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The Sydney Rail Network: Where do station names come from?

A fascination with words and history means that I often ask, “What’s in a name?” City names, food names, wine names, people names….and most recently, the names of some stops (and accordingly, suburbs) on the Sydney rail network. Here’s what I found, courtesy of Wikipedia:


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Named after people

Station – Kings Cross
Why? Originally was named Queens Cross but there was confusion with another area so it was renamed Kings Cross after King Edward VII.

Station – Martin Place 
Why? Named after James Martin, three time Premier of NSW and Chief Justice of Supreme Court of NSW.

Station – Wollstonecraft
Why? Named after Edward Wollstonecraft, the first settler to receive a land grant of 500 acres in the area, in 1821. 

Station – Redfern
Why? Named after William Redfern, who was granted 100 acres of land in the area in 1817.

Station – Pymble
Why? Named after Robert Pymble, an influential early settler whose 1823 land grant comprised approximately 600 acres, around half the land of the region.

Station – Dundas
Why? Named after the Dundas family of Scotland.

Station – Minto
Why? Named to honour the Earl of Minto, Gilbert Elliot-Murray-Kynynmound.

Station – Chatswood
Why? Named after Charlotte Hartnett, (wife of then Mayor of Willoughby, Richard Hartnett) and the original “wooded” nature of the area. The name comes from her nickname “Chattie” and was shortened from Chattie’s Wood to Chatswood. 

Station – Milsons Point
Why? Milsons Point was named after James Milson, a free settler who settled in the district in 1824.

Station – Mortdale
Why? Named after wool merchant Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816-1878) who was famous for pioneering the refrigeration of shipping meat and the construction of Mort’s Dock in Balmain.  

Stations – Thornleigh and Hornsby
Why? Thornleigh is named after Constable John Thorn, who, together with Constable Horne, captured bushrangers in 1830 and were later granted land as a reward. Horne’s land became Hornsby, and Thorn’s land, Thornleigh.

Station – Asquith
Why? Asquith was named in 1915 after the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Herbert Henry Asquith, Earl of Oxford and Asquith.

Station – Beecroft
Why? Sir Henry Copeland, Minister of Lands, named the area after the maiden name of his two wives, Hannah and Mary Beecroft, (sisters he married in succession). 

Named after plants/flowers

Station – Banksia
Why? Named for an Australian wildflower

Station – Gymea
Why? Named for the Gymea Lily, a tall perennial that is prevalent in the area.

Station – Telopea
Why? The name comes from ‘Telopea speciosissima’, the New South Wales waratah, a plant that was abundant in the area before it was colonised. It became the floral emblem of NSW.  

Named after indigenous Australian words

Station – Bondi Junction 
Why? ‘Bondi’ is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘water over breaking rocks’. 

Station – Wahroonga
Why? Wahroonga is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘our home’. 

Station – Kogarah
Why? Kogarah is from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘rushes’ or ‘place of reeds’.

Station – Yenora
Why? Yennora is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘walking’ or ‘to stroll’.

Station – Jannali
Why? Jannali is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘the Place Of The Moon’, originating from the people of the Northern Territory. The name is also used as a female name. 

Station – Parramatta
Why? The Darug people who lived in the area for a long time regarded the area as rich in food from the river and forests. They called the area Baramada or Burramatta (‘Parramatta’) which means ‘head of waters’ or ‘the place where the eels lie down’.

Station – Cronulla
Why? Cronulla is derived from ‘kurranulla’, meaning ‘place of the pink seashells’.

Station – Allawah
Why? Allawah is an Aboriginal name meaning ‘make your abode here’ or ‘remain here’.

Station – Yagoona
Why? Yagoona is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘now’ or ‘today’.

Station – Birrong
Why? Birrong is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘star’. 

Station – Berowra
Why? Berowra is an Aboriginal word that means ‘place of many winds’. 

Station – Mount Kuring-gai
Why? Ku-ring-Gai is an Aboriginal word that means ‘hunting ground of the men’. The area was once the home and hunting ground of the Ku-ring-gai Aborigines.

Named after other locations

Station – Sydenham
Why? Named after Sydenham, London 

Station – Rydalmere
Why? ‘Rydal’ comes from Rydal, Cumbria (England) and ‘mere’ means a lake. 

Station – Burwood
Why? Named after Captain Thomas Rowley received a land grant of 260 acres in 1799, and called his property Burwood Farm after Burwood Park, England. 

Other suburbs and stations named after places in London or England: Epping, Croydon, Arncliffe, Dulwich Hill, Stanmore, Penshurst.

Named after buildings

Station – Tempe
Why? Named after Tempe House, a mansion built in 1836 (which was named after the ‘Vale of Tempe’, a beautiful valley in ancient Greek legend).

Station – Erskineville
Why? Erskineville is named after ‘Erskine Villa’, the home of Wesleyan minister, Reverend George Erskine, built in 1830. 

Named after their geographical location

Station – Edgecliff
Why? It sits on the edge of a cliff.

Station – Punchbowl
Why? Punchbowl is named for a circular valley, called ‘the punch bowl’, which is actually located in the nearby suburb of Belfield. 

Named after English words

Station – Glebe
Why? The suburb was developed on a glebe (‘a piece of land serving as part of a clergyman’s benefice and providing income’), originally owned by the Anglican Church.  

Station – Hurstville
Why? The name ‘Hurstville’ is derived from the English ‘hurst’ meaning ‘a wooded eminence’, and ‘ville’, meaning ‘town’. 

Interesting stuff!


Taste of Sydney 2012: Photos of 5 dishes

Yesterday I went to Taste of Sydney with two girlfriends, Kat and Vera. After going to Taste of Auckland for two consecutive years in 2009 and 2010 I was curious to see what the Sydney restaurants had on offer. Here’s what I tried….


Restaurant: Four in Hand
Dish: Roast Suckling Pig, Coleslaw, Onion Rings and Hot Sauce
Verdict: The meat was succulent and the coleslaw fresh. The hot sauce added a light zing and the onion rings provided texture. Not a looker of a dish, but super tasty.


Restaurant: Flying Fish
Dish: Prawns served with Okra Sambal 
Verdict: The okra sambal sauce was excellent but I wasn’t blown away by the quality/freshness of the prawns. That being said, I don’t doubt that dining in the restaurant would be a different experience. I tried some of Kat’s Seared Petuna Ocean Trout and immediately had food envy! 


Restaurant: Otto Ristorante
Dish: Barbarossa Ravioli – Ravioli of Sliced Pickled Beetroot with Goats Curd, Pistachio & Horseradish
Verdict: The presentation of this dish was excellent, and the flavours crafted carefully. The goats curd melted in the mouth…I could have done with another helping!


Restaurant: Quarter Twenty One
Dish: Fried Hawkesbury School Prawns, Proscuitto and Rouille 
Verdict: This dish would be ideal at a BBQ with a ice-cold beer or cider. Crunchy, crispy prawns with slivers of proscuitto make for a salty but delicious bite.  


Restaurant: A Tavola
Dish: Cremino al Cioccolato – Amedei gianduia chocolate crema, salty caramel gelato, Italian meringue
Verdict: Easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The meringue was like marshmallow, the caramel gelato perfectly salty, and the chocolate crema gooey and rich. Worth every calorie!

All images appearing on this blog ( may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois
© 2012


7 dishes from Pyrmont restaurant, Graze

Last night a fellow food-loving friend and I tested out Graze, a restaurant that’s been open in Pyrmont for just over a year.

The aptly named venue specialises in grazing style dishes to share. Here’s what we grazed on:

1) Thyme gnocchi, zucchini, olives, woodside goats cheese, pickled cherry tomatoes 

The gnocchi were super tender and the cherry tomatoes exploded with sweetness. My favourite of the evening. 9/10


2) Cauliflower milkshake, Jamón & cheese toasty

A warm, savoury milkshake – sounds odd, right? But it was delicious. Graze’s signature dish. 9/10


3) Salad of zucchini flowers, baby zucchini, goats curd, candied olives

The best thing about this dish was the candied olives – what a discovery! Super yum. 8/10


4) Maple smoked ocean trout, cucumber & lemon crème fraiche

Just look at that picture. Perfectly cooked and the crème fraiche with cucumber was an excellent complement. 8/10


5) Twice cooked pork belly, aromatic sweet corn & capsicum salsa, basil olive oil

Can’t go wrong with pork belly. Corn isn’t my ideal companion for pork, but they made it work. 8.5/10


6) Espresso brulee, poached rhubarb

Topping was nicely done but I found the brulee a little thick. 6/10


7) Mango Eaton Mess, salted caramel jelly

The caramel jelly was excellent against the crunchy meringue and cream. Yum! 8/10




Opinion: Top 10 female vocalists of all time

This post has been saved in my drafts for a few months now, but the passing of the talented Etta James has prompted me to finally finish and post it.

There are ballads, there are songs, and there are voices. The voices that I’ve selected here are truly enchanting and full of not only talent, but zest. These are women who are (or were) completely devoted to their passion, and there’s more than just a pretty voice that echoes through when you hear them. 

Disclaimer: This list is limited to the genre of popular music and consists only of English-speaking chanteuses. It is also a personal selection. 

10. Celine Dion

She’s been criticized for not having enough involvement in the production component of her musicand she’s been parodied and impersonated countless times. But love her or hate her, she’s got talent.

Signature song: ‘My Heart Will Go On’
Voice: Nasal
Best decade: The 1990s saw Celine’s rise to fame and commercial success. She became popular in the English market with ‘Where Does My Heart Beat Now’ and continued with several albums including Falling Into You which had a number of hits. 

Listen to Celine’s rendition of ‘Ave Maria’: 

9. Tina Turner

Quite possibly an odd choice for this list and maybe more fitting for a ‘Top 10 Performers’ list, but either way, I just couldn’t leave Tina and her powerful voice off. 

Signature song: ‘The Best’
Voice: Throaty
Best decade: Tina doesn’t stop. Her career has spanned over 50 years but her greatest success came in the 1980s with hits ‘The Best’, ‘Private Dancer’, ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It’ and ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’.

Listen to Tina in her earlier days with ‘River Deep, Mountain High’, which was covered by Celine Dion in the 90s.

8. Ella Fitzgerald

With a wide-ranging, pitch-perfect and ageless voice, Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most popular jazz singers in the USA. Her 1956 album Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook is on the National Recording Registry

Signature song: ‘Summertime’
Voice: Rich
Best decade: Ella is best known for the tracks she released in the mid 50s to mid 60s, but she was very active again from around the mid 70s to mid 80s. 

Listen to Ella performing scat singing in 1969

7. Barbra Streisand

Like Celine, Barbra has also been the subject of much ridicule and impersonation, but you can’t deny her skill. Not only an excellent singer, she’s also won awards for her acting, as well. 

Signature song: ‘Woman in Love’
Voice: Finely-tuned
Best decade: The 70s were very prosperous for Barbra, but she had her greatest commercial musical success in the 1980s, in particular with the album Guilty.

Listen to ‘Woman in Love’, and at the same time have a giggle at the very 80s music video:

6. Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin is also known as “The Queen of Soul” and in 1987 she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Her voice is powerful, energetic and assertive.

Signature song: ‘Respect’
Voice: Strong
Best decade: 1960s 

Listen to ‘Respect’, 1967

5. Etta James

As mentioned at the start of this post, Etta James passed away today (20th of January in the USA). She had a beautiful, sultry voice that featured on the tracks of many romance albums. Her version of ‘At Last’ was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. 

Signature song: ‘At Last’
Voice: Soulful
Best decade: 1960s 

Listen to Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’

4. Eva Cassidy

Like many young talents, Eva Cassidy was taken from this world too soon. She was only 33 years old when cancer claimed her life. Her voice was really something else.

Signature song: ‘Songbird’
Voice: Effortless 
Best decade: Eva was most active in the 80s and early 90s, but much commercial success has come posthumously.  

Listen to Eva Cassidy’s ‘Songbird’:

3. Mariah Carey

Mariah’s vocal range is simply amazing. Both her and one of her influencers, Whitney Houston use melisma as part of their singing styles.  A melisma is “a group of notes sung to one syllable of text.” 

Signature song: ‘Hero’
Voice: Wide-ranging
Best decade: 1990s 

Listen to Mariah Carey’s ‘Without You’:

2. Whitney Houston

Another singer with an incredible vocal range, she has been a source of inspiration and influence for countless chanteuses. 

Signature song: ‘I Will Always Love You’ (which was written and originally sung by Dolly Parton)
Voice: Huge 
Best decade: Mid-80s to mid-90s

Listen to ‘I Will Always Love You’:

1. Karen Carpenter

Karen Carpenter was another talent who was taken too soon. At just 32 years of age complications from anorexia claimed her life. Her voice was crisp and clean, and she had an extraordinary ability to hold long, low notes. For me she epitomises the art and purity of singing. 

Signature song: ‘Close To You’
Voice: Pure
Best decade: 1970s

Listen to The Carpenters’ ‘Superstar’ in 1971:

There are many other beautiful voices that I would add to a longer list: Dusty Springfield, Dionne Warwick, Cass Elliot, Billie Holiday, Stevie Nicks and Roberta Flack to name a few.

Who would be in your top 10?



6 movies that would make for awesome remakes

Remakes can be ghastly and disappointing: Clash of the Titans, Psycho, The Invasion (of the Body Snatchers) and Godzilla to name but a few. 

On the other hand, some remakes are fantastic, for example The Fly (1986) and The Thing (1982), the latter of which has been remade since. Here are six movies that I believe would make for awesome remakes:


6) The Langoliers (1995)


Story: A bunch of passengers on a flight wake up to find that all other passengers, including the pilot, are gone. An off-duty captain flies them into an airport but it’s desolate and the sound of The Langoliers is getting louder by the minute.
Reason for remake: We have gems like The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Misery and The Green Mile. Stephen King deserves better with The Langoliers, too. 
Challenge: There is no challenge. The only thing that saved this film was David Morse’s performance as the captain. 
Recommendation: Give the script a complete overhaul. Get Christopher Nolan to oversee this. 


5) Dreamscape (1984) 


Story: Dennis Quaid’s character, Alex, has been using a psychic ability for personal gain. He is recruited by the government to save the US President, whose mind is trapped inside the dreamworld. Alex discovers that another psychic is killing people inside their dreams, causing them to die in real life. 
Reason for remake: The concept is brilliant and the movie is decent but it could do with fresh blood.
Challenge: Making it fresh without changing too much of the story. 
Recommendation: Get a completely new face for the lead character (or, don’t get any young popular actors to do it!)


4) Flight of the Navigator (1986)


Story: A 12-year-old boy called David falls down an embankment, is knocked unconscious and is abducted by an alien spacecraft. When he wakes up, what feels like a few moments later is in fact 8 years later and everything has changed, except David.
Reason for remake: They just don’t make stuff like this anymore. Classics for kids that ooze with imagination….rare to find these days. 
Challenge: Making the spaceship even more awesome. Big challenge!
Recommendation: Do not use a Pee-Wee Herman voice for when Max (the alien) speaks colloquially. 


3) Explorers (1985)


Story: A young Ethan Hawke plays Ben Crandall, who is obsessed with aliens. Ben and his friends Wolfgang (River Phoenix) and Darren make a spaceship and go on an amazing adventure to another galaxy.
Reason for remake: Same as for Flight of the Navigator. 
Challenge: Keeping it down-to-earth. 
Recommendation: Make the kids two boys and one girl instead of three boys, but all just as friends – no pre-teen romance, please.


2) The Lawnmower Man (1992) 


Story: Pierce Brosnan’s character turns a simple-minded gardener into a genius as part of a science/virtual reality experiment. The gardener becomes super smart and starts having his own ideas about how the research should continue.
Reason for remake: On paper, there is nothing wrong with this film. Everything is pretty solid, but now that it’s 20 years old it could do with a facelift.
Challenge: Casting the right actor for the lead role.
Recommendation: Get Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead. He played mentally-impaired in ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ exquisitely, and he can do serious just as well (The Departed). Quentin Tarantino to direct. 


1) Fantastic Voyage (1966)


Story: A diplomat is nearly assassinated and ends up with a blod clot in his brain. In order to save him, a submarine with a crew is shrunk to microscopic size and injected into his blood stream.
Reason for remake: This film has incredible special effects for 1966, but imagine what they could do now! It is a dream for lovers of biology.
Challenge: Finding the right person for Raquel Welch’s character. 
Recommendation: Make the crew male-to-female ratio more even. 

What movies would you love to see remade? 

Image links:
The Langoliers
Flight of the Navigator
Lawnmower Man
Fantastic Voyage

5 things to learn from the film Midnight in Paris

Have you seen Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris yet? If not, get seeing! It’s an awesome film – here are five things that it highlighted for me. 


(Image – Wikipedia)

1) It’s common to believe that you would’ve belonged better in another place and/or time

This is the whole premise of the film. The protagonist, played by Owen Wilson, idolises the idea of Paris in the 1920s. Another character dreams about the late 1800s. I’ve often imagined growing up in the 50s and 60s. I can’t help but think how nice it would’ve been to live in a (somewhat) safer time, when mail came once a day rather than in a constant electronic flow. It’s easy to look at the past and think that, but each year, month and day had challenges of their own. The moral of the story is ‘although the past can be alluring, we must accept and live with what we have before us in the present.’

2) Sprinkle your life with whatever fuels your passion, no matter what era it’s from

Following on from the previous point, although we should accept the present, there’s no reason not to embrace the beauty of past. I love 1950s-style dresses and music from the 1920s – 80s. Many people buy items from vintage shops because they remind them of their grandparents’ homes, or simply because they’re unique items. Reproductions of paintings by artists from all eras adorn the walls of millions of people around the world. Mouth-watering recipes are passed on from generation to generation. These things make us happy! Keep them going!


My vintage cedar dining table – plenty of character and it came in one piece!

3) Do what you love, not what you think will pay the bills

In the film, the protagonist has an easy gig as a screenwriter for Hollywood. He’s good at what he does but his dream is to write a novel. It’ll be challenging, but he knows the emotional reward will trump his cushy salary. I could write a short story about this topic, but in a nutshell the important thing is, ‘It’s never too late.’ 

4) Reading is truly a portal for feeding creativity

In 1920s Paris, Owen Wilson’s character encounters Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and T. S. Eliot – writers whose works have inspired so many people. When we were young we read stories about caterpillars and wild beings that come out of the wallpaper. We moved on to drama, mystery and romance followed by stories of war, philosophy and history. Although the way sentences and words are put together may change over the years, the messages from good books continue to entertain, touch and inspire us. 
If reading has fallen off the radar for you, chip away at some of the titles on this list


Ernest Hemingway & F. Scott Fitzgerald (Image from Daily Mail)

5) Travel to the places you love

Paris is my favourite city in the world. I’ve been three times and the last time was for an entire month. Of course, before I went the first time I didn’t know how much I’d love it, but there was a little voice inside me that urged me, “Go, Solange, go to Paris.” Maybe it was my love for the French language? For croissants and pain au chocolat?
For some people it’s the spirituality in India. For others, the creativity in New York. Find the place that does it for you – there’s nothing like strolling down a street in a city that awakens every single one of your senses.


All images appearing on this blog ( may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois© 2011

Being a young child #lifelessons


All images appearing on this blog ( may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois© 2011 

Life can only be understood backwards… #lifelessons


A guest philosopher for today’s Life Lesson.

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