How Murdering Gully near Merewether got its name

Mysterious Name: How did Murdering Gully get its name? The truth is out there ... somewhere. Image: Google Maps
Mysterious Name: How did Murdering Gully get its name? The truth is out there ... somewhere. Image: Google Maps

How did Murdering Gully get its name?

Topics asked this question last week and received some very interesting responses.

The gully is between Glenrock Lagoon and Merewether in the Burwood beach area.   

John from Charlestown told Topics that the gully got its name from its steepness.

John said horses were used years ago to cart material down the gully to the sewage treatment works.

“The climb back out of the gully was so steep. It used to exhaust the horses,” John said. 

“It was such a dreadful haul for the animals, up and down this steep gully.

“They called it Murdering Gully because it was a murderous climb.”

 Former NBN news anchor Ray Dinneen said it was actually known as “Murmuring Gully”.

This was because of the “subdued, continuous sound made by Flaggy Creek”.

“In fact, the word ‘murmur’ is derived from the Greek word ‘mormorõ’, which means ‘of water’.

“However, some Novocastrians got a bit mixed up and began calling it Murdering Gully.

“And that is the name that has stuck.”

We’re not quite sure if Ray is pulling our leg.

Lenore Black (nee Upfold) thinks she knows for sure how the gully got its name.

“Two ladies were picking ferns over near Glenrock Lagoon in 1933,” she said.

“They found the body of a man under a clump of lantana bush.”

Lenore, 85, lives at Belmont North, but she lived at Merewether for many years.

She was born in 1932.

“I remember people talking about it [the apparent murder] later on,” she said.

“It was a badly decomposed body that could not be identified. It was taken to the city morgue.” 

Early Birds 

 Bill Gregson and Jeanne Walls at the old Newcastle Park Royal.

Bill Gregson and Jeanne Walls at the old Newcastle Park Royal.

The Newcastle Parkroyal was once in Newcastle West, where the Travelodge now stands.

The hotel used to run a monthly breakfast for women in the 1980s called the Early Birds Club.

About 100 working women regularly attended the breakfast.

It was a forerunner of the women’s organisations that exist today in the business world. 

Jeanne Walls was a marketing manager for the hotel chain at the time.

Jeanne Walls (nee Raschke) and Peter Burgess, who was Newcastle’s first concierge.

Jeanne Walls (nee Raschke) and Peter Burgess, who was Newcastle’s first concierge.

She joked that the “Early Birds” name wouldn’t go down too well these days.

“You wouldn’t get away with it now,” she said.

“If I said that now, my daughter would say ‘mum, that’s terribly inappropriate’.”

But back then, Jeanne said the club gave women “a sense of self”.

A 35-year reunion of the club will be held at Newcastle Travelodge on Saturday. 

Contact Julie Vallender for bookings or more information on 0409 714 691. 

  • topics@theherald.com.au