Broadmeadows is a residential and industrial suburb 16 km. north of Melbourne and until 1994 it was a municipality.

The lightly wooded landscape between the Merri and Moonee Ponds Creeks attracted pastoralists in the 1840s. In 1850 a Government survey laid out a township in an area along the Moonee Ponds Creek valley, now known as Westmeadows, but then named Broadmeadow. An Anglican church was built in 1850, and the church, police station and Broadmeadows hotel (now Westmeadows Tavern), in Ardlie Street were the first village centre. The old Council chamber and office are nearby.

East of the old village is today’s Broadmeadows, for which the early town centre was Campbellfield. In 1857 the Broadmeadows District Road Board was formed. Its area had Essendon on the south and it extended as far north as Mickleham, placing the village very much in the southern third of the Road District.

A primary school was established by the Anglican church in 1851, becoming a State school in 1870 (now Westmeadows). In 1872 the railway line was extended form Essendon to Seymour, creating a station about 2 km. east of the village. At the height of the landboom in 1889 another line was opened from Coburg, joining the Seymour line at Somerton. A station was provided at Campbellfield. These lines tended to draw subdivision and speculation eastwards, away from the Broadmeadows village. Hence the naming of the local municipal council as Broadmeadows shire on 27 January, 1871, did not reflect where the district’s future prosperity lay. The village was isolated westwards, separated from the railway areas by open grass lands. Broadmeadows consisted of farms, many of them dairying, and the few large holdings were subject to closer settlement subdivision during the early 1900s. The shire was enlarged on 1 October, 1915, when the shire of Merriang, to the north-west, was added. In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Broadmeadows as –

Two weeks and one day after the outbreak of the first world war the Australian Army established the Broadmeadows Military Camp in the open area between Broadmeadows and Campbellfield. Reticulated water was connected in five days, a project which the shire had been unable to persuade the Board of Works to undertake in seven years of negotiation. The camp and the surrounding areas were the venue of numerous bivouacs and military exercises.

Residential subdivisions had been released in the shire’s southern areas since the 1880s, and much of the land was not built on by the end of the first world war. More subdivision took place in the 1920s, and Broadmeadows had its (railway) Station Estate. Reticulated water and electricity were connected to the southern part of the shire in 1924 and 1925, and the railway was electrified in 1921. In 1928 new shire offices were opened near the railway station. These conveniences, plus the quicker travelling time to Melbourne, potentially made Broadmeadows more appealing for residential settlement. The line through Campbellfield, however, was closed between 1903 and 1928, when an infrequent service was resumed. During the 1930s financial depression the military camp accommodated unemployed men. The Broadmeadows landscape, however, remained one of small farms and derelict, undeveloped subdivisions, amounting to 17,000 allotments. In 1949 The Australian Blue Book described the Broadmeadows shire as –

In 1951 the Victorian Housing Commission announced its proposal to take over 2,270 ha. of land in Broadmeadows for a housing estate. The Commission’s housing construction proceeded apace, but the provision of shops and other facilities lagged. Glenroy became the main lcoal shopping area, four kilometres to the south. Schools were opened in time for the new population: Broadmeadows East and Broadmeadows South (later Glenroy North), in 1956, and Broadmeadows and Eastmeadows in 1961, the latter also attended by children from a migrant hostel in the military camp. The Commission built in the area between Broadmeadows and Glenroy in 1958, and the Jacana and Campmeadows primary schools were opened the following year. During the 1960s three secondary schools were opened – two technical and one high. Catholic schools comprise a primary, a co-educational secondary and a boys’ secondary.

Some way through Broadmeadows’ urbanisation it was decided to sever the rural parts north of Somerton Road and attach them to the adjoining shire. This occurred on 31 May, 1955, and next year on 30 May Broadmeadows was proclaimed a city. Six months later the Housing Commission began the transfer of a wedge of its land at Upfield and Campbellfield for the Ford motor car factory, which reactivated the railway which had been closed (again) the previous year. The Ford factory opened in 1959 and four other substantial factories opened the following year along the Hume Highway.

Schools were overcrowded, swimming pools unbuilt until 1962 and speech nights were held at Coburg or Essendon. A new civic hall and council offices were built in 1964. The adjoining local shopping centre, Meadow Fair, existed only on Housing Commission paper until the 1970s, and finally in 1974 it was completed. It is now the Broadmeadows Shopping Square, considerably enlarged to over 20,000 sq. metres of gross lettable area. The site for a hospital, however, still remained empty in the mid 1990s.

During the 1970s and 1980s Broadmeadows had a reputation for boisterous youth: the Broady Boys rode the trains and daubed graffiti proclaiming that they “rule, O.K.” By the 1990s this had lessened and there was a catch-up of some of the facilities long denied. Jacana gained a golf course, much of Westmeadows is a reserve, the town park and a TAFE are opposite the civic offices and there are two reserves beside the reduced military barracks. The technical school site is occupied by an Islamic College and there are four other secondary colleges. Space is reserved for further enlargement of the shopping centre, but public libraries are in other town areas under the Council’s jurisdiction (1996).

The Broadmeadows municipality contained Campbellfield, Collaroo, Dallas, Fawkner, Gladstone Park, Glenroy, Oak Park, Tullamarine, Upfield and Westmeadows. (Some of these contained smaller localities which are mentioned in their descriptions.) On 15 December, 1994, Broadmeadows city was united with most of Bulla shire and parts of Keilor and Whittlesea cities to form Hume city.

Broadmeadows’ census populations were 333 (1861), 192 (1911) and 522 (1947). The municipality’s census populations have been 2,100 (1911), 8,971 (1947), 23,065 91954), 66,306 (1961, after severance of the northern area), 101,100 (1971) and 102,996 (1991).

Further Reading:

  • Lemon, Andrew, “Broadmeadows: A Forgotten History”, City of Broadmeadows and Hargren Publishing Company, 1982.


Blackburn is a residential suburb 17 km. east of Melbourne, between Box Hill and Nunawading. About 400 metres south of the township is the Blackburn Creek, thought to have been named after an early settler or after James Blackburn, the designer of Melbourne’s Yan Yean water supply. The first settlement was along the creek and was called Blackburn Creek.

A hotel was built on the site of the present Blackburn Hotel in Whitehorse Road in 1861, serving travellers to Healesville and the Gippsland goldfields around Woods Point. Another was opened near the creek in 1865. A post office was opened in 1876 and the Box Hill to Lilydale railway in 1882. The 1880s saw a spate of development, partly induced by the railway and strongly promoted by subdividers. The most active was the Freehold Investment and Banking Company which acquired thirty small farms and laid out a model township distinguishable by the triangular street design south of the railway station. The company is credited with building the public hall (1888), and damming the creek to form the Blackburn Lake (1889). One of the company’s officers, T. Morton, lived in Blackburn, was active in building the first Anglican Church (1890), and is commemorated by Morton Park. The Methodist Church was opened two years before, and the primary school in 1889. The main industries were a brickworks, orchards and other farming.

The 1890s depression curtailed land development schemes. The Adult Deaf Society purchased land adjoining the lake in 1919 and built a large home. It also established a flower farm of about 5 ha. The Society still has land north-west of the lake. Blackburn underwent steady growth between the first and second world wars. An open-air primary school for children in need of recuperation was opened in 1913 and one in Blackburn South in 1920. A cool store was opened in 1918 and the Blue Moon Fruit Co-operative built its fruit cannery in 1930. Blackburn was described in The Victorian Municipal Directory in 1940 as –

During the early 1950s Blackburn’s residential growth quickened. Its shopping centre attracted an aggressive price cutting grocer, Anstey’s, whose self-service supermarket contributed to the end of retail price maintenance. He was situated in an area with increasing numbers of growing families who wanted food and groceries at discounted prices.

Ever since the early subdividers created the Blackburn Lake the community was conscious of its local bushland. In 1959 a tree-preservation society was formed, alarmed by the loss of tree cover in residential subdivisions and alongside roads. Their activities have probably encouraged tree planting by residents in their house allotments, as well as the more obvious plantings in public areas.

In 1956 a high school was opened and four year later a technical school (Blackburn North). In the 1960s and beyond residential growth occurred in Blackburn North which extends to Doncaster and in Blackburn South which extends to Burwood East.

The strip shopping centre near the railway line is moderately active, and about 600 metres north of the Maroondah Highway there is a drive-in shopping centre, North Blackburn Square. In addition to the natural landscape around the Blackburn Lake there is a linear park along the Blackburn Creek and a reserve with an oval and other facilities near the shopping centre.

Blackburn had census population of 1,158 (1911) and 2,616 (1933).

Further Reading:

  • Da Costa, Robin, “Blackburn: A Picturesque History”, Pioneer Design Studio Pty. Ltd., 1978.


Preston, a residential and industrial suburb 9 km. north of Melbourne, was also a municipality from 1885 to 1994.

The area was surveyed by Robert Hoddle and subdivided into farm allotments in 1837. The origins of Preston’s settlement were generally along the Plenty Road, from Melbourne to the Plenty Ranges. In 1850 Edward Wood opened a store at the corner of High and Wood Streets, High Street branching off Plenty Road and being a route to Sydney. Wood, who came from Sussex, England, is though to have given the name Preston, after Preston in Sussex. He was a founding member of the Baptist Church (1859). Hotels were established near Woods store and near the junction of High Street and Plenty Road, two kilometres to the south. Between these two localities is modern-day Preston central, known as Gowerville in the 1880s.

In 1854 Anglican and Wesleyan primary schools were opened, and in 1866 the first State school was opened just east of the High Street/Plenty Road junction. Another school, Tyler Street, was opened in 1875 in the vicinity of Woods store, shortly after the denominational schools closed.

Not all of Preston’s land was good for farming, dairying and market gardens. Building material was cut from the basalt and the non-basaltic areas yielded clay for potteries and bricks. A bacon-curing factory began in 1862 and a tannery in 1865. Several larger factories followed, notably Huttons Hams and Bacons and Zwar’s Parkside Tannery.

Preston’s first involvement in local government was as part of the Epping Roads District in 1854, which included Northcote. In 1870 the Epping District was amalgamated with Merriang, Whittlesea, Morang and Woodstock Roads Districts to form a very large Darebin shire. The following year Preston and Northcote were separated from Darebin to form the Jika Jika shire. On 11 September, 1885, Preston and Northcote were proclaimed as separate shires.

In 1889 a railway line from Collingwood was opened via Preston to Whittlesea. Stations were provided at Bell Street (now Bell), Preston (formerly Gowerville at Murray Road, where the town hall was to be built), Regent Street (now Regent) and at Reservoir. The Australian Handbook, 1893, described Preston as –

The Australian Handbook, 1893, described Preston as -

During the 1880s numerous subdivisions for residential development were released in Preston, relying on the extension of the railway to promote sales. It has been estimated that sufficient allotments were available to house 20,000 people, but the population grew from about 2,000 to 3,600 between 1887 and 1891. Most subdivisions hugged the Plenty Road/High Street corridor, with others to the west along Gilbert Road. The areas taken up for building were mainly in the corridor well into the next century.

Preston’s urban growth spurt came in the 1920s. The railway journey to Melbourne had been improved by a direct connection between Collingwood and Melbourne (instead of a westerly loop to Spencer Street) in 1904, and a tram service to Melbourne was opened in 1920. The tramsheds were opened in 1925. The trains were electrified the following year. Electricity reticulation was begun in 1914 and sewering of the Preston district was undertaken in 1909-15. The West Preston primary school (actually close to Preston central) was opened in 1915 and by 1928 had over 1,000 pupils. The Preston East primary school about two kilometres from West Preston, was opened in 1928 and the Girls’ High School in 1929. By 1930 shopping strips had formed along High Street and Plenty Road, and most of the suburban streets to the east and west were completely settled., On 14 March, 1922, Preston was proclaimed a borough, two months later a town and on 14 July, 1926, a city.

The 1930s depression affected new home-dwellers and the new council at an economically vulnerable time, when financial reserves were scant or non-existent. A bright patch was Roy (“Up There”) Cazaly’s coaching of the Preston Football Club in 1931.

During the world wars two local men who enlisted gave their names to future localities: both were V.C. winners – Private Bruce Kingsbury (posthumously awarded), and William Ruthven, (New Guinea), first world war. Kingsbury adjoins Bundoora and Ruthven is the name of a railway station and primary school in Reservoir.

Preston, in conjunction with Brunswick and Northcote, have elected some notable politicians to State and Commonwealth Parliaments. Frank Austey (1865-1940) served in both parliaments and John Cain (senior) was Victorian Premier three times between 1943 and 1955. Left wing political agitation influenced the provision of municipal relief work during the depression. Although some jobless residents left the area, the improvements to parks and pavements helped to attract new residents. The population grew by 40% between the 1933 and 1947 censuses. In the earlier part of this growth the Technical School was opened (1937), later to become a Technical College (1964) and finally the Preston Institute of Technology.

Between 1947 and 1954 Preston municipality’s population grew by 37%, reaching nearly 64,000. The West Preston primary school’s enrolments topped 1,000 until other schools were built. Between 1947 and 1966 the Housing Commission built about 2,600 dwellings in east Preston and in the Reservoir area. In 1966 11% of Preston municipality’s population was in Commission dwellings. During the 1960s the Council actively promoted street-construction schemes to overcome a backlog of suburban quagmires. In 1958 the Preston and Northcote Councils achieved a fifteen year vision when the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital (PANCH) was opened in Bell Street.

The Housing Commission disposed of some of its land in East Preston in 1963 to the Myer Emporium, and on 4 October, 1966, the Northland drive-in shopping centre was opened. Further east there was more unoccupied land where a wedge of the Preston municipality occupied Bundoora. In 1964 the site for Victoria’s (third) La Trobe University was announced and it opened in March, 1967. It adjoins hospital facilities at Mont Park.

The continuing population growth through the 1960s stimulated the building of secondary schools. Preston east technical and high schools were opened near Northland in 1960 and 1964 respectively, the former later becoming Northland Secondary College. (In 1993-5 the College was the subject of dispute on the grounds that its closure discriminated against Koori children.)

The suburb of Preston is located in the south of its former municipal area. Other place names in the Preston suburb are Bell (railway station and primary school) and Regent (railway station). The north of the former municipal area included Keon Park, Kingsbury, Reservoir and Ruthven (railway station and primary school). High Street, Preston, and the Preston market are strong retailing areas, being about two kilometres from Northland and having a considerable catchment in West Preston.

Preston’s parks and recreation spaces are not numerous. There were two drive-in theatres in East Preston in the 1980s, but by 1995 the only drive-in theatre in inner metropolitan Melbourne was in neighbouring Coburg. In 1981 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works confirmed its designation in 1954 of Preston as a District Centre.

In 1986 about 30% of the residents of Preston municipality were born overseas, slightly more than for metropolitan Melbourne. Eleven percent were Italian born, compared with 3.5% for metropolitan Melbourne.

The median house price in Preston in 1987 and 1996 was about 83% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne.

On 22 June, 1994, Preston city was united with most of Northcote city and a small part of Coburg city to form Darebin city.

Preston’s census populations have been 623 (1861), 3,563 (1891) and 6,555 (1921). The Preston municipality’s census populations were 5,049 (1911), 33,442 (1933), 46,775 (1947), 84,146 (1961) and 76,996 (1991).

Further Reading:

  • Carroll, Brian and Rule, Ian, “Preston: An Illustrated History”, City of Preston, 1985.
  • Forster, H.W., “Preston Lands and People”, F.W. Cheshire, 1968.


Wodonga is a provincial city in north-east Victoria, bordered by Albury on the other side of the Murray River. It was named after the Wodonga pastoral run, taken
up by Paul Huon in 1836, although it was his brother Charles who became the district’s pioneer.

Immediately north of Wodonga are the Wodonga river flats, through which passes the flood-prone Murray River. At the point where the Wodonga Creek and the Sydney road intersected with the Murray River, a town was surveyed by the Victorian government surveyor in 1852. It was named Belvoir, after Charles Huon’s homestead. The formation of other official townships along the Sydney road in the next few years marked the road as the main inter-colonial truck route, and Belvoir’s position immediately before the river crossing made it a stopping-off place. During the 1860s Belvoir became known as Wodonga (thought to be an Aboriginal word meaning bulrushes), and a gazettal on 7 August, 1874, confirmed the change of name.

By 1865 Belvoir had a school (1857), a court of petty sessions, branches of insurance offices, two hotels, a flour mill, and a saw mill. The estimated population was 500 persons.

During the 1870s Wodonga’s population increased rapidly: pastoral runs were opened for selection and the railway from Melbourne to Wodonga was opened in 1873. Wodonga shire was created on 10 March, 1876, its area including Bandiana and Bonegilla to the south-east of Wodonga. Its area was 167 square kilometres. The first causeway across the Wodonga flats was formed in 1870, becoming the forerunner of the Lincoln Causeway on which the Hume Highway was built. In 1890 a branch railway line to Tallangatta, east of Wodonga, was opened.

The animal saleyard at Wodonga had large throughputs of meat and dairy cattle and, when the Victorian border tax reduced sales, horses for the Indian Army were bred locally and sold through Wodonga. Dairying along the river flats was active and the Wodonga Butter Factory was amalgamated with others to become the North-Eastern Dairy Company.

In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Wodonga –

In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Wodonga

In 1919 the River Murray Commission began construction of the Hume Dam upstream of Wodonga, about twelve kilometres eastwards. Starting at a time when settlement of an irrigated Murray Valley would make it a “land fit for heroes”, the project was completed in 1936 towards the end of the depression. During the course of the project the temporary Ebden Weir township housed up to 500 workers and their families, and its site is marked by a memorial erected in 1924, the centenary of Hume and Hovell’s southern exploration. (Ebden was named after Charles Ebden, pastoralist.)

During the second world war military camps were established east of Wodonga at Bandiana and Bonegilla. Bonegilla was used for training infantry, and bomb-disposal personnel. It later became a migrant reception centre, and many immigrants settled in Wodonga in the immediate postwar years. Postwar industries were established in clothing, timber milling and pipe-making. The shire’s populations more than doubled between 1947 and 1954. In 1949 it was described in The Australian Blue Book –

In 1949 Wondonga was described in The Australian Blue Book

Further industries were opened in Wodonga, notably Uncle Ben’s pet food (1967). In 1973 the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian Governments agreed to the Albury-Wodonga Development Scheme, for a decentralised growth area. Although the growth fell short of projections, Wodonga municipality’s population doubled between 1971 and 1991 to 26,389. Wodonga is the minor partner to Albury, having 30% of Albury-Wodonga’s office space (1986) and about the same proportion of retail floor space.

During 1954-63 two primary schools, a high school and a technical school were opened. Wodonga West primary school was for children from Housing Commission estates and from married quarters at the Bandiana military camp. Since then two more primary schools, a secondary college, the Clyde Cameron Trade Union College and a LaTrobe University Campus have been opened.

Wodonga has a racecourse, recreation reserve and showgrounds near the Bandiana military camp, a large livestock saleyards, several parks along watercourses, sports ovals, a golf course, an indoor sports and leisure centre and a wide range of other community services. The town and residential area were bypassed in 1985 by an extension of the Hume Freeway, joined to the Lincoln Causeway.

Wodonga had eleven hotels and motels in 1997, providing 668 bed spaces. The median house price in Wodonga in 1987 was $74,000 and 1996 it was $108,750. Wodonga’s farm activity is grazing, with 100,000 cattle and 16,900 sheep and lambs in 1994.

In 1996 the median weekly personal income of residents aged 15 years or more was $300, which was $29 higher than the median for the Ovens-Murray region.

Wodonga’s census populations have been 254 (1861), 909 (1901), 3,066 (1947) and 7,789 (1961). After then the published population figures have been for Albury-Wodonga. The municipality’s census populations have been 1,568 (1881), 3,250 (1933), 10,924 (1954), 18,087 (1981) and 29,188 (1996).

Further Reading:

  • Albury-Wodonga Future Directions Final Report July, 1990, Albury-Wodonga
    Region Planning Committee, 1990.
  • Dunlop, Alan J., Wodonga Over River and Plain, Hawthorn Press,
  • Joes, Howard C., Wodonga City: a Jubilee History, Wodonga Rural
    City Council, 1998.
  • Martin, Desmond, A Tale of Twin Cities: Part 1 – The Founding Years,
    Graphic Books, 1981.


Wangaratta is a provincial city in north-east Victoria, 210 km. from Melbourne and 70 km. from Albury. It is situated at the junction of the Ovens and King Rivers which flow generally northwards from the Mount Buffalo plateau and the Mount Buller area respectively.

The first European explorers to pass through the Wangaratta area were Hume and Hovell (1824) who named the Oxley Plains immediately south of Wangaratta. The New South Wales Surveyor-General, Major Thomas Mitchell, crossed the Ovens River in 1836 during his Australia Felix expedition. There is a “Mitchell tree” near where Murphy Street, Wangaratta, meets the Ovens River, stated to be a place where Mitchell stopped. In the following year George and William Faithfull settled at the Bontharambo pastoral station, north of Wangaratta. In 1838 their place was taken by Joseph Docker. Docker’s Bontharambo homestead (1858) is on the Register of the National Estate.

A punt for crossing the Ovens River was begun by a man named Rattray in 1838. The Hope Inn, now the Sydney Hotel at Ovens and Templeton Streets, was opened in 1840. Ovens Crossing, as it was called, formed a settlement which became Wangaratta. In 1848 the Port Phillip surveyor, Robert Hoddle, arranged for a town survey at Ovens Crossing, consisting of eleven streets and about 200 blocks. It was named Wangaratta, reputedly derived from an Aboriginal word meaning cormorant’s resting place. Land sales took place in 1849-50. A primary school was opened in 1850, and the site continues as that of the Wangaratta State primary school.

The discovery of gold in the Ovens Valley in 1852 stimulated the growth of Wangaratta, as miners used the punt crossing and the bridge which replaced it in 1855. On 19 June, 1863, Wangaratta was created a borough. By about that time Wangaratta had a petty sessions court, a racecourse, branches of banks and insurance companies, an agricultural society, flour mills, breweries, and Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches. (In 1902 Wangaratta became an Anglican Diocese, and a Cathedral Church was built.)

In 1873 the railway line from Melbourne to the State border, via Wangaratta, was opened. By about the turn of the century Wangaratta’s preeminence in north-eastern Victoria was emerging – the creation of the Anglican Diocese being an example. The Australian Handbook, 1903, described Wangaratta –

Wangaratta became a provincial retailing area for north-eastern Victoria, Callenders emporium and Osmotherly’s drapery being examples. The North-Eastern
Co-operative Society advertised itself as running the Greatest Store in the North East. Wangaratta also became a provincial educational centre with the opening of a State high school (1909), a Catholic technical school and a State technical school (1923). Manufacturing in the form of butter and cordial factories, a foundry and coach works was significantly diversified in 1923 when the proprietor of Callender’s emporium was made the first chairman of the Wangaratta Woollen Mills.

In 1942 an aluminum factory was established at Wangaratta as a war-time industry. Although the factory ceased operation as the Japanese forces retreated,
the building was taken by Bruck Mills (Canada) in 1947 for rayon production. The Bruck Mills workforce exceeded 1,000 at its peak. It has been a civic-minded
firm which has sponsored public utilities and financially assisted the building of houses. The Wangaratta borough was described in The Australian Blue Book, 1949 –

During the first fifteen postwar years Wangaratta’s population doubled to over 13,000 persons. Partly this was attributed to some emigration from rural centres, but a steady growth of manufacturing and tertiary employment was more significant. Housing was built by local co-operatives and the Housing Commission. The Commission’s estate is south of the city, close to the textile mills. Wangaratta borough became a city on 15 April, 1959.

In 1970 Yakka Overalls opened a factory employing about 250 workers. By 1988 it was estimated that the three large textile and clothing factories
employed about 1,300 or 70% of workers engaged in manufacturing in Wangaratta. This was a cause of concern as textile tariffs were lowered. Partly the concern was offset as employment in the tertiary sector grew –

Industry Percentage of workforce
1976 1986
Manufacturing 25.7 23.2
21.0 21.3
14.8 19.8

Cutbacks in community-service employment during the next ten years, however, dented this trend.

The industrial area is on the Melbourne side of Wangaratta, both sides of the Hume Highway and the railway line. An airport is further south. An encouraging addition to the manufacturing sector was a computer plant opened by IBM in 1986.

Wangaratta’s commercial and retail area is in the north-east of the built-up area, and adjoins the Ovens River where the town area began. Although there are large Kmart and Coles drive-in shops, the traditional retailing strips have not had to contend with a free-standing shopping centre (1997).

Wangaratta has a TAFE, two State secondary and three State primary schools. Along the Ovens River there are several parklands and a camping area. There are also showgrounds, a racecourse, a trotting track and a range of sports facilities.

Tourism has had a significant presence in Wangaratta with hotels in the commercial area and more recent motels. In 1997 there were six hotels/motels offering 896 bed spaces. Wangaratta is 55 km. from Mount Buffalo, 100 km. from the Falls Creek and Mount Hotham snow fields and 40 km. from the north-eastern vineyards. Local attractions include the Airworld aircraft museum and an annual festival of jazz and blues. The shopping centre has over 200 shops and in 1986 equalled the size of the shopping centre in Wodonga. Wangaratta’s shopping centre had nearly one third of the retail floor space in north-eastern Victoria.

In 1996 the median weekly income of residents of 15 years or more was $269, compared with a Victorian median of $290.

On 18 November, Wangaratta city was united with Wangaratta shire and parts of Oxley, Beechworth, Benalla and Yarrawonga shires to form Milawa shire.

Median house prices in Wangaratta in 1987 and 1996 were $66,000 and $91,000

Wangaratta’s census populations have been 612 (1861), 1,331 (1881), 4,136 (1911), 6,670 (1947) 10,715 (1954) and 15,527 (1996).

Postcard. Murphy Street, Wangaratta.

Further Reading:

  • O’Callaghan, Bill and Findlay, Bill, “Wangaratta, 1959-1984: A Silver
    City”, City of Wangaratta, 1984.
  • “Wangaratta: Capital of North Eastern Victoria”, Committee
    of the Back to Wangaratta Celebrations, 1927.
  • Whittaker, D.M., “Wangaratta: Being the History of the Township
    that sprang up at Ovens Crossing and grew into a modern City”, Wangaratta
    City Council, 1963.

Box Hill

Box Hill, a residential area 14 km. east of Melbourne, is between Camberwell and Blackburn. About one-third of the western part of Box Hill was in Henry Elgar’s Special Survey of 8 square miles (1841). In 1875 it was part of the Nunawading shire, which stretched from Camberwell to Ringwood. When the shire was divided on 26 May, 1925, Box Hill was a compact municipality of 21.5 square kilometres, bordered by Warrigal Road, Koonung Koonung Creek, Middleborough Road and Highbury Road. It contained Box Hill North parts of Surrey Hills and Mont Albert, Box Hill South, Burwood, Bennetswood and Burwood’s original village of Ballyshannassy, where the Burwood cemetery is situated.

After 1850, settlers came to Box Hill as Crown lands were subdivided and sold. There was a three-chain wide road planned as the route to Gippsland from Melbourne. The road ultimately went as far as Healesville via Lilydale, but traffic along it encouraged the building of a hotel at Box Hill in 1853. Its owner named it the White Horse hotel, and the name was bestowed on the three-chain road. The hotel was on the corner of Whitehorse and Elgar Roads, the latter running along the eastern side of Elgar’s Special Survey.

Ballyshannassy, 4 km. south of Box Hill was the only official surveyed town in the area, but it was small. In 1861 a post office was opened at Box Hill, the first official use of the name. The postmaster proposed the name, derived from Box Hill in Surrey, England, near his birthplace.

Agriculture around Box Hill was in an early stage of development as fire-wood cutting gave way to orchards, vineyards and mixed farming which gave meagre returns. In 1871 Box Hill township’s population was 154. The extension of the railway form Camberwell to Lilydale in 1882 included a station at Box Hill but there were also stations at Canterbury and Surrey Hill, to the west. They attracted subdivisions and development ahead of Box Hill. Growth came, though, with a school opening in Box Hill in 1887 and the Nunawading shire deciding to meet in the Box Hill court house. Less obviously, two years before, an artists’ camp was formed about 2 km. south of Box Hill near the beginning of Gardiners Creek. The untidy bush was painted outdoors and Roberts, Streeton, McCubbin and Abrahams went on to their Heidelberg school of painting.


In 1895 a market was opened near Box Hill railway station, which improved Box Hill’s commercial importance. Box Hill was also the entry point for a tramline to Doncaster, which ran from 1889 to 1896. The 1890s also saw the opening of a gas works, several brickworks and a private girls’ high school. In 1904 The Australian Handbook described Box Hill as –

A site was bought by the Council from a brick works company in 1905, including a deep pit from which clay had been taken. It became Surrey Park and the hole the Surrey Dive.

Unlike suburbs closer to Melbourne, Box Hill lacked the web of tramlines which promoted residential development beyond reach of the railway line. In 1916-17 tramlines reached the western edge of what in a short time would be the Box Hill municipality at Burwood, Mont Albert, and Wattle Park. The years after the first world war saw Box Hill’s turn for residential growth. A girls’ technical school was built in 1924 and a boys’ high school in 1930. During the second world war a boys’ technical school was opened.

In 1933, in its eightieth year, the Whitehorse Hotel was demolished. It had been closed for thirteen years, when Box Hill, like Camberwell, had voted to go dry. Two years later Box Hill’s impressive municipal offices on Whitehorse Road were opened. At the end of the second world war Box Hill was suburbanised, but Box Hill South and North comparatively undeveloped. It was described in 1949 in The Australian Blue Book as –


Post war housing expansion included a Housing Commission estate in Box Hill South. A district hospital was opened in 1956. The shopping area enjoyed growth and prosperity which, ironically, by the end of the 1950s was putting strain on it: there was not enough space for parking. The development of Myer Eastland and Doncaster Shoppingtown in the late 1960s took trade away, and the shopping centre regained custom by undergrounding the railway line and station and building Box Hill Central on land which included the old market.

In 1954 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works designated Box Hill as one of five district centres for metropolitan Melbourne. Notwithstanding the private sector’s predilection for going around plans in search of cheaper land for development, the plan has succeeded somewhat in Box Hill. In addition to the shopping centre (Box Hill Central and Whitehorse Plaza), the Box Hill TAFE and several office buildings have strengthened its centrality in the region. Apart from commercial functions there are large reserves with ovals in three direction about a kilometre from Box Hill Central. Box Hill South lies between Canterbury Road and Burwood East, about two kilometres square. Its proximity to trams was better than Box Hill North’s, and its residential growth was substantially pre and early post war. The primary school was opened in 1927 and renamed Roberts McCubbin because of its proximity to the artists’ camp. The Box Hill golf club is nearby and a linear park continues along Gardiner’s Creek. There are church educational institutions – Kingswood College (Anglican and then Uniting) and the Christian Brothers’ Teachers’ College and St. Leo’s College (1952 and 1957).

Box Hill North, the largest of the three parts of the Box Hill district, is described separately.

Box Hill city was amalgamated with Nunawading city on 15 December, 1994, to form Whitehorse city renewing the boundaries that began with the Nunawading parish and subsequent shire.

In 1986 the median price of a house in Box Hill was 8.5% above the median for metropolitan Melbourne, and in 1996 it was 22% above the metropolitan median. During the 1990s there were two school closures – St. Leo’s and Box Hill primary, along with four in neighbouring Burwood.

The census populations of Box Hill municipality have been 15,332 (1933), 35,554 (1954), 54,635 (1971) and 45,139 (1991).

Further Reading:

Lemon, Andrew, “Box Hill”, City of Box Hill, 1978.


Windsor, a residential suburb south of Prahran, is 5 km. south-south-east of Melbourne. It is bounded by High Street, Punt Road, Wellington Street/Dandenong Road and (notionally) Williams Road on its east.

Windsor’s area is more elevated than Prahran’s and it was generally favoured for settlement. Known at first as Prahran South, it was connected by railway to Melbourne and Brighton in 1860 and by a loop line to St. Kilda the year before. (The latter ceased service in 1862, and is traceable today by the linear reserve which runs into Gladstone street.) The locality was settled with small farms and a scatter of houses and business premises. There was a Windsor Castle hotel, from which the area’s name may have originated, and the name of the railway station was changed form Chapel Street to Windsor in 1867.

Whereas the areas in the north and east of the Prahran municipality attracted merchants and villas, Windsor and the southern part of the municipality attracted residents of lesser means. The Prahran Mechanics’ Institute, in High Street, Prahran South, was opened in 1856, later becoming a technical college and College of Technology. (The trades emphasis in education was continued when a new Windsor technical school, separate from the college, opened in 1971.)

A combined Protestant churches primary school was opened in 1861 and a State primary school in 1877. Its name was changed from Prahran South to Windsor in 1891. In 1873 the Presentation Sisters began Presentation College, over the road from the primary school. It is now a secondary school.

Windsor is connected to the Chapel Street retailing spine. Trams were run down Chapel Street in 1888, and an extension added in 1891 to the St. Kilda route. Although the giant emporia of Chapel Street were further north, the Windsor section had a solid range of drapers, footwear sellers and homewares merchants. There were several garment factories in and behind Chapel Street. Windsor’s census population in 1911 was 3,593.

Local churches provided clubs and meeting facilities, and were a strong element in the local social fabric. A school of domestic economy was opened in 1928 next to the primary school, attended mostly by girls of middle class means who valued domestic skills in the marriage stakes, rather than aspiring domestic workers. Modernism in the form of a picture theatre came in 1936, opposite the railway station. Further change in the form of postwar mobility came with some shops deserting the Windsor part of Chapel Street, as fewer shoppers used train and tram services.

The Housing Commission built flats on the ground occupied by the old railway loop to St. Kilda, but not as a slum reclamation project as had happened in Prahran. A decade afterwards Windsor’s residences attracted renovators and persons of better than working-class means. The median house price in Windsor in 1987 and 1995 was 30% above the metropolitan median.

In 1990 the Windsor primary school was kept open by the merger of the Prahran school with it. The Windsor technical school was also kept open, by the Ardoch secondary college (St. Kilda) being merged with it. It has become a secondary college.


In the bottom left corner can be seen the original names of streets occupied by people featured in this website, such as – St Davids Street (now Uption Road), Albert Street, Peeel Street, Henry Street, Union Street, Andrew Street, Duke Street and Vine Street.

In the 1960s, the Victorian Government decided to renovate the area known as St Kilda Junction (west end of Wellington Street where it joins St Kilda Road, Punt Road and Nelson Street. St Kilda Junction was a giant roundabout with trams running through it and was the intersection of 8 streets and three metropolitan traffic routes3.

This resulted in the extension of Queens Way just to the north of Wellington Street, to Dandenong Road. This destroyed Nelson and Vine Streets completely, the south side of Albert Street up to St Davids Street (the even numbers) and changed the south end of St Davids Street removing many houses (low numbers).


Chapel Street 1889


St Kilda Junction ca1900

Further Reading:

  • Malone, Betty, “Old Windsor – The South-West Corner of Prahran, Prahran Historical and Arts Society”, 1989.
  • Wilde, Sally, “The History of Prahran, 1925-1990”, Melbourne University Press, 1993.

Garden City

Garden City is a residential area 5 km. south-west of Melbourne, and immediately west of Port Melbourne.

The land on which Garden City is laid out was known as Sandridge Flat, and subsequently as Fishermens Bend. When the Coode Canal was constructed in 1884-6, to both improve cargo ship access to the docks and to increase the stream velocity for upstream flood mitigation, the excavated silt was used for land reclamation. Much of the surrounding land was marshy river delta. (See Coode Island for further explanation and remarks on Fishermens Bend.)

The canal and the Yarra’s mouth needed dredging, and the silt was used for the filling of holes excavated for sand extraction at the site of the future Garden City.

In 1912 the Port Melbourne Council lobbied the State Government for housing sites to be allowed on reclaimed land, but the Harbor Trust asserted its claim over the land which was in Trust territory. Prevarication on the Government’s part continued until the State Savings Bank took up proposals by the Council and the Metropolitan Town Planning Commission and purchased 18 hectares of land in the area south and east of Williamstown Road and Graham Street (1926). The Bank’s estate consisted of houses which were two-storey, semi-detached, cement rendered and apparently inspired by English designs. They were the beginning of Garden City.

In 1936 the Housing Commission assumed the Bank’s home-construction role, and acquired 22 hectares further west along Williamstown Road. Its street layout is noticeably “garden city”. The Commission’s estate re-housed large families who had been in deprived circumstances. Relationships were unfortunately strained between the owners in the Bank’s estate (“Nobs Hill”), and the Commission’s tenants (“Little Baghdad”). The Commission’s last estate was row housing along Beacon and Barak Roads (1981).

The Bank’s estate provided for a small shopping centre in Graham Street. The Commission’s estate, whilst having five neighbourhood parks, was not so well provided for with other facilities. The community’s centre was the Ada Mary A’Beckett kindergarten, supported by the philanthropic Free Kindergarten Union (1942).

In 1979 the Port Melbourne council commissioned a conservation study for its municipality. The study concluded that Garden City provided a unique example of residential town planning, with a substantial part remaining intact.

Nestling below Garden City, however, is the Sandridge/Bayside redevelopment site, adjacent to the foreshore between Princes and Station Piers. It ushers in housing styles radically different from workers’ cottages, time-worn factories and English semi-detached dwellings.

Coode Island

Coode Island, an almost uninhabited industrial area, is 4 km. west of Melbourne. It was formed in 1886 when canal was cut through the Sandridge swamp to provide a straightened stream for the Yarra River. The boundaries were the canal on the south, the Maribyrnong River on the west and the Yarra meander on the north and east. Its area was 97 ha. It was named after Sir John Coode, an English harbour engineer who was engaged by the Melbourne Harbour Trust to select the optimum route for the canal as part of the Port of Melbourne.

Steam driven machinery digs the Coode Canal
Steam driven machinery digs the Coode Canal – the new course of the Yarra ~1880s
Continue reading “Coode Island”

Bundaberg Extract

BUNDABERG, a new port and township situated on the south bank of the river Burnett, about 10 miles from its mouth and about 30 miles north of Maryborough. It contains between 300 and 400 inhabitants, and posesses two banks, Commercial and Bank of New South Wales, a school of arts, a money-order and telegraph office, several stores, and half-a-dozen public-houses. The school of arts is used as a place of worship by the members of the Episcopal and Presbyterian denomination, but an Episcopal and Roman Catholic church are about being erected. It is the outlet of a considerable extent of country, and for the produce of the Mount Perry mines. Sugar is largely grown in the district, upwards of 300 acres of cane being under cultivation. Two sugar mills are at work. The cereals occupy about 755 acres. Coal has been found in the neighbourhood, and will most probably be found to pay for working. One saw-mill is kept working in the vicinity. Steamers call in from Brisbane once a fortnight, and also on the return trip. Stock returns for 872 are 783 horses, 18,600 cattle, 100 sheep, 359 pigs.