First published in age August 5, 1997
John Batman Losing Ground to City Founders
Melbourne’s longest-running debate – the dispute over who founded the city – has been reignited after the controversial decision to rename a major stretch of parkland.
A section of Batman Park was officially severed and renamed in honor of John Batman’s chief rival for the title of founder of Melbourne.
The new area, known as Enterprize Park, was named after the ship commanded by John Pascoe Fawkner that sailed up the Yarra and dropped anchor in August 1835.
Previously, Batman Park stretched along the north bank of the Yarra from Spencer Street to Queens Bridge. Now it only goes to Kings Way, with the rest bearing the new name.
The decision to rename the area Enterprize Park was made by the Place Names Committee, which is part of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
The Founding Day Committee, which recognizes 30 August 1835 as the date when John Lancey and George Evans of the Enterprize set up camp around what is now Flinders Street, had organized a long campaign for the move. Historian Dr Andrew Brown-May, of Monash University, said Melbourne was caught in a fundamental mythology. “Every city in the world seems to have a psychological desire to have a founding father, and Melbourne has this really murky contest between Fawkner and Batman. I think to perpetuate that, it’s pretty… antiquated.