Thirroul was most likely misnamed because of an old Illawarra Mercury editor's dubious handwriting, and the probably narrow mind of a government clerk.
The town, known for its cabbage tree palms, could rightly have taken the name Dthirrawell - similar, more nuanced, certainly more elegant than the modern local term Frool.
Through the 1890s there had been uncertainty about what to name the new town growing to the north of Bulli - North Bulli and Newtown both got their somewhat unimaginative turns.
In 1880 village leaders gathered at George Whitford's house, on the site of what is now the Ryan's Hotel and discussed the name. The Mercury of February 24 reported that after some complaining about the state of the roads, the meeting, chaired by local landowner Frederick Robbins, agreed on the name Robbinsville.
That lasted a decade, until the Railways Department sought to rename the train station, which had opened as Robbinsville in 1887.
Enter Mercury owner/editor Archibald Campbell, who was interested in Aboriginal names and kept a list of terms which he had come across from local dialects. He forwarded some to Railways for consideration - in what might best be described as a writing unexpected - with Dthirrawell, an indigenous word for the cabbage tree palm, a leading suggestion.
Some thought Thirroul was misnamed after "Throon" - an indigenous word for leeches, which were collected at the base of the escarpment, to be used in medicine. Port Kembla Aboriginal elder William Sadler suggested this in an 1892 letter to the Mercury.
But a picture of Campbell's note to Railways lends more weight to the Dthirrawell theory, showing how it could have been mis-read - particularly when Aboriginal names were often simplified or Anglicised by Europeans.
In the November 1994 edition of the Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin, now-retired former UOW historian Joseph Davis solved the case.
"Some delicate soul (presumably the Government Clerk) appears to have decided that a word meaning 'leech' was unsuitable for such a distinguished village ... and opted for the word 'Dthirrawell'," he wrote.
"However, because of Archibald Campbell's atrocious handwriting the clerk transcribed the word for cabbage tree [as] 'Thirroul'.
"The clerk appears to have thought the 'Dth' combination unsuitable for English-speaking ears and so elided the initial 'D'. He also appears to have altered the middle 'aw' to 'o' and to have mis-read the poorly written 'ell' as 'ul'.
"And so Thirroul was to lose its original Koori name and, in time, an export industry [leeches] as well."
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