They left their mark: a taste of historic North Melbourne, Canning and Shiel St

99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051

They left their mark: a taste of historic North Melbourne, Canning and Shiel St

99 Shiel Street, North Melbourne VIC 3051
13 m
.89 km
Very Easy
Directions to walk Directions


This walk will take you around the triangular block bounded by Shiel, Dryburgh and Canning Streets. The streets follow the original curves of Hotham hill.

They left their mark: a taste of historic North Melbourne, Canning and Shiel St

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The Victorian Archives Centre, home of Public Record Office Victoria and the National Archives, is located on Wurundjeri land, built into an escarpment on Hotham Hill which was named after the Governor who sent the troops to the Eureka Stockade.

To the south was once a Blue Lagoon. It was polluted and drained in the 1870s. To the west beyond the high rise towers of the public housing estate is the Moonee Ponds Creek.

The Housing Commission’s landmark towers, built after the 1950 slum clearances, replaced streets of the earlier single fronted timber cottages usually referred to as workers’ cottages. The towers have housed successive waves of migrants. Soon, new modern apartments will challenge the high rise.

This walk will take you around the triangular block bounded by Shiel, Dryburgh and Canning Streets. The streets follow the original curves of the hill.

Today the neighbourhood is largely Victorian in character even though some older houses have been replaced. Thus double storeyed terraces look out over small front gardens; back lanes lead along back fences to back gates; decorative cast iron casts shadows on neighbouring walls and footpaths; stucco features and varicoloured bricks decorate facades. In these streets timber houses have usually been the first to go and on those sites you will see newer houses that match their earlier neighbours in height and setback.

The early arrivals of the nineteenth century built for a community of people who walked to their daily destinations. The area has itself remained a pedestrian precinct with buses and electric trams replacing the horse drawn cabs and cable trams of the City and nearby suburbs.

During the 1880s, a social fabric was created locally by the generation who campaigned for universal suffrage and set up municipal facilities, schools and sporting clubs.

Today, the documents held by Public Record Office Victoria include land and property records, wills and inquest evidence and provide intimate details of people who belonged on the Hill or who have contributed to its particular history.


Points of Interest

1. Victorian Archives Centre, 99 Shiel Street

The Victorian Archives Centre has been on this site for twenty years. This short walk in nearby streets shows how we can use the diverse collection to build our own insights into the past.

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2. Mattingley house, 54 Shiel Street

This was Albert Mattingley’s house. When the family came to Melbourne in 1852 his mother set up a school. He went on to found the Errol Street State School, now North Melbourne Primary.

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3. McManus house, 48 Shiel St

Behind the fence is the house where Frank McManus grew up. The son of an Irish migrant, in the 1960s he famously left the Australian Labor Party to lead the Democratic Labour Party in the Senate.

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4. Claire Cooley and Margaret Judd, signatories of the 1891 Monster Petition to get women the vote.

Women’s suffrage was strong in North Melbourne yet in Shiel Street only Claire Cooley and Margaret Judd at No. 34 signed the 1891 petition. Theirs was not a Victorian terrace but a house like No 32

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5. Gardiner's Reserve, cnr Haines, Shiel, Dryburgh Streets

Tiger Gardiner founded the North Melbourne Football Club because his sons were idle at the end of the cricket season. As Shinboners or Roos, North are four time AFL/VFL Premiers.

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6. Lady Huntingfield Kindergarten, 87 Haines Street

Lady Huntingfield, American-born wife of a Governor of Victoria, was a leader in social welfare. The pioneering Melbourne City Council kindergarten that bears her name first opened in 1940.

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7. Kenndy Inquest, 342 Dryburgh Street, cnr Dryburgh & Haines

An 1844 inquest records the death of a toddler who wandered off and died in the bush. His family came back to Melbourne and until the 1950s lived in a double fronted wooden house at 342 Dryburgh.

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8. Bluestone Lanes, Kerrs Lane

Bluestone lanes are a feature of North Melbourne. The volcanic basalt plains of Western Victoria from which they come are the third largest in the world, and date from 4.5 million years ago.

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9. Bangalore 33 Canning St

Bangalore, a late Victorian Italianate Villa, c.1892 owned by Isaac Gidney who was a prominent exporter of horses to India in the 1870s. A trade continuing up to the mid 1960’s.

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10. Laurens' house, 407 Dryburgh Street

Elizabeth was the widow of John Laurens, Mayor of Hotham in 1873 and founder of the library. Her will listing the contents of their Victorian home is a unique insight into the life of the times.

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11. The Ukrainian Cathedral, 35 Canning Street

This Catholic cathedral built in the 1960s is a reminder that North Melbourne has been the first home of many migrant groups. The congregation still uses Ukrainian language and traditions.

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12. WW1, 47 & 49 Canning Street

Two Dohertys, long term residents of 49 Canning Street and neighbour Charles Mason, bootmaker, from No. 47 went to WWI. When Jack Doherty was killed it was found he had been using a false name.

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13. Suffragettes (getting women the vote ),7 Peckville Street

Twelve women who lived in Peckville Street signed the 1891 petition, they were neighbours – women like Hannah Pride who had buried infant children and some who died before the right to vote was won.

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Historical Interest Historical Interest
Local Treasures Local Treasures
Art and Culture Art and Culture
Park(s)/Garden(s) Park(s)/Garden(s)
Public Transport Public Transport
Playground Playground
Picnic Spot Picnic Spot
Wheelchair Friendly Wheelchair Friendly
Drinking Water Available Drinking Water Available
Pram friendly Pram friendly


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