The early settlers of Melbourne were a cowardly and superstitious lot. Cowed by the arrogance of Batman and the pomposity of Fawkner, living in a time before electric light and fearing the darkness and all the things it held, they spent most nights cowering in their huts, awaiting the coming of the Moon, which was the most effective source of nocturnal illumination.

And thus it was, as gazes turned eastward each evening to await the lunar ascent, that the land to the east of Melbourne got its name from an early German settler, Reich-mond, the realm of the moon. There are many arguments about exactly what area was believed to be included under that name. Some claimed that only the land beyond the distant Dandenong Ranges was truly the Reichmond, others that it denoted all the land between Spring St and the Dandenongs. But as settlement expanded along the south-eastern bank of the Yarra, and satellite villages were planted in what is now Hawthorn and Kew, it came to be that the Reichmond, now frequently just spelled Richmond, was the land between the Hoddle Grid’s eastern extremity and the north-western banks of the Yarra. Over time, portions of this land too would be hived off: a real estate development adjacent to the city would label itself East Melbourne (for the greater prestige of the Melbourne name), and sub-areas of Richmond, such as Cremorne and Burnley, would develop.

Richmond today little resembles the Reich-mond of old. In place of the lightly wooded gentle hills lies a mostly flat area, densely inhabited. But then as now, the majority of the people who live there are recent immigrants to Melbourne.

Suburbs near Richmond:

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