The story behind the naming of Empire Bay

Empire Bay was originally known as ‘Sorrento Estate’ being   the name Arthur Rickard & Co. created when they subdivided the land for sale in 1905/06. Arthur Rickard was an extraverted salesman and he wanted an exotic name for his 152 acre subdivision. He chose the name after the city of Sorrento in Italy.

According to a report written by the Acting Postal Inspector, dated June 1, 1908, a request was received from the Sorrento Progress Association asking for a Post Office be established. They claimed, “The population had increased greatly since the sale of the estate 2 years ago and a Post Office would benefit about 100 permanent residents…There are 28 families within 1 mile of the jetty…the adult population is 75 and includes store keepers, boarding housekeepers, boat proprietors, fern gathers (20 persons employed) and boat builders…it is estimated that the 28 families post 85 letters weekly”.

The report noted that it would be necessary to change the name of the locality because a Post Office named “Sorrento” already existed in Victoria. The report goes on to say that the residents had unanimously chosen “Empire Bay”. Local legend relates that the Postal Inspector was at Sorrento on Empire Day (24th May) and that is why the residents chose Empire Bay.

On the 10th June 1908, the Postmaster General approved the establishment of the Empire Bay Postal Receiving Office. The owner of ‘Sorrento House’ (William Huggart), #9 Sorrento Road, was appointed Postmaster to receive £5 per annum, but his salary increased to £10 the following year when the status of the office was upgraded to Post Office. In 1910, C C Swinburne became Postmaster and moved the office to his general store near the corner of Sorrento & Kendall Roads.

by Robert Thompson