Memories of North Melbourne's industrial and social past

Intersection of Victoria and Peel Streets (north west corner of Victoria Market)

Memories of North Melbourne's industrial and social past

Intersection of Victoria and Peel Streets (north west corner of Victoria Market)

2 h 30 m
4.59 km
Easy

This walk takes you on a journey around North Melbourne and gives glimpses of its industrial and social history, and the many changes moving into the 21st century.

Memories of North Melbourne's industrial and social past

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Summary

This walk takes you on a journey around North Melbourne and gives glimpses of its industrial and social history, and the many changes moving into the 21st century.

Description

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Acknowledgement
We respectfully acknowledge the original owners of Nth Melbourne country, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong boon Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin nation.

In pursuing memories of North Melbourne's past, we visit sites of significant buildings; some no longer present (Melbourne Benevolent Asylum) and others going forward (new Arden St station).

On this walk you will see buildings or sites previously dedicated to food manufacture and processing (flour and meat), transport systems (stables and horse drawn buses) and the manufacture of clay products (bricks), as well as a road that provided important support for gold rush traffic in the mid to late 1800s (hotels, commerce), leisure activities (football), religion (churches), and a huge mix of residential properties.

The walk highlights a place of significance to people of the Kulin Nation, from where the Blue Lake (later known as the West Melbourne swamp) was visible. Here on Hotham Hill, the highest point in the suburb, you have the option of concluding the walk by going to Flemington Rd opposite the Children’s Hospital for tram access (57, 58, 59) or taking an extended walk along several beautiful streets back to the start in Victoria St.

We have drawn on information provided by the Hotham History Project (hothamhistory.org.au) and True North – Victoria’s Big Build, a collaborative project between the Metro Tunnel Creative Program, North and West Melbourne Association, and the Hotham History Project (bigbuild.vic.gov.au/projects/metro-tunnel/community/art/creative-program/arden/true-north). We gratefully acknowledge both these sources. The following information is taken from their websites.

The community of North and West Melbourne was formerly known as Hotham. In the west, there was a Blue Lake (now the site of Arden Station) with abundant flora and fauna, which sustained the life and cultural traditions of the local Aboriginal people. With the goldrush of the 1850s, North Melbourne became a supply and stopping post with consequent development of railway lines north and west (affecting the drainage of the lake and exposing the underlying clay), construction of many hotels and thoroughfares providing goods and services for travellers. As well as potters and brickmakers, there were abattoirs, tanneries and bone mills, flour millers, bakers and biscuit manufacturers, timber yards and carpenters. We see evidence of important 19th C public transport with the Melbourne Omnibus Company responsible for establishing the first large-scale urban-street public transport system in Victoria. Lastly, we note the variety and changes in housing including restored 19th century cottages and mansions, to conversions of factories and warehouses to modern apartments.

Notes:
1. Carry drinking water as there are very few shops along this route.
2. This map intersects but doesn’t overlap with Walking Map 4345 and the Walking Tour on the Victorian Archives Centre blog.

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Points of Interest

1. Site of The Oriental Coffee Palace (1888) and Gladstone House, 326-350 Victoria St

The Oriental Coffee Palace was a boarding house for migrant workers employed nearby that served coffee but not alcohol. Later renamed Gladstone House. Photo: picturevictoria.vic.gov.au/site/... 188875

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2. St Mary Star of the Sea Church (1882-1900)

A beautiful Gothic Revival Catholic church, in the parish which, since 2001, has been entrusted to the care of priests of Opus Dei. The new Victorian Quaker Centre is opposite, at 484 Williams St.

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3. 287 Victoria St (southern side), Hennessy Bros Bakers (best seen from the northern side of street)

Shopfront of one of many bakeries serving the local and transient community. Notice the ghostsigns next door. As you continue west, see Victorian terraces, decorative cast iron, and many verandahs.

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4. Three Crowns Hotel, on the corner at 365 Victoria St, 1860-1875

The Three Crowns may refer to the three crowns of England, Scotland and Wales, united after Elizabeth I's reign. The hotel was one of 57 in Hotham en route to the goldfields. Errol St link - map 4345.

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5. Large hall at 570 Victoria St, now a reception centre (best seen from the southern side)

Originally, the headquarters of the Locomotive Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association, later the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Engineers (note the ornamental railway locomotive on top).

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6. Footprint of Melbourne Benevolent Asylum (1851) (building demolished 1911)

The Asylum was a huge complex built on the site between Abbotsford, Curzon, Elm & Miller Sts to house the aged, infirm and disabled. It opened in 1851 to major fanfare. Later moved to Cheltenham.

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7. 700-708 Victoria St, previously Mulcahy’s Hotel (re-erected 1929)

This building, now apartments, retains many of the original Greek revival and decorative features: exterior ceramic tiles on dado, colonnaded verandah, and symmetrical, ornamental windows and doors.

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8. Weston Milling (formerly Thomas Brunton & Co). Located where Anderson St becomes Munster Tce

Thomas Brunton & Co introduced modern flour grinding in Victoria, and contributed to flour becoming a major Australian export. The railway building was used to store an extra 20,000 bags of wheat.

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9. Guest & Co Flour Mill/Bakery, 11 Anderson St, now apartments

For many years, Guests was one of the city’s most famed makers of cakes and biscuits, including the varieties of teddy bear, milk arrowroot, marie and ginger nuts. See ghostsign from median strip.

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10. Former Smith & Sons Bakery, then Brockhoff's, corner of Anderson, Miller and Laurens Sts

A F Brockhoff (1841-1923) purchased the flour milling firm of Smith & Sons, in 1880, and focused mainly on producing self-raising flour (until 1925), then biscuits, merging with Arnotts in 1963.

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11. ‘Cakes’ ghostsign on no. 18 Laurens St (look up)

Laurens St is transitioning from an industrial past to now include modern residences. See low rise terraces, warehouse conversions, and new low rise apartments. The link gives more on Ghostsigns.

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12. Arden Station complex, 191 Laurens St (due to open in 2025)

Part of the proposed Arden Urban Development Plan. Note the ‘barrel vault’ archway design incorporating 100,000 bricks in 15 arches in homage to local brick works, pipe makers and potteries of C19th.

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13. Arden St Oval, home of the AFL North Melbourne Kangaroos, once known as 'Shinboners'

The nickname derived from local abattoirs and bone mills where some of the players worked. See the sign on the new clubhouse rooms. Walk left around the oval to the Pumphouse Apartments (more at #14).

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14. Pumphouse Apartments, 64 Macauley Rd, former distribution point for town & natural gas for 100 years

Built in and next to the original valve house and boiler room of the Metropolitan Gas Company (1887), this site was the home of the Gasometer. Enter the foyer at #86 to see a brief history and relics.

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15. Former Hotham stables (1873) of the Melbourne Omnibus Company, 36-58 Macauley Rd

See ghostsigns as you pass the former premises of Stokoe Motors. The horses and vehicles of Melbourne Omnibus Company, housed here, provided services until 1890 when they were superceded by trams.

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16. Gardiner Reserve (cnr Macauley Rd and Dryburgh St)

Named after Tiger Gardiner who founded the North Melbourne Football Club because his sons were idle at the end of the cricket season. Recently expanded. Note: There is a public toilet in Haines St.

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17. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, 35 Canning St (1963) with a notable mosaic altar

A dramatic and interesting cathedral and one of the largest in Melbourne. The church is included in the Walking Map “They left their mark: a taste of historic North Mebourne, Canning and Shiel Sts”.

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18. Pleasance Gardens, Canning St, between Dryburgh St and Abbotsford St

A significant meeting place for First Nation Australians. These gardens were once grassland with several small caves and to the south the land sloped down to a creek and a blue saltwater lagoon.

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19. Architecture in Canning and nearby streets

Evident here is a mixture of beautiful and interesting architecture, including elegant period homes and some houses with iconic Australian Federation features, eg the rising sun motif at 7 Carroll St.

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20. End of Carrolls Lane – Maison Marney ghost sign

Situated on the northern side of Pleasance Gardens, the advertising ghostsign is clear: Maison Marn-y Brandy. Note the old lifting device in the neighbouring lane.

21. Former butcher’s shop, corner of Canning and Abbotsford Sts

Look up for 'A. Clack 1886'. Another shop reminiscent of local meat history. If you wish to finish the walk, proceed north along Abbotsford St for about 300m to Flemington Rd for trams 57, 58 and 59.

22. Chapman Street, named after Henry Chapman, Attorney-General of Victoria (1857-59)

Here, on Hotham Hill, note mansions, cottages with decorative lacework, cast iron features (pillars, fence and verandahs), concrete and timber ornamentation. ‘Waterdale’ (no. 56), is part of RMCH.

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23. Harker St, becomes Arden St, former goldrush route

Harker St, which becomes Curzon St, was the main thoroughfare to the goldfields and home of many of North Melbourne's 57 pubs. Cross and go south along Errol St and then turn left into Courtney St.

24. Hotham – late Victorian style house (1889), 103 Courtney St

An elaborate 3-storey brick house built for wheelwright and coach builder, George Grigg. He owned and occupied this site until 1893 when it passed to the Australian Widows' Fund, a Friendly Society.

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25. Former Metropolitan Meat Market, 1-3 Blackwood St

Built in 1880 and trading until 1974, the block of the Meat Market was a metropolitan trade space for meat vendors. Acquired by the state government, it was transformed into an arts centre in 1979.

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26. Howard Street, named after Charles Howard, the then Assistant Commissary General

Howard street was once an extraordinarily busy street, with stores catering to “thousands who streamed by on their way to the goldfields” but the traffic diminished after Flemington Rd was built.

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27. St Mary’s Anglican Church 1858

In 1852, the Church of England in Hotham was granted an acre of Crown Land, used for worship in open air before “the Dutch oven" (two rooms of zinc and felt) was built. Later, St Mary's was erected.

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Features

Public Transport Public Transport
Picnic spot Picnic spot
Public toilets Public toilets
Historical interest Historical interest
Park / Garden Park / Garden