If you’ve had Ernst Wanke Road catch your eye when you were looking at Berwick in the map, and wondered “what the?”, then wonder no longer.
The Wanke Family: Settlers From the German States
Ernst Gottlieb Wanke was a Doctor of Dentistry and was born in around 1821 in Prussia. The Wanke family arrived in Victoria in 1849 on the ‘Dockenuden’ and settled in Harkaway in the 1850s. Ernst died in 1897 and is buried in Harkaway Cemetery.
The Wanke family have an important connection with Harkaway and Narre Warren North. Ernst Wanke Drive is named in their honour and they are remembered as a hardworking migrant family who were successful farmers.
Ernst became well-known in the district as a sort of doctor, even though he was a Doctor of Dentistry! It goes to show that any medical knowledge was welcomed at a time when the nearest doctor was hours away.
And if you’re wondering how to pronounce it, this recent kerfuffle over a local councillor who claimed it was “von-ka” revealed the truth:
Having lived in Berwick for over 70 years and personally knowing three generations of the Wanke family, they have all pronounced it ‘wan-kee’ and they are not impressed by Ben Clissold’s remarks.
So there you go.
It’s a big wide world, with lots of different languages, and sometimes you’ll get names like this which raise a sly smile.
But the bottom line is Ernst Wanke sounds like he was a valued member of his community, and a citizen worthy of having a road named after him.