really say. So, I've left it as I read it, Bayinguwa, though, not without reservations.]

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