Monday, 21 July 2008

Who was Perry?

I don’t know Perry. I don’t know if it was a first name or a last name. All I know is that when I look in a south-easterly direction from my house, the hills that make up the other side of the Marburg Valley terminate in a bumpy ridge named Perry’s Knob. I don’t know if Perry found it, or owned it, or if he was just a well-endowed local resident.

Google Perry’s Knob and you will find it listed on Queensland rail maps as the centrepoint of the Rosewood train. This is by far grander than it sounds. The official route is Rosewood, Cabanda, Perry’s Knob then Kunkala. Of these, Rosewood is still a working railway and is the terminus of the Brisbane electric rail line. Cabanda and Perry’s Knob are historical points on a map, but don’t exist as actual stations. Kunkala is a restored railway station down a sideroad off the Rosewood-Tallegalla Road. On the last Sunday of the month, enthusiasts run a steam train for visitors. Its sponsoring organisation, the Australian Railway Historical Society refers to the station as Perry's Nob.

Fifteen minutes of a recent meeting on the Marburg website were devoted to a discussion of Perry’s Knob. You see, the map on the front page of the site originally listed Perry’s Nob. After some discussion, a “K” was carefully inserted in front of the “N” which was downgraded to a “n.” The decision was based on official nomenclature and certain peoples' personal pedantry. Some trepidation was involved because the original unmodified map comes from a book that is written by “someone who knows.” I’m presuming that they don’t object to the cropping, colouring, tidying and other aesthetic modifications.

Other than noting that a nob is defined by my trusty OED as “a person of wealth or high social position” or “the head” whereas knob is defined as “a rounded protuberance especially at the end or on the surface of a thing” or a “prominent round hill” I gave no further thought to the matter. Official maps also list the geographical feature as a “knob” rather than a “nob.”

Members of the historical society are troubled however. People whom live on streets named after them, i.e., people who matter in Marburg, aver that it is and always has been “Perry’s Nob.” Discussion was animated and passionate. Should customary usage prevail or should geographical accuracy be adhered to? Is the nob/knob discrepancy related to German-English language issues? Whose feelings would be hurt? On such things do small-town politics ride.

A leaflet on the Main Range (“stretching from the New South Wales border at Wilson’s Peak to north of Cunningham’s Gap, [that] acts as a natural barrier between the Moreton Region and the Darling Downs, and forms part of southeast Queensland’s mountainous Scenic Rim”) published by the Queensland Geological Society refers to Perry’s Knob as an example of remnant basalts left by the volcanic activity that formed the range.

According to an Ipswich City Council document Perry’s Knob was “named after the Perry family who owned the western slopes and the knob itself.” All the maps other than the charming hand-drawn one adapted (with permission) for our website use knob.

So now I know that it was the Perry family and not Perry Something and that they owned the land and the knob. We have a map that aligns with contemporary geographical standards and wider cartographical and geological usage (and incidentally satisfies the geographical pedant though not the local historian). What I don’t know is whether local history and popular usage should trump these. And am I going to be run out of town?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An excellent review, Blithe (probably because your conclusion reinforces my bias). Even a hint of being risque. I've not noticed this part of your personality before!
Another authorative reference that you have not quoted is the large photo reproduced on the wall at the rear entrance to the new IGA store in Rosewood which correctly spells "Knob".