Lilydale is, actually, a dale in which lilies grow. But that’s not why it’s called that.

Similarly, it has frequently been inhabited by people named Dale or Lily. It’s not named after any of them, either.

In fact, and in defiance of its apparently English language roots, the name of Lilydale derives from a French dialect, specifically one from the region to the south and west of Carcassone, which features a number of loan words from Aragonese (and, curiously, from Irish Gaelic). Lilydale is a literal reading of the letters that make up the name of the area in this French sub-tongue: “L’il y dáil” – “The place where men take counsel”.

Since the first settlement in the Lilydale area was actually a refuge for women founded by a suffragette group, who sought to use the comparative isolation of the area as a defence against men who might seek to take back the wives who had fled them, it is possible that the name was intended as a warning: men would be well-counselled to stay away. The suffragettes were no fools, after all – they had made sure that they were well-armed as well, allaying any male suspicions by citing the supposed dangers of wild animals and untamed natives. In fact, the suffragettes got along better with the natives (the locals were members of the Wurundjeri people, who found the women’s willingness to negotiate – and listen to well-meant advice – a refreshing change).

But when the area was being mapped, during the 1890’s, Australia was undergoing one of its periodic racist contractions. The women wrote the name of their station down just as it was, but before long, the spaces, accent and apostrophe were all dropped, leaving the name we use today: Lilydale. The “L’il y dáil” station is now long gone, its few remaining timbers and foundations now drowned by an artificial lake.

Suburbs near Lilydale:

Chirnside Park Coldstream Coldstream Coldstream Coldstream
Chirnside Park Lilydale Lilydale Lilydale Coldstream
Mooroolbark Lilydale Lilydale Lilydale Wandin North
Mooroolbark Lilydale Lilydale Mount Evelyn Wandin North
Mooroolbark Mooroolbark Lilydale Mount Evelyn Wandin North
Mooroolbark Montrose Lilydale Mount Evelyn Mount Evelyn
Mooroolbark Montrose Montrose Montrose Mount Evelyn
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