Moreland, 7 km. north of Melbourne, is a residential area which is located either side of the boundary between the former municipalities of Brunswick and Coburg. It is also the name of a new city formed on 22 June, 1994, by the amalgamation of Brunswick city and most of Coburg city.

Moreland was named after the land purchased in 1839, from Robert Hoddle’s survey, by Farquhar McCrae, magistrate and speculator. McCrae (the brother-in-law of Georgiana McCrae), named his property Moreland after the place of birth of his father in Jamaica. McCrae built his La Rose home on the elevated area west of Moreland (Coonans Hill), in 1842, at 22 Le Cateau Street. It is on the Victorian and National Estate Registers.

After the railway line to Coburg was opened in 1884, residential subdivisions were released in the vicinity of the Moreland railway station. Prior to then the area had been farms, with some notable houses such as Glencairn (1861, 6 Craigrossie Avenue, also on both Registers). A primary school was opened in 1887, next to the Wesleyan church opened in the previous year. A prestigious subdivision, Moreland Park, was released in 1882, resulting in some notable homes in The Grove and nearby streets. The remainder of Moreland, however, was lightly developed, with some factories along Moreland Road.

In the 1920s the electrification of the tram along Sydney Road and the extension of another northwards line between there and Coonans Hill provided additional incentive for residential growth. The Moreland Knitting Mill opened in 1920.

The Catholic church has been a strong participant in the Moreland community, building St. Francis Church (1938), Sacred Heart Hospital (1939) and two primary schools. A combined church and school building had been erected in 1927.

In the 1940s Moreland West was the name given to the Coonans Hill area, now Pascoe Vale South, which became the location of another Catholic church and school. Moreland central school was opened in 1947, becoming a high school in 1953.

Moreland city was formed on 22 June, 1994, by the amalgamation of Brunswick city and most of Coburg city. Its estimated population for 1994 was 136,550. Italian-born residents were 11.2% of its population in 1991 and Greek-born residents 4.2%. Residents in the workforce who were tradespeople or engaged in manufacturing were a few percentage points above the metropolitan average.

Further Reading:

  • Broome, Richard, Coburg Between Two Creeks, Lothian Publishing Company Pty. Ltd., 1987.
  • Keany, Leonie, St. Fidelis’ Moreland: The First Fifty Years, The Parish of Moreland, 1977.

Brunswick East

Brunswick East is an inner-urban suburb 6 km north of Melbourne. It lies between Lygon Street and the Merri Creek, and adjoins Carlton North and Fitzroy North at its southern border.

Brunswick East is within 900 metres of Sydney Road which formed the spine of Brunswick when it was first settled. An early industry in Brunswick East was bluestone quarrying, and there were numerous farms. In 1882 land subdivision centered on Evans Street was released for residential purposes.

The swampiness of some of the land was modified by drainage works, and a primary school near Lygon Street (named Brunswick South), was opened in 1886. Another subdivisional sale at the northern end of Lygon Street occurred in 1887, and another school opened in 1888, and the East Brunswick Omnibus Company began its horse bus service along Lygon Street the next year.

Lygon Street became a successful shopping strip, wider than Sydney road, and retaining its period character one-hundred years later.

An old stone quarry was filled in and became Fleming Park, the home of the East Brunswick cricket and football clubs (1919). In 1916 the tram along Lygon Street was electrified, putting the site of Brunswick’s first textile factory, Prestige Hosiery (1922), within easier reach of its workforce. A returned servicemen’s housing area was begun in 1923, identifiable by the Maori Street names, probably in acknowledgment of the Anzac War tradition.

There are eight neighbourhood parks and reserves in Brunswick East, with another being formed over the former Brunswick tip. Next to the Merri Creek is the Brunswick Velodrome, and in the 1980s the Council began its support of CERES, a site for low-energy demonstrations and sustainable ecology, also near the creek.

Another tram service, along Nicholson Street, was opened in 1956.

Brunswick East has a primary school (1893), and the Brunswick East Secondary College, which closed in 1992, was actually in Brunswick.


Coburg, a residential suburb 8 km. north of Melbourne, was also a municipality from 1874 to 1994. The municipality was bordered on the south by Brunswick city and on the west and east by the Moonee Ponds and the Merri Creek valleys. Much of the land is overlain with basaltic lava flows.

In 1837 the government surveyor, Robert Hoddle, surveyed the Coburg area between the two creeks, subdividing it into allotments of between 53 ha. and 287 ha. A village reserve was marked out where the former Pentridge Gaol and Coburg cemetery are now situated. Among the first purchasers were John Pascoe Fawkner (a Melbourne “founder”), Faquhar McCrae (magistrate and speculator) and Arundel Wrighte (squatter and speculator). Fawkner had two lots, totalling 517 ha. A road to Sydney was marked out along the western side of the village reserve.

Some allotments near the Sydney Road were subdivided as small farms, and the village reserve was named Pentridge in 1840, probably after Pentridge, Dorset. A Sydney Road Trust was formed in 1840, principally involving McCrae and Fawkner who were antagonistic to each other. McCrae built La Rose (now Wentworth House, at 22 Le Cateau Street), in 1843. In addition to the Pentridge village there were villages called Bolingbroke to the west and Newlands to the north.

In 1850 the Port Phillip authorities chose Pentridge as a site for a penitentiary, sufficiently remote form Melbourne and on a road with nearby road-making materials to keep the felons employed. By then churches had been built by the Catholics (possibly as early 1844), the Wesleyans (1849, preserved at the corner of Sydney Road and Bell Street and on the Register of the National Estate) and the Anglicans (1849, next to the Wesleyans, and on the Victorian Heritage Register). Pentridge’s first school opened in 1850 in the Anglican church and others followed in 1853 (National School), and 1854 (Wesleyan). The National School became Coburg primary school.

In 1859 the Pentridge District Road Board was formed, changing its name to Coburg on 21 January, 1869. The change came from residents wanting to dissociate their place name from the gaol, and Coburg was chosen because of the Royal visit by Prince Alfred, Duke of Saxe Coburg. The Sydney Road attracted numerous hotels and commercial premises, and two thirds of Coburg’s rateable properties were under 4 ha. in 1865. Friendly societies were formed: Manchester Unity (1863), Druids (1867), Rechabites (1868) and a St. Patrick’s Society (1870). By 1870 there were 1,300 people in Pentridge village and surrounds and 645 in the gaol (including warders and their families).

Coburg was proclaimed a shire on 24 December, 1874. The most populous trade or profession was warder (80), followed by 60 farmers or market gardeners, 54 quarrymen and 28 retailers. Market gardens were near the Merri Creek and most farmers grew hay for Melbourne’s increasing numbers of horses. In 1884 the railway line from Melbourne to Coburg was opened, the station being close to the village. A tram service to Moreland, south of Coburg village, began in 1887. The transport links provoked a boom in residential land subdivisions, predominantly in the south of the shire. Residents, however, found work on farms or in neighboring Brunswick’s factories, and Coburg was described as a pretty suburb with charming valleys.

In January, 1905, Coburg was proclaimed a borough, in evidence of the four-fold growth in its population since 1880. In 1914 the Brunswick and Coburg Tramways Trust was created, replacing the antiquated horse-tram service. Electric trams ran along Sydney Road to Coburg North by 1916. Sporting and swimming facilities were provided in that decade along with the laying out of some parklands, but a public library was not. The Coburg lake and parkland became a popular recreational area until the 1930s.

Coburg had experienced intermittent infectious outbreaks and the influenza outbreak after the first world war provoked Coburg into opening Victoria’s first Truby King health centre. By the 1920s Coburg’s developed area extended about one kilometre either side of Sydney Road, but the War Service Commission encouraged servicemen to settle and build on Coburg’s relatively cheap land. Local industries grew: the Lincoln Mills (garments), Invicta Manufacturing, Dawn Vices, bottle, plaster and timber-milling factories provided local employment. The Coburg electorate returned Labor candidates to the State and Federal Parliaments. New housing westwards was followed by the Coburg West primary school (1917) and eastwards with another school in 1926. Coburg was proclaimed a city on 1 April, 1922.

Gaffney Street became the address of many factories, maintaining employment through to the postwar years. Textiles and garments were the main outputs, but paint, chemicals and engineering goods were significant. Coburg technical school was opened in 1954 five years after the College of Textiles. Sydney Road’s shops became a service retailing area as well as one for comparison shopping. Neither east nor west between the boundary creek valleys is there any other shopping centre apart from a medium-size one at Pascoe Vale South. The trams and motor traffic along Sydney Road make the strip very busy. Its viability has been maintained by rear-of-shop parking areas and the building of supermarkets.

Between 1947 and 1981 the proportions of Coburg municipality’s residents who were born overseas increased from 9 to 34%. Over one-third of them were Italian, and one-eighth were Greek. There are several Catholic schools and churches in the municipality. Later immigrants from Middle Eastern countries have opened two Islamic colleges and a mosque in Coburg.

Coburg has been affected by tariff reductions for garments and textiles. The Lincoln Mills closed in 1980 (although later used by smaller firms) and the Government Clothing Factory was sold in 1981.

The area around Pentridge has changed. A teachers’ college was opened in 1959, later becoming a campus of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a combined primary/secondary school after Coburg and Newlands high schools were closed. On 1 May, 1997, the Pentridge Gaol was closed.

Coburg municipality contained Pascoe Vale, Pascoe Vale South, Coburg North and Moreland. Most of it was united with Brunswick city to form Moreland city on 22 June, 1994.

The median house price in Coburg in 1987 was 82% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne, and in 1996 it was 93%. In 1997 the median price increased sharply as home buyers chose Coburg as an affordable location next after the inner suburb of Brunswick which had house prices beyond their reach. In 1996 the median personal income of persons 15 years or more was $239 a week, compared with a metropolitan median of $331 a week.

Coburg township’s census populations have been 1,033 (1861), 2,370 (1881), 6,772 (1901) and 9,454 (19110. The municipality’s census populations have been 5,272 (1891), 9,505 (1911), 33,118 (1933), 70,771 (1961) and 53,100 (1991).

Further Reading:

  • Broome, Richard, “Coburg Between Two Creeks”, Lothian Publishing Company Pty. Ltd., 1987.