Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


North Dakota's mirror image

Posted 8/02/16 (Tue)

I ran across a real interesting piece of information the other day, or at least I believe it is interesting and an oddity.

Some of you might remember back in April I interviewed a young Australian woman who was visiting Kenmare from Ballarat, Victoria.

We were in the Downtown Square to take pictures and she asked me how Kenmare got started. I told her, adding that there is probably some connection to the only other Kenmare in the world, in Ireland.

She stopped me right there and said, “we have a Kenmare in Victoria.”

I looked it up and yes indeed, there is a Kenmare in the state of Victoria. It was once a town but is now nothing more than a geographical area, with some buildings and a few residents.

That’s interesting in and of itself, but other information I found while looking for Kenmare was stunning.

Just down the road maybe 20 or 30 miles is Beulah, a small town of about 200 people that is a farming community just like the Kenmare geographical area. And guess what they grow, canola, wheat and barley, as well as cattle and sheep.

OK, that’s quite the coincidence that there would be two communities on opposite sides of the world with the same name as two here that both have the same industry.

Folks, that’s only the beginning.

After I found Beulah, I decided to scour the Victoria map for other communities that might have the same name as they do in North Dakota.

Here’s what I found: Linton, Buffalo, Donnybrook, Fingal, Glenburn, Napoleon and Stanley. I also found Allendale, Carlsruhe and Newtown. Communities that sound the same but are spelled slightly different.

There are also three communities in Victoria with the same names as communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan that are very near the North Dakota border. They are Gretna and Killarney, as in Manitoba, and Torquay, as in Saskatchewan.

Victoria is the second smallest state of six states and at least two territories. I didn’t scour the other five states, but it seems uncanny that there would be 12 communities by the same name in a U.S. state and an Australian state.

As an example, Donnybrook is much like Kenmare, it’s a rural area, but is very near the city of Whittlesea. A population isn’t listed, but it has a general store, a tavern, a railway station and believe it or not, a spa.

Glenburn is close to Kenmare in North Dakota as it is in Australia. What’s even more striking is that the two communities are about the closest match in population of any of these 12 communities compared.

Glenburn, Victoria has a population of 360 and Glenburn, North Dakota has a population of 453. Glenburn, Victoria is near the big city of Melbourne and Glenburn, North Dakota is, and this might be a stretch, is near the big city of Minot.

Newtown, however, is quite different than the New Town we know. It has a population of 9,580 and is an upscale neighborhood of the city of Geelong.

Still, it has at least one grain elevator and an International Harvester assembly plant.

Ironically, Stanley, North Dakota and Stanley, Victoria are very similar as well, but with different industries.

We all know how critical cereal grain and oilseed farming are to Stanley, N.D.’s economy. We also know that it is right smack dab in the middle of North Dakota’s oil production.

Stanley, Victoria is farming also, but relies mostly on apples and nut trees. Its other industry is in gold mining, so you have black gold and real gold.

Linton is a small town of 591 people, as compared to Linton, North Dakota, population 1,067.

Much like Stanley, Linton was built up over gold and is a rural community about 100 miles west of Melbourne, near Kenmare, and had numerous Chinese immigrants whose decendents became Australian citizens.

There isn’t a lot written about the small towns in Victoria so I wasn’t able to find out how these 12 communities got their names. I do know, however, that Kenmare, Victoria was named after the Kenmare in Ireland.

And to the best of my knowledge, no other ties to Kenmare, Ireland or Kenmare, North Dakota exist, nor were there any Scandinavian  immigrants who settled there.

But there must be other connections that would warrant further study. It’s a small world isn’t it?