The Melbourne suburb of Prahran is located 5km south east of Melbourne CBD, within the City of Stonnington. The name Prahran was derived from the native name of the area. The story goes as follows.
NSW Surveyor-General (from 1828 to 1837) Thomas Livingstone Mitchell (explorer of south-eastern Australia) stressed the benefits of using the local native names for parishes and townships. “The great convenience of using native names is obvious, future travellers may verify my map. Whereas new names are of no use in this respect”.
Robert Hoddle arrived at Port Phillip with Governor Sir Richard Bourke in March 1837 and was appointed senior surveyor over Robert Russell and his assistants, D’Arcy and Darke.
As per the British System, surveyors usually adopted local (native) names for newly surveyed places and townships. On 31 July 1837, NSW Surveyor General issued instructions to surveyors which read: “you will make at least one reserve for a town or village… (and) will assign to each parish a name, founded on the native appellation of any hill or place therein..”
In 1837, then NSW Governor Richard Bourke decided to establish a Government mission for aborigines in Port Phillip Settlement. An Episcopal missionary from Sydney and a nephew of Port Phillip Police Magistrate Captain William Lonsdale, George Langhorne was put in charge of the mission. Langhorne worked with aborigines living on the banks of Yarra river in Present day Prahran.
When Hoddle had to name a new parish, he met with Langhorne who was working with the aborigines in the area. Langhorne pronounced the native name of the much larger area which stretched from the banks of Yarra where he was stationed to south east towards Oakleigh and Brighton, ‘Pur-ra-ran’, a compound of two Aboriginal words, meaning “land partially surrounded by water”. Hoddle wrote it down as Prahran and the name appeared on land titles issued at that time. Later the name Prahran was used for a settlement near the area close to where Prahran today is. In 1855, when a new Municipality was created, it was given the name, ‘Prahran’.