Jolimont is a residential precinct in East Melbourne, 1.5 km. from the G.P.O., Melbourne.

In 1839 Charles Joseph La Trobe arrived in Melbourne as the Superintendent of Port Phillip. He brought a transportable dwelling and was obliged to buy land on which to erect it. He was the successful (and only) bidder for five hectares, off the south side of Wellington Parade,set in the corner of the Government Paddock (later Yarra Park). The name Jolimont was reputedly given by La Trobe’s French-Swiss wife: joli mont – a pretty hill.

When La Trobe left Victoria in 1854 his cottage ceased to be Government House. In 1858 about one hectare of the La Trobe land was acquired by Sir James Palmer, the pioneer who had operated Palmers punt over the Yarra River at Hawthorn (c.1842), later rising to become Mayor of Melbourne and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. The remainder of Jolimont was subdivided, with Palmer Street, and Agnes and Charles Streets which were named after La Trobe’s children.

Immediately west of the Jolimont subdivision were the East Melbourne Cricket Ground (1860) and Gustav Techow’s National Gymnasium (1870). The Cricket Ground was also a home ground for track and field events and for the Essendon Football Club. The site of the Gymnasium and the Cricket Groundwere submerged by the Jolimont railway yards in 1921.

Jolimont developed into a quiet residential precinct, with Jolimont Square being the largest land holding and the remaining streets having smallish houses. In 1889, however, a warehouse was erected in Agnes Street, and ten years later it became the Bedggood Boot Factory. La Trobe’s cottage remainedin its grounds until recovered in 1959 and re-erected near the Botanic Gardens,South Yarra.. In 1887 a railway line was laid along the wide WellingtonParade reservation, and the Jolimont station was opened in 1901. JolimontSquare was acquired and occupied by the Adult Deaf Society in 1924.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground, Yarra Park, is about 200 metres from Jolimont.Car parking and traffic have caused acute congestion in Jolimont’s streets,and the installation of flood-lights around the Ground has increased thefrequency of events.

In the mid 1980s the railway yards were reduced and the land resumed for private sector houses and apartments. Resumption gradually extended westwards during the next decade, ultimately doubling the area of the original Jolimont.

The streets on the periphery of Jolimont have a mixture of residential and commercial buildings. There is no local shopping, and a post office (named Sinclair after the name of the curator of the Fitzroy gardens), has been closed.

Further Reading:

  • Burchett, Winston, East Melbourne, 1837-1988: People, Places, Problems,Craftsman Press, 1978.
  • Lovett, John M., No Longer by Gaslight: The First 100 years of the Adult Deaf Society of Victoria, Chap. 6, Adult Deaf Society of Victoria,1982.

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