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
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Hugh Glass and Flemington House


Hugh Glass (1817- 1871), speculator, squatter and merchant, was born at Porta Ferry, County Down, Ireland, he was the son of Thomas Glass, merchant, and his wife Rachael, nee Pollock. In 1840 he migrated to Victoria and began farming on the Merri Creek; by 1845 he had established himself as a station agent and merchant. In 1853 he married Lucinda (Lucy), youngest daughter of Contain Nash, a Victorian squatter and station holder. After his marriage Hugh Glass began dealing in livestock.

Continue reading “Hugh Glass and Flemington House”

Melbourne city

Scope and Boundaries:

Melbourne’s central city area has traditionally been defined as the “Golden Mile”, which is the checker-board survey by the government surveyor, Robert Hoddle, who in 1837 fixed a township of six blocks by four blocks. The boundaries were Spencer, La Trobe, Spring and Flinders Streets.

The “Golden Mile” sufficed until the postwar years for defining Melbourne’s commercial and retail heart. During the 1960s town planning surveys extended the northern boundary to Dudley Street, the Queen Victoria Market and Victoria Street. Shortly afterwards notions of a central business or activities district pushed the boundaries of the “central area” into East Melbourne, down St. Kilda Road, beyond Flinders Street and across the Yarra River to Southbank and beyond Spencer Street to Docklands. Postcode boundaries have not mirrored these expansions, and the Queen Victoria Market is in the West Melbourne postcode.

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West Melbourne

West Melbourne, an industrial, commercial and residential suburb, adjoins the north-west corner of Melbourne’s central business area. The Flagstaff Gardens and the Queen Victoria Market are included in West Melbourne’s postcode area.

West Melbourne is generally associated with North Melbourne, as both were surveyed and proposed for sale at the same time. The dividing line between them, however, is Victoria Street and its westerly prolongation to the Moonee Ponds Creek.

In 1842 the first institution of significance erected in the West Melbourne area was a cattle yard at the corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets (now the Queen Victoria Market). In 1851 a Benevolent Asylum was built between Abbotsford and Curzon Streets, straddling Victoria Street and thus partly in West Melbourne. The opening of the asylum coincided with the Melbourne Town Council’s overtures for a new township to accommodate the gold-rush population influx. A site for the township was found by severance from an open-space reserve of 1,035 ha. that had been approved by the Governor of New South Wales in 1845. The result was a smaller reserve – now Royal Park – and a township called Parkside which now comprises North and West Melbourne. Town allotments were put up for sale in September, 1852.

The western extremity of West Melbourne’s subdivided area was Adderely Street. Beyond there the land was low-lying, with a lagoon about one kilometre across, into which flowed the Moonee Ponds watercourse and a stream from Parkville which runs through Ievers Reserve in that suburb. The lagoon dried out in Summer, but during wet spells the vista was park-like.

The lagoon and the low-lying land blocked easy access to Footscray and Williamstown, obliging early travellers to ford the Maribyrnong River at Avondale Heights, before punts and bridges were provided. The Dynon or Swamp Road required frequent maintenance for westwards movement. The swamp became a foetid receptacle for waste waters from Flemington, North Melbourne and Parkville, and in 1879 it was drained and filled. The North Melbourne railway yards occupy its northern area. In the 1930s depression its southern area, near the outfall of the Moonee Ponds Creek, was the notorious Dudley Flats, where impoverished people scrounged building material from the land-fill tip to build shelters and huts.

Being on the edge of a booming Melbourne, West Melbourne was quickly inhabited. Presbyterian and Catholic church services began in the early 1850s, and in 1854 the first church was built on the Catholic reserve in Victoria Street. By the end of the 1860s there were also Primitive Methodist, Methodist New Connection, Anglican and Baptist churches. The Baptist church (1866) at Hawke and King Streets (now a small grassed reserve), was for many years one of the most important Baptist congregations in Melbourne. A school was opened in King Street in 1853. It was replaced by a State School in 1875 at the corner of King and Roden Streets. The building is on the Victorian Heritage Register, although the school closed in 1992.

The dominant building in West Melbourne, however, came to be a church, St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, on the brow of a hill in Victoria Street. Built of Barrabool sandstone to a French Gothic design it is a testament to the money-raising capacity of the large Catholic congregation. Built between 1891 and 1900 it came after the presbytery and before the adjoining St. Mary’s co-educational regional school.

The railway yards were completed by the end of the 1880s, providing a significant source of local employment. Flour mills and wool stores were opened, served by railway sidings. The residential component of West Melbourne, however, was mostly displaced by expanding industry on the edge of the central city area, although several row houses and individual dwellings were identified in a conservation study in 1983 as being of significance.

In 1913 an Anglican church was erected in King Street, West Melbourne, opposite the Flagstaff Gardens. It was Melbourne’s first Anglican church, St. James’ Old Cathedral (1842), transferred from the corner of Williams and Little Collins Street. The Flagstaff Gardens are in the West Melbourne postcode area, and are an elevated point which has served as Melbourne’s first cemetery, an observatory, as a telegraph station and a quarry. In 1873 it was reserved as a public garden. In addition to monuments for the proclamation of separation from New South Wales in 1850 and for the old pioneers’ cemetery, the gardens have a bowling club and tennis courts which are increasingly used by workers from city high-rise offices.

Another well-known building in West Melbourne is Festival Hall. It was built by John Wren in 1915 and became metropolitan Melbourne’s main venue for boxing and wrestling. Rebuilt in 1956 after being burnt down the year before, it was the Olympic Games venue for gymnastics and wrestling. In the 1950s and 1960s it became an entertainment centre, with famous appearances including Bill Haley, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. By the 1990s it had been overtaken by more spectacular venues, but the Wren family remained in ownership.

Although the State primary school closed in 1992 the Catholic school near the Star of the Sea church was enlarged to become the Simmonds Catholic Boys’ college. It constitutes one of four Catholic school campuses in North and West Melbourne.

The Queen Victoria Market west of Queen Street is in West Melbourne, consisting of open sheds, a few shops, a car park and former Market offices. The sheds sell mainly textiles, clothing, footwear, fruit and vegetables. The Market is discussed under Melbourne.

In 1987 the median house price in West Melbourne was 89% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne and in 1996 it was 120% of the metropolitan median.

Further Reading:

  • Butler, Graeme, “North and West Melbourne Conservation Study”, Melbourne City Council, 1983.
  • Mattingley, Albert, “The Early History of North Melbourne, The Victorian Historical Magazine, December, 1916, and March, 1917”, The Historical Society of Victoria.

Avondale Heights

The actual name of Avondale Heights was derived from the old name of area between Clarendon Street, Military Road and Brown Street, which was for many years known as Avondale Estate.
The postal area of what is now known as Avondale Heights was previously Maribyrnong West. Some years ago the Council took action to re-name the area. It was agreed that the name of the area now known as Avondale Heights should be called Avondale after the fore-mentioned subdivisional estate.
However, the postal authorities drew attention to the fact that there was a similar town in Queensland by the same name as “Avondale” and in consequence of this, “Heights” was added to the original proposal by Council.

During the 1930’s, when Avondale Heights was known as West Maribyrnong, the district was subdivided into small dairy and cattle farms, with some poultry farming. Some of the families who lived in the area at that time were – Ahern, Duffy, Pearson,, Creegan , Fitzpatrick, Engblom, Johnston, McKenna, Roberts, Grech, Lauricella and Hicks.
Three separate market gardens owned by the Aherns, were rented originally by Chinese farmers.

The area, a plateau above the Maribyrnong River has a superb view of the distant city.
In the 1960’s the area was still dotted with small farms, with a small row of shops, it has grown as a suburb since then.
There is only one main road – Military Road which runs from Canning Street and Maribyrnong Road, then becomes Milleara Road; which has a row of shops about 60 at the Canning Street end and 30 at the other end.

Geological History of the Area

The Maribyrnong River was originally called ‘Salt Water River’, because sea water from the Hobson’s Bay penetrated the river for a considerable distance. The skeletons of a shark and dolphin were found under Maribyrnong Park, while oysters and other marine shells have been found where Steele Creek enters the Maribyrnong. Once the tides of Hobson’s Bay influenced the Maribyrnong as far as Braybrook and Avondale Heights.

Volcanic rocks have determined much of the physical character of the area. Molten lava flowed from active vents and cooled to form sheets of basalt, or bluestone. the flat plains of the Western Suburbs, owe their flatness to these lava flows.

Since the plains of bluestone were formed, the Maribyrnong River has cut through the plain, and it is because this rock was so hard and resistant that the river has such steep banks.

Bluestone from Fowler’s Quarry at Niddrie is about four and a half million years old. This means that rock in the Keilor Plains area belongs to the geologic period called Pliocene.

Aboriginal History

Aboriginal people that lived in the area from before white settlement were the members of the local clans, the Wurundjeri and the Marin-Balluk.

Early Explorations

On their journey of exploration from Sydney to Victoria, Hume and Hovell made their way towards the Keilor Plains, passing over the site where Keilor is today, until they reached the sea near Geelong. They were the first white men to travel over the great plain which sweeps up from Port Phillip to Sunbury.

The Keilor Plains

The Keilor Plains are composed of bluestone rock, which flowed down as molten lava from the Sunbury area towards Port Phillip Bay. the bluestone rock north of the Maribyrnong River ( where Avondale Heights is today) is some of the oldest volcanic rock in Melbourne.

Solomon’s Ford

Solomon’s Ford is at the west end of Canning Street. In 1803, an expedition led by Charles Grimes, the New South Wales Surveyor General, sailed up the Yarra and sent a party in a rowing boat up the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River. The boat got as far as Solomon’s Ford and could not go any further. Grimes was the first recorded white man to explore the area. The ford was named after Michael Solomon who had a sheep station there. He was one of the first settlers in Victoria.
The first record of European farming interests in the area was in 1835, when Edmund Davis Fergusson and Michael Solomon had a pastoral holding in the Avondale Sunshine area.

Solomon’s ford was the lowest crossing point on the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River, and was for many years the only way from Melbourne to Geelong and westward.

Canning St Bridge

During World War 1 you had to know a password to cross over the Cordite Bridge, which is now known as the Canning St Bridge. A curfew on the river was imposed at the beginning of World War 2 from 6pm to 6am. A boom was drawn across the water to stop any access.

First Evidence of Humans in the Area

On the 10th October 1940, Mr. James White dug up an ancient human skull, (now known as the Keilor Cranium) on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. This skull has been found to be more than 8,000 years and less than 15,800 years old.

Evidence has been found along the Maribyrnong River that proves that people lived in the area 18,000 years ago.

Animal bones were excavated and sent to the museum where work was done to determine which animals they belonged to, thus it has been possible to learn about part of the fauna of the Maribyrnong River valley during the latter part of the Ice age. Bones of Diprotodon or two-toothed marsupial as big as a Thylacoleo (Marsupial lion), and a Tasmanian Devil larger than the species living now. Kangaroos and wombats also lived in the Maribyrnong Valley at the same time, which was 31,000 years ago according to the radio-carbon analysis on charcoal from the same matrix as their bones.


Jennison, S, 1997, Keilor’s Heritage, Keilor Historical Society, Keilor,Vic; pp72-74

Other information from Sam Merrifield Library Local History Collection

Flemington Racecourse History


Flemington Racecourse is one of the world’s great racecourses, and is home to the Melbourne Cup. It is one of Melbourne’s four racecourses, the others being Caulfield, Sandown, and, nearby, Moonee Valley. Flemington Racecourse is bounded by Epsom Rd, Smithfield Rd and the Maribyrnong River. Racecourse Rd starts/ends at the racecourse. Today Flemington is a spacious pear-shaped course with sweeping turns and long straight. There is also an integrated 1200-metre straight course, sometimes referred to as the “Straight Six” (because of the old six-furlong measure).

The first “official” race meeting in Melbourne took place in 1838 at Batman Hill (where Spencer Street railway station now stands). From March 1840, racing was moved out of the city to “Saltwater Flat” on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, with meetings held over three days.

The racecourse was set up on land owned by Robert Fleming and the property was used at the time for farming cattle and sheep and running a butchery. According to sources, the property became known as Fleming Town, and this soon attached to the racecourse on it. Today, the Flemington Racecourse site is Crown (state) land, and encompasses 127 hectares (320 acres).


The first racing club was the Port Phillip Turf Club, but the course was then leased to the Victoria Turf Club in 1848. In the next decade the course was well placed to share in the great expansion of population and wealth in Melbourne and Victoria due to the 1850s gold rush. One can imagine a lot of money earned from digging or mining being won and lost at the course a short time later. The first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861, establishing a tradition that would later see it become Australia’s most famous horse race – “the race that stops a nation”. Winners have included Archer (the first winner in 1861), Carbine (1890, to this day the carrier of the greatest handicap weight of 10.5 stone), Phar Lap (1930), Rain Lover (1968 and 69), and Think Big (1974 and 75). That first Melbourne Cup attracted about 4,000 people, but within 20 years there 100,000 people flocked to see the race, a figure that is regularly beaten today. Today the Melbourne Cup is promoted as part of the Spring Racing Festival which has many of its features races at Flemington. Meanwhile, in 1864, the Victoria Turf Club merged with the Victoria Jockey Club to form the Victoria Racing Club. With the passing of the Victoria Racing Club Act in 1871 the VRC got state approval to legally control Flemington Racecourse.

In the more than 150 years of its existence, Flemington has been transformed from rough paddocks to a world-class facility.The first Secretary of the Victoria Racing Club, R.C. Bagot, for whom the New Years Day Bagot Handicap is named, introduced training facilities and upgraded both public and administration facilities. The Old Members Grandstand was built in 1925, and in 1977, the Hill Stand was completed on the site of the old grandstand and cost $8.5 million. The four-tiered stand is situated opposite the winning post and consequently is the best position to view a race.

A well known part of Flemington was the “Birdcage”, so named in less politically correct times because it became the area where gentlemen paraded their “birds” (lady friends). It was sectioned off from the rest of the course and a fee had to be paid to access it. This lasted until the late 1960s. Today the Birdcage consists of 130 stalls and remains in the same original layout but houses the competing horses. Each horse is allocated a stall by the VRC the day prior to the racemeeting. Before a race, horses are paraded in the Mounting Yard, off limits to all except jockeys, trainers and some officials.

Just over the last five or six years, over $26 million worth of improvements have been made to the racecourse and environs. This does not take into consideration the new Grandstand opened in 2000 and costing $45 million.



Kensigton is a residential and decreasingly industrial suburb 3 km. north-west of Melbourne. It is commonly associated with Flemington, once being in the Flemington and Kensington borough (1882-1906). Its northern boundary is Racecourse Road, the western boundary is Smithfield Road and the Maribyrnong River, the southern boundary is Dynon Road and the eastern boundary is the Moonee Ponds Creek. Kensington contained the Newmarket saleyards and abattoirs, and in its south there are the Dynon Road railway yards and a small area known as Browns Hill east of the railway yards.

Kensington has a substantial low-lying alluvial area on which the abattoirs was built. To the east was Seagull Swamp, now J.J. Holland Park. North of the low-lying area is a basaltic layer, defined by an escarpment at the back of the abattoirs and skirting the swamp to Browns Hill at Lloyd and Radcliffe Streets. Healy’s Point Hotel below Browns Hill has frequently had its cellar filled with flood water.

On 30 August, 1856, a Crown grant was made to the Melbourne City Council for cattle saleyards on the south side of Racecourse Road, Newmarket, and the abattoirs adjoining the saleyard to the south-west. Its most south-westerly boundary conveniently adjoined the Maribyrnong River for the discharge of liquid waste. The buildings were primitive and unhygenic and were replaced by better facilities between 1898 and 1908. Nearby, on the river bank, there were factories for boiling-down, fellmongery, bone manure and glue.

The cattle saleyards opened in 1859, the year before a railway line from North Melbourne to Essendon began operation, with stations at Kensington and Newmarket. Although sheep and cattle were driven to the stockyard on the hoof (and used residential streets as stock routes until the 1950s), the Newmarket railway siding also became active during night hours for holding and delivering stock.

In the mid 1870s Kensington included a small area named Balmoral. Future subdivisions yielded street names with a similar regal flavour, somewhat ironical given the proximity of the proletarian slaughter yards. In addition to the riverside industries there were three tanners, a candlemaker and a chapel with a school. By then moves were made for a State primary school, and the site in McCracken Street was found and the school opened in 1881. Commercial and residential development clustered around Racecourse Road and down beside the railway line. McConnell Street, McCracken Street and Rankins Road had several shops, but Macaulay Road had only Hardimans Hotel and three shops. The school precinct had Wesleyan and Anglican churches, and later gained the borough hall.

Flemington and Kensington borough was formed by severance from Essendon and Flemington borough on 17 March, 1882. The borough hall was opened in Bellair Street in 1902, four years before the borough was amalgamated with Melbourne City Council. The Council had run the saleyards and abattoirs for several years.

Between 1881 and 1890 the State school’s enrollment increased from 230 to 700 pupils, and to over 1,000 before the turn of the century. Overcrowding, classes in shelter sheds or pavilions with canvas enclosures, annexes in church halls and the town hall persisted until the 1920s. The peak enrolment was 1,241 in 1913. It had some notable ex-pupils, including Dr. E. Morris Miller and Hal Porter, who lived in a cottage in Bellair Street with smaller dimensions than described in his “Watcher On The Cast Iron Balcony”.

The abattoirs and saleyards dominated Kensington’s life. Newmarket saleyards became a national barometer for stock prices, growing in throughput for export sales after 1904. The peak throughput for sheep and lambs was 6.45 million head in 1944, and the daily record was nearly 146,000 head in 1953.

The swamp areas were virtually untouched until the Army established an ordnance depot at the back of the abattoirs in 1941. Twenty years later the Housing Commission began filling the margin of the Seagull Swamp with high-rise flats at Altona Street. By then upstream flood mitigation works and pumping stations had lessened the risk of inundation. Known as the Macaulay pumping stations, they are near the Macaulay railway station.

Marauding stock in old Kensington were effectively stopped when a stock bridge from the Newmarket railway siding was built in 1964. Within twenty years, however, there was general agreement that time was up for the saleyards and abattoirs, and the State Government began planning the Lynch’s Bridge project, replacing the stock facilities with housing and open space. (Lynch’s Bridge marked an early crossing place over the Maribyrnong River, joining Kensington to Ballarat road, Footscray.) The project extended to Footscray where the Angliss Meatworks site had similar medium-density housing put on it.

Kensington’s Lynch’s Bridge development marked the first time that open space was sensibly provided, apart from Holland Park. The Macaulay shopping area had been a struggling precinct for generations, and a Council report in 1987 predicted possible further decline from loss of jobs at the saleyards and abattoirs along with the general decline in manufacturing. Medium-density housing and gentrification of the cottages seem to have proved to be its salvation, although not without much-troubled traffic mitigation works to get heavy trucks out of Macaulay Road.

The Holy Rosary Catholic church and school continue to be notable landmarks in Kensington. The dominant red-brick church looking down Macaulay Road was disposed of by the Anglican Church to the Coptic Orthodox Church. It forms part of an interesting precinct consisting of the State school, a former Methodist church and Sunday School hall and an old Anglican parish hall. Kensington Community High School (1975) has found a site in the Lynch’s Bridge housing area.

In 1987 the median house price in Kensington was 70% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne, and in 1996 it was 117% of the metropolitan median.

Kensington’s census population in 1911 was 7,341 persons. Census figures for Flemington and Kensington have been 1,291 (1861), 10,946 (1901) and 12,860 (1991). (The last figure was calculated by Moonee Valley City council, which had Flemington and Kensington within its boundaries following the re-absorption of the district by Essendon city on 1 November, 1993).

FURTHER READING: Breen, Marcus, People, Cows and Cars: The Changing Face of Flemington, Melbourne City Council, 1989. Vincent, Keith, On the Fall of the Hammer: A personal history of the Newmarket Saleyards, State Library of Victoria, 1992.


Flemington is an inner residential suburb 4 km north-west of Melbourne, situated between North Melbourne and Ascot Vale. Its eastern boundary is the Moonee Ponds Creek, with alluvial flats that were flood-prone until recent tines, rising to the north-west towards Ascot Vale. To the south-west is the Flemington Racecourse, also situated on low alluvial flats, next to the Maribyrnong River.

Flemington’s name has either of two possible origins. The more likely is from James Watson who early in 1839 came to Port Phillip as a pastoral agent for English and Scottish investors, as well as investing for himself. He purchased land in Flemington and Heidelberg. His wife was Elisabeth Rose, whose father was manager of the Flemington estate in Scotland. (Watson also named his Heidelberg land Rose-Anna, inspired by his wife’s name, and the area later became the suburb of Rosanna.) The other possible origin for the name is thought to be Robert Fleming, who established a butchery on the site later taken by the racecourse. A butchery beside the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River would have been in keeping with the river’s later use for noxious outfalls.

Flemington racecourse was first used for horse racing in March, 1840. In 1848 the Port Phillip Racing Club took a lease of the racecourse site. The first Government land sales were held in December, 1840.

Flemington is traversed by Mt Alexander Road, the route to the Bendigo gold diggings. In 1851 the Flemington bridge over the Moonee Ponds Creek was built, improving the connection to the gold diggings’ road out of Melbourne. The Flemington Hotel had been there since about 1848. In 1855 the pre-eminent merchant and speculator, Hugh Glass, acquired Watson’s property and built Flemington House, in the vicinity of Mt Alexander Road and Mooltan Street.

In 1859 the western part of Flemington was taken for a new stockyards, to relieve the congested facility at Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. Two years later abattoirs were opened near the stockyard. The move coincided with the opening of the railway line from North Melbourne to Essendon, which ran near the stockyard at Newmarket, Flemington’s commercial centre.

A primary school was opened in 1858 in Mt Alexander Road, next to a Wesleyan church, both on land given by Glass. Down at the bridge several industries were established: a bone mill, soap and candle works, and more hotels were opened along Mt Alexander Road and around the stockyards.

On 25 January, 1862, Flemington was incorporated in the Borough of Essendon, an association which lasted until 17 March, 1882, when the separate Flemington and Kensington borough was created.

In 1876 Flemington’s third large industry was opened (after the stockyards and the abattoirs) on low-lying land: Debney’s tannery, a source of local employment, gave its name to lower-lying land next to it, Debney’s Paddock, later to become a major postwar high-rise housing site.

When Flemington and Kensington borough was created in 1882 it met in a hall at 323 Racecourse Road Newmarket, by then an active area with three hotels but only a few shops. By the turn of the century several churches were opened, friendly societies were formed and the hotels continued active trading. Newmarket was “racehorses, drovers and dogs.”

In 1906 tramlines were opened along Mt Alexander Road and Racecourse Road (Newmarket), a year after the borough was united with Melbourne city. (The Melbourne council had taken over the stockyards in 1898.) The borough’s town hall in Bellair Street, just off Newmarket, had an independent life of only four years, but it continued to be a social centre for years to come, housing a free library and providing meeting rooms.

In 1910 the Glass property was sold, having been vacant for some tine. (When Glass died in 1871 his widow had remained on the property.) The owner, John Madden bred horses for export to India, and he renamed the house Travancore, after the Indian state. In 1924 the property was subdivided, creating the Travancore Estate (with Indian street names), and space for the new Flemington primary school. Travancore House (demolished 1947) became a special school, the land down near Debney’s tannery became a land-fill tip for thirty years, providing a breeding place for rats and venue for tip-scratching during the depression years. Occasional floods from the Moonee Ponds Creek still carried in frogs to nearby houses.

The land-fill area was partly taken in 1957 for the Debneys Park high-rise flats which were erected within ten years, adding over 4,000 residents to Flemington. A primary school was opened in 1975 (relieving the Flemington Primary School), and a high school opened in 1965. A girls’ high school opened in 1966, replacing the Domestic Arts School which occupied the original school site in Mt Alexander Road (1858), and subsequently became the Debney Park secondary college.

By the 1950s Flemington received influxes of European migrants, the largest group being Italian. St. Brendan’s church and school, always a landmark, was well attended. The smaller St. Stephen’s Presbyterian church, with its attractive spire in the post office precinct, at Newmarket, was burnt down in 1970.

As the postwar migrant families moved out of the Flemington cottages they were bought by people wanting inner-city living, but at prices which became less affordable as demand strengthened. Travancore, with pre-war art nouveau flats and larger Californian bungalows, had always commanded better prices, and property values moved accordingly. Whereas in 1986 the median house price in Flemington was 87% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne, in 1996 it was 118%.

Flemington has open space at its extremities, along the Moonee Ponds Creek and in Debneys Park, and in a corner near the racecourse. There is local shopping in Newmarket, and the most convenient regional centre is at Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds. Flemington remains best known for the racecourse. In years past optimists owned or had a stake in horses hopefully destined for a Melbourne Cup win. The blend of blowflies and air borne manure on a day with a hot northerly seldom disturbs Flemington in the 1990s. The drovers and dogs went when the last muster was held at the stockyard in 1985.

Flemington and Kensington had a census population of 1,291 in 1861. Estimated populations were 1,811 (1883), 4,825 (1886) and 9,069 (1890). Flemington had a census population of 6,109 in 1911.


  • Breen, Marcus, People, Cows and Cars: The Changing Face of Flemington, Melbourne City Council, 1989.
  • Butler, Graeme, Flemington and Kensington Conservation Study, Melbourne City Council, 1985.