Port Melbourne

Port Melbourne, a residential and industrial suburb, is 4 km. south-west of Melbourne. It is bounded on its north and west by the Yarra River, on the south by Hobsons Bay and on the east Bay South Melbourne. The residential part adjoins South Melbourne.

In 1839, four years after the first permanent settlement of Melbourne, Wilbraham Liardet settled at Port Melbourne, building a hotel and jetty on Hobsons Bay and operating a mail service to Melbourne. The area became known as Liardet’s Beach, although the official district name was Sandridge. Land sales were delayed until 1850. The gold rush immigration brought passengers and freight which made use of a government pier on Hobsons Bay, served by Australia’s first railway line from Melbourne to Hobsons Bay.

The first allotments surveyed in Sandridge were between Stokes Street and a linear lagoon on the east, now Esplanade East. (The lagoon was probably an ancient course of the Yarra River.) With the railway, the township was enlarged, westwards to the railway line and northwards to Raglan Street.

A Wesleyan church was opened in 1853, and a Wesleyan school in the following year. By 1860 there were also Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian churches, a Catholic school and a National school (1857). On 13 July, 1860, the Sandridge borough was created by severance from Melbourne City Council, its boundaries being the railway line and the lagoon, but further north to Bourndary Street. In addition to the Railway Pier there were the Sandridge Pier and the Town Pier at the end of Bay Street. The Swallow and Ariell Steam Biscuit manufactory was opened in Rouse Street in 1854, beginning with ships biscuits and expanding to become a major industry by 1880. Thomas Swallow was the Council’s second mayor and was influential in several of its community activities.

The borough remained confined between the railway line and the lagoon because of a planned canal between the Yarra River and the bay and the increasingly noxious condition of the lagoon, contributed to by the run-off from Emerald Hill, South Melbourne. Ideas to make the lagoon a dock did not materialsie, and it remained a harbour for small craft.

The coast west of the railway Pier was Sandridge Beach or Fishermens Bend, which was added to the borough in 1863. Its sand was extracted for Melbourne’s building trade, and in some cases the excavations were used as night-soil dumps. Bone mills, goats and pig-keeping added to the effluvia.

In the early 1860s the cream and red brick courthouse was constructed in Sandridge to a design by architect JJ Clark of the Public Works Department. After the first local election in 1861 the Council had met in the court house for the first time. It was also around this time that the police station and bluestone lock-up were built as part of the law enforcement complex. None of these buildings is still used for its original purpose.

In 1869 the first town hall was built in Bay Street. After congested accomodation in the church schools and the National school, a State primary school was opened in Nott Street in 1874. The Australian Handbook described Sandridge in 1875 as –

In 1884 Sandridge was renamed Port Melbourne. Its role as a transport centre meant that Port Melbourne was home to a number of hotels in the 19th century. The Fountain Inn (1860s), on the corner of Raglan/Crockford and Bay Street, was one such hotel. It remains largely intact today.

Port Melbourne also supported a number of industries during the 1800s. These included a soap and candle works, rice and flour mills, a sugar refinery, boot factory, chemical works, gasworks and a distillery.

In 1893 Port Melbourne became a town and on May 14 1919 was proclaimed a city.

In 1934-35 the cement rendered reinforced concrete beam and Centenary Bridge was constructed in Port Melbourne. Built as part of the Unemployment Relief Program of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the bridge features ornamented piers at its entrances. It was also the major publicly funded monument erected as part of Victoria’s Centenary Celebrations and was officially opened by the Duke of Gloucester. Centenary Bridge is today listed by the National Trust (Vic).

The suburb of Port Melbourne is located on Hobsons Bay, on the east bank of the mouth of the Yarra River, four kilometres south-west of Melbourne. It is today a part of the City of Port Phillip, which was formed by the amalgamation of the former cities of Port Melbourne, South Melbourne and St Kilda in 1994.

The port still plays host to cargo vessels and passenger ships, which dock at Station Pier (the northern section of which was built between 1922 and 1930). In modern times the suburb has also developed from one of Melbourne’s poorest areas into a wealthier residential area, blending more modern development with restored public buildings and workers cottages

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Port Melbourne circa 1997
Port Melbourne circa 1997


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.


Carlton is a residential, commercial and educational area adjoining the northern boundary of central Melbourne at Victoria Street. Its other boundaries are Elizabeth Street/Royal Parade, Cemetery Road/Princes Street and Nicholson Street. The University of Melbourne is in the postcode area of Parkville, but is treated here as being in Carlton. The area north of Cemetery Road/Princes Street is Carlton North.

The subdivision and settlement of Carlton came later than that of Fitzroy and Collingwood.. By the gold rush, 1851, two thirds of those suburbs were subdivided, often in a hap-hazard way calculated to maximize profit on the resale of land. When Robert Hoddle, Government surveyor, came to survey Carlton in 1852, care was taken to lay out streets in an orderly grid, with reserves for open space and religious institutions.

His survey was bounded by Royal Parade, Grattan Street, Nicholson Streetand Victoria Street, but with the University provided for in a reserve north of Grattan Street. The churches’ precinct was in Queensberry Street, between Lygon and Rathdowne Streets (Anglican, Free Gaelic and Wesleyan), and one block north in Pelham Street (Catholic). There were no school or hospital reserves, but Lincoln Square, Argyle Square and Carlton Gardens were shown.The two squares provided a distinctly English tone for the new suburb.

Carlton, thought to have been named after the residence of the Prince of Wales, was relatively elevated, and attracted several notable homes. Justice Redmond Barry lived in Rathdowne Street, equi distant between the City Court and the University of which he was the first Chancellor in 1955.

By 1860 Carlton had five schools of which one, in Faraday Street, was a National School (1858), and ran continuously until 1972.

By 1884 there were four government schools: Lygon Street, 1870-1908, Queensberry Street, 1881-1932, Faraday Street (already mentioned) and Rathdowne Street, which was opened in 1884 and is the sole survivor. Four non-government schools closed between 1863 and 1884.

The number of schools is indicative of the size of the local population.Whilst some large homes were built, speculators subdivided blocks of landfor cottages, forming narrow streets and narrower lanes for house frontages,overcoming Hoddle’s vision for a spacious suburb. In any event, the gold-rush immigrants wanted houses within walking distance of their workplaces, many of which were in central Melbourne.

In 1858 one of Carlton’s best known landmarks began. In Bouverie Streetthe North Melbourne Brewery was opened. (The name North Melbourne was appropriatebecause for some years after Carlton was surveyed all the land north ofVictoria Street was “North Melbourne”.) The brewery failed and was sold in 1864 to Edward Latham, who secured the services of a skilledbrewer. Carlton Ale never looked back. The bluestone offices (1864) in Bouverie Street remain, after the brewery site was cleared in the late 1980s.

Other landmarks which began in the 1850s include the Melbourne University(1855), the Catholic Church and St. Georges school (1855), the lying-inhospital (1856 – later the Royal Women’s Hospital), and the land grant forthe Trades Hall at the corner of Lygon and Russell Streets. In 1866 St.Judes Church of England in Keppel Street was built. Nine years later theFree Hospital for Sick Children was opened when it moved from Spring Street,Melbourne, to Redmond Barry’s residence in Pelham Street, between Drummond and Rathdowne Streets. St. Nicholas’s Hospital was built on the site in1899, the forerunner of the Royal Children’s Hospital, Parkville.

In 1864 a local football club was formed and won premierships in 1873-5 among local competition, before the formation of the Victorian Football Association in 1877. The Carlton Football Club was a founding memberof the Victorian Football League in 1897, the year it moved its home ground to Princes Park. It won five premierships between 1906 and 1914 and eight more, including three in its best postwar decade, the 1980s.

In 1878 eight hectares were set aside in the Carlton Gardens for a building for Melbourne’s International Exhibition in 1880-1. The international event was Melbourne’s sixth exhibition, and its grandest. The building with its prominent dome became the venue for exhibitions, motor shows, home shows,the first federal Parliament and countless public examinations for secondaryand tertiary students.

In 1887-8 tram lines were opened along Swanston Street, Elgin Street, Rathdowne Street and Nicholson Street. There was no tram along Lygon Street,but it had substantial rows of shops and commercial buildings.

In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Carlton as –


By the turn of the century Carlton was home mostly to artisans, workmenand small industries. Emigrants found employment and affordable housingthere, and two main groups were Jews and Italians. Jewish residents had synagogues in Bourke Street West, Melbourne, and in East Melbourne, but by 1919 their increasing numbers in Carlton brought about a synagogue in Pitt Street. It ushered in the peak Jewish population in south Carlton during the inter-war years.

Not long after Jewish residents began arriving Italians settled in central Carlton. Their numbers grew during the inter-war period, and the early postwaryears saw the greatest Italian influence in Carlton. They left or influencedseveral landmarks: Bosari’s Emporium, Lygon Street (1940), the Valmorbida family’s grocery shops (Agostinos and King and Godfrees), University Cafe,an early espresso bar (1951) and Toto’s pizzeria, Lygon Street (1966). Italianinfluence came to the fore with the first Lygon Street Festa in 1978.

Another expanding postwar population was students at Melbourne University.The university had had residential colleges since 1871, on an arc of land north of the University granted to the Presbyterian, Wesleyan, Catholicand Anglican Churches, but student digs in low-rent houses were popular.Their presence added variety to the burgeoning cafe life in LygonStreet, several beginning life-time associations with Jimmy Watson’s winebar. (Watson came from an Italian family and bought his wine saloon in 1934,upgrading it to a place of high reputation. Remodelled by Robin Boyd with a stunning white facade (1963), the business is run by the family’s third generation and is commemorated by a premier annual wine trophy.)

The Catholic reserve at the corner of Pelham and Rathdowne Streets became the Scared Heart Church (1897). The Lourdes Grotto in its ground was built by Italian craftsmen during the 1940s. Behind the church is one of Carlton’soldest buildings, the bluestone St. George’s school (1855). The site was noted for festivals and processions during the early postwar years. In the late 1980s the property was transferred to Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Church and primary school, a sign of changing ethnic composition as Italiansfound more spacious residences in Bulleen and other suburbs further fromcentral Melbourne.

Carlton’s southern boundary has three prominent sites facing central Melbourne. The Carlton Gardens, with notable tree-lined paths, and decorative gardens with a fountain fronting the refurbished Exhibition building. Various annexes to the Exhibition were removed during the 1990s and a site at therear will house the new State museum (The Aquarium, a popular commercial annexe, was burnt down in 1953.) Further to the west, there is the bluestone Bouverie Street brewery buildings, beside one of Melbourne’s longest-lasting demolition sites.

Across middle Carlton are University, Lincoln and Argyle Squares, two of them partly occupied by bowling clubs. Argyle Square fronts Lygon Street,with shopping strips north and south of it. Many shops have been convertedto cafes and restaurants, and the wide road provides a spacious outlookand room for kerbside cafes. The Lygon Court Plaza (1988) has 35 shops innearly 9,000 square metres of space.

North of Grattan Street there are the University, the Royal Women’s Hospitaland a blend of commercial and residential premises. Neighbourhood Macarthurand Murchison Squares make for attractive precincts. The University has spread beyond its reservation, consuming numerous residential and commercial properties.

The north area of Carlton, adjoining Princes Street, is predominantly residential. It was once targeted for slum reclamation. By the mid 1960s the Housing Commission had defined 81 ha., bounded by Swanston Street, CemeteryRoad/Princes Street, Nicholson Street and Grattan/Carlton Streets, as appropriatefor redevelopment. Ultimately two high-rise estates were built in Rathdowne and Palmerston Streets.

The Commission’s threatened redevelopment and the prospect of the Eastern Freeway funnelling traffic through Carlton gave rise to the formation of the Carlton Association in 1969. The Association, linked to the gentrification process under way in Carlton, rapidly grew and its intellect and numbersbrought about rapid changes in Government and Council policies. The suburb’s nineteenth century building stock was substantially saved.

Saving Carlton from through traffic was achieved incrementally during the 1980s as traffic barriers and one-way routes were installed.

The median house price in Carlton was 22% above the median for metropolitanMelbourne in 1987 and in 1996 it was 48% above the metropolitan median.

Carlton had census populations of 152 (1861),13,119 (1911) and 17,052 (including 7,977 in Carlton North 1986).

Further Reading:

  • Among the Terraces, “Carlton Forest Project, c.1991”, (sixbooklets on Carlton).
  • “Between Two Worlds: Jews, Italians and Carlton”, Museum ofVictoria and other, 1992.
  • Logan, William S., “The Gentrification of Inner Melbourne: A PoliticalGeography of Inner City Housing”, University of Queensland Press, 1985.
  • Nigel Lewis and Associates, “Carlton”, North Carlton and PrincesHill Conservation Study, 1984.
  • Australian Paper Mills, “Alphington”, Heidelberg, 1937.

East Melbourne

East Melbourne is a residential and commercial suburb which retains a number of religious and institutional buildings on land grants made during the nineteenth century. It borders central Melbourne’s Spring Street, and its other boundaries are Victoria Parade, Hoddle Street/PuntRoad and the Yarra River.

The Government surveyor, Robert Hoddle, prepared a plan for East Melbourne in 1837, with roads correctly running north-southand east-west on contrast to the skewed directions of central Melbourne’s streets which took their axis from the direction of the Yarra River. Hoddle’s plan had a grid layout north of the extension of Flinders Street, i.e. WellingtonParade, and the north-south Police and Government Paddocks from WellingtonParade to the river. The plan was not implemented, and settlement leap-frogged East Melbourne to Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond.

An early resident of East Melbourne was Charles La Trobe, Superintendentof the Port Phillip District, who was obliged to buy at auction the landhe had chosen at Jolimont, off Wellington Parade, as the place on whichto erect his transportable dwelling. He bought the land at his opening bidin 1840. La Trobe’s cottage survives on a reserve across the Yarra River,near the Botanic Gardens.

Numerous reservations were made for churches and schools, particularlyalong Albert Street. Two early ones were St. Peters Church of England, GisborneStreet (formally opened 1848), on the spot known as Eastern Hill, and onthe other side of Gisborne Street , the St. Patricks Cathedral and school.On an adjoining block to the south the Presbyterian, Lutheran and Unitarianchurches were given reserves, and Melbourne’s first Scotch College was alsobuilt there. Eastwards, at Eades Street, land was reserved for the CatholicParade College (named after Victoria Parade), and a Presbyterian institutionwhich became Presbyterian Ladies’ College (1875).

These reservations are north of a larger reserve which became Fitzroy Gardens. To the east of the Gardens the Church of England was granted land on which were built Bishopscourt (the Bishop’s Palace) and Holy Trinity Church (1864). Land was put aside for Government institutions along Spring Street. On the north-east corner of Spring and Albert Streets land for a school was set aside. On that site the National Model and Training Schoolwas opened in 1854, becoming a continuation and high school (1905-33), before being replaced by the Australian Medical Association’s College of Surgeons(1935). To the south a reserve for a legislative assembly was laid out.

South of Wellington Parade the land comprised the Police Magistrate’sand Government Paddocks, initially occupied only by Captain Lonsdale’s residencesouth of Spring Street and by the La Trobes. By the mid 1860s five recreationalovals were marked out: the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Richmond Cricket Ground, East Melbourne Cricket Club ovals (two), and an oval in Gosch’s Paddock,south of Swan Street. In addition the Hobson’s Bay Railway Company had ane asement to Richmond (1863) over the park and the Friendly Society’s Gardens (now Olympic Park), and Scotch College oval were marked out. Lastly therewere the Victorian Volunteer Engineer’s Depot and Gustav Techow’s National Gymnasium, west of Jolimont.

When the La Trobes left Victoria, Sir James Palmer (former owner of the Hawthorn punt and Mayor of Melbourne), bought their property. Private streets were laid out, including two named Agnes and Charles after the La Trobe’s children, and a quiet residential precinct emerged, save for a footwear factory with the La Trobe’s cottage in its back yard until the ricketty remains were saved in 1959.

Most of the East Melbourne land left for private occupation was sold in 1852-3, and the land east of Simpson Street was sold in 1858. ResidentialEast Melbourne was convenient for Parliamentarians and Government officialswhen the Parliament was transferred from St. Patrick’s Hall to the new reservein 1856. It was also convenient for City merchants and professional people.The most famous was Cliveden Mansion, opposite Jolimont railway station.Built in 1887, the mansion was replaced by the Hilton Hotel in 1969.

East Melbourne has several open spaces. The largest, first named FitzRoy Square, was initially a dumping ground for refuse until handed overto the council in 1855. The council had the good fortune to engage a landscape gardener, James Sinclair, who laid out the Fitzroy Gardens. Some twentieth century additions to the Gardens include Cooks’ cottage (i.e. Captain JamesCook’s parents’ cottage), Ola Cohn’s fairies’ tree, sculpted from a bluegum, and a model Tudor Village presented in appreciation of Victoria’s assistance during Britain’s postwar food shortages. Nearby are the Treasury Gardens,laid out on a former reserve for Government offices. They, too, had beena dumping ground until a large gully was filled in during the 1870s. There are also two small neighbourhood parks, Darling Square and Powlett Reserve.

The easterly Albert Street/Victoria Parade corridor has several notablebuildings additional to those for which Crown reservations were made. Closest to central Melbourne is the I.C.I. building, built in 1958 and Melbourne’s tallest until 1961. Proceeding east there are (or were) the Salvation ArmyTraining garrison (1900), Jewish Synagogue (1877), Baptist Church and offices(1855), Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s Building (1892, with a look-out toweron Eastern Hill), and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (1878). Furthereast is the Victorian Artists’ Society and Conservatorium (1892), and theMasonic Centre on the site of the old Presbyterian Ladies’ College.

Eastern Hill and vicinity had the Model School, Scotch College, PresbyterianLadies’ College, a Jewish School, St. Patricks College and Parade College.Only the last-mentioned survives in East Melbourne.

The Victoria Brewery (1854) grew to occupy a large site in Victoria Paradeat Powelett Street, but it was decommissioned in the 1980s and convertedto apartments in the next decade.

The medical industry’s strong presence in east Melbourne is evident fromdoctors’ rooms along Albert Street and the Mercy and Freemason’s Hospitals(1935 and 1937), in Clarendon Street. St. Andrews Hospital (1934), is onthe old Scotch College site in Lansdowne Street.

Despite all these institutional uses, residential occupation has beenstrong in East Melbourne. This had been evident in church attendances andin the opening of the Yarra Park primary school (1874) in an area whichwas subdivided from Yarra Park in 1881. The Victorian Infants’ Asylum wasgiven land in this subdivision, evolving to the Berry Street Babies’ Home,which has widened to child and family care.

East Melbourne’s residential building stock was mature by the 1890s depression,and gradually declined in desirability as mansions were internally convertedto flats and cottages were let go. By the early postwar years the prospectof redevelopment was evident, and municipal and private improvement endangeredthe urban fabric. When the Melbourne council cut down some mature elm streettrees, it galvanized the formation of the residents’ East Melbourne Group. This coincided with the publication of the ground-breaking Early Melbourne Architecture (1953), followed shortly by the National Trust (1956). Attentionwas focused on East Melbourne’s built heritage and nearly all of East Melbournewas specified as an historic precinct in the Register of the National Estate,1981. Fifty buildings were separately registered. Over seventy buildingsand structures, including the I.C.I. building, are on the Victorian Heritage Register.

East Melbourne’s building stock was enlarged during the 1990s when theYarra Park school and adjoining land was used for apartments, and when therailways yards west of Jolimont were reduced. The railways had taken theland in 1921 when it was the East Melbourne Cricket ground and part of YarraPark, and when the stabling facilities were withdrawn the land was sold for private-sector housing.

The Melbourne Cricket Ground dates from 1853, having also become a homeground for several football clubs. It has a seating capacity of 100,000,and its curtilage was enlarged when light towers were erected for nightevents (1984).

On the other side of the railway line part of Flinders and Yarra Parks was taken in 1985 for the National Tennis Centre, the Government’s initiative to replace the Kooyong venue. These mass entertainment facilities, together with those at Olympic Park, draw very large crowds. Train services from Richmond and Jolimont and tram services along Swan Street and WellingtonParade carry many patrons, but private cars cause traffic and parking congestion. East Melbourne’s streets have intersection roundabouts and resident-only parking. Residents gain respite from urban congestion with handsome road verges and the Fitzroy and other gardens.

East Melbourne’s median house prices from 1987 to 1996 were about 160% above the median price for metropolitan Melbourne.

Its census population in 1986 was 4,349 persons.

Further Reading:

  • Burchett, Winston, “East Melbourne, 1837-1977: People, Places, Problems”,Craftsman Press Pty. Ltd., 1978.