North Fitzroy or Fitzroy North? That is the question
Updated: Nov 29, 2021
By Charlie Gill
Let me begin by responding to Mark’s suggestion in his letter-to-the-editor that The Rotunda’s use of ‘North Fitzroy’ is “a sociological experiment intent on causing a ruckus”: I wish. Using a newspaper to set people against each other and slowly psychologically torment the populace sounds incredibly fun, and just another day at Newscorp. (Sub-editor, please redact this line in case they buy us out). Unfortunately, here at The Rotunda the situation is far more boring.
The primary reason The Rotunda uses ‘North Fitzroy’ is because that phrasing is all I (the editor) have ever really known. The significant majority of people I know say North Fitzroy. I graduated from primary school in 2013 and can confidently say that in those days, if you said ‘Fitzroy North’, we’d look at you in befuddlement before laughing you out of the schoolyard. It would be like overhearing someone say they’re spending the holidays in Zealand New or going to the canteen to buy a roll sausage – they must’ve fallen pretty hard off the monkey bars.
Granted, things have changed recently. ‘Fitzroy North’ has increased in popularity, and it is the suburb’s official name – the post office is Fitzroy North LPO, and even the school recently switched from North Fitzroy P.S to Fitzroy North P.S. Apparently, this has backfired. A local Mum informed The Rotunda that the school’s new acronym has absolutely delighted the students, who can now refer to their place of education as Effin’ P.S, and there’s nothing any adult can do about it.
In those days, if you said 'Fitzroy North', we'd look at you in befuddlement before laughing you out of the schoolyard.
So, what’s behind this mysterious shift? One Instagram user suggested its origins
go all the way to the top: “My late father who lived in the area was adamant ‘North Fitzroy’ is correct, and that Fitzroy North is an invention of Australia Post to make sorting mail easier (he never said how he knew this). He did go on to say that North Fitzroy is more appropriate in any event because it suggests a suburb with its own identity rather than one that is merely an appendage of Fitzroy.”
I think that last point is pertinent. North Fitzroy and Fitzroy (A.K.A North Fitzroy South) have been very distinct suburbs for decades now. Crossing Alexandra Parade is like entering a swirling tornado that spits you out into a strange new land (“Ludo, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”). Despite this, more and more are saying ‘Fitzroy North’, so The Rotunda conducted a small (admittedly haphazard) Instagram survey. The data it produced was very interesting.
The question was: Which do you say, and how long have you lived in the area? There were 65 (give or take) responses. It found that the average Fitzroy Norther had lived in the area for 4.5 years. The average North Fitzroyer had lived in the area for 20.5 years. Of the 18 who’d moved here within the last five years, only 2 said North Fitzroy. (The Tramway Hotel, who voted North Fitzroy and asserted that they’d “been here 148 years” was not included in the average). Either way, those unambiguous figures indicate a clear trend.
The passion of respondents varied. Some didn’t care much – one psycho even said he changed based on his mood. A woman revealed that she and her partner say it differently, which is presumably why they aren’t married yet. A teacher at F.N.P.S (also a former student) explained they were forced to fall in line when the school changed their name (its leadership seemingly developing Stalinist tendencies). A vehement teenager even declared the Fitzroy Northers to be “fake residents.”
Clearly, that is a bridge too far, and The Rotunda does not seek to emphatically declare a correct wording nor shame anyone for which they use. Readers will notice that in certain articles, contributors have used Fitzroy North, and this hasn’t been changed. Fitzroy North Primary School is referred to as such because that is its official name.
But The Rotunda cannot bring itself to call the suburb of North Fitzroy anything other than just that. It may have a separate official name, but does that actually mean so much? North Fitzroy flows off the tongue far more easily. It effectively signals a distinction from Fitzroy. Most importantly, North Fitzroy has been known as North Fitzroy for a long time now. So that’s why The Rotunda uses North Fitzroy. Even if does make it a bit harder to sort mail.