It is unclear where exactly the name Footscray comes from. There are two competing theories, both of which have their points, and both of which derive from the same incident.

That incident, of course, derives from the Royal Visit of Queen Victoria to the colony that bore her name in 1868. Setting foot on the western bank of the Maribyrnong River for the first time, she accidentally stepped into a concealed puddle. The puddle in question would turn out to be a particularly deep and muddy one, and moreover, located directly above the home of two platypuses and their puggles. When their roof collapsed on them, the two adults attacked the offending foot, the female biting it and the male stinging it. When a shocked Queen withdrew her foot, now covered in chalky mud, the beasts, likewise mud-covered, clung to it. It took several hours to remove them, and resulted in considerable indignity to the royal personage (to say nothing of the hours of excruciating pain she endured from the venom).

The Queen was not amused. She immediately returned home to the tender attentions of the Royal Physician in Extraordinary, Sir William Withey Gull (just coincidentally, one of the main suspects for the crimes of Jack the Ripper), and decreed that all records and evidence of her visit to the colonies be destroyed, which it was. But she could not stop word of mouth.

And word of mouth was mostly interested in what the Prince Consort was alleged to have said to his wife when she pulled her muddy, platypus-infested foot from the hole. Was it “Your foot’s grey” or “Your foot’s scary”? There were partisans for each story, and the words soon morphed into the name of the area where it had happened. But it took the larrikin genius of Al Stimson to merge the two names by a single deliberate misspelling – one which caught on with all those who were tired of the pointless argument.

Suburbs near Footscray:

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