Northcote, Victoria

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Northcote Town Hall 01a.jpg
Northcote Town Hall
Northcote is located in Melbourne
Coordinates 37°46′20″S 144°59′58″E / 37.7722°S 144.9994°E / -37.7722; 144.9994Coordinates: 37°46′20″S 144°59′58″E / 37.7722°S 144.9994°E / -37.7722; 144.9994
Population 22,920 (2011)[1]
 • Density 3,638/km2 (9,420/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 3070
Area 6.3 km2 (2.4 sq mi)
Location 7 km (4 mi) from Melbourne
LGA(s) City of Darebin
State electorate(s) Northcote
Federal Division(s) Batman
Suburbs around Northcote:
Brunswick East Thornbury Thornbury
Brunswick East Northcote Fairfield
Fitzroy North Clifton Hill Fairfield

Northcote (About this sound pronunciation ) is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 7 km north-east of Melbourne's Central Business District. Its local government area is the City of Darebin. At the 2011 Census, Northcote had a population of 22,920.

The name Northcote is thought to be derived from the leader of the English Conservative Party, Stafford Henry Northcote.


Melbourne in 1888

The area now known as Northcote is on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people. According to the Darebin Historical Encyclopedia,[2] "[w]hite settlers knew the Wurundjeri as the ‘Yarra’ tribe. They were closely associated with the Yarra River and its subsidiaries, with various subgroups of the tribe owning lands at various spots on the course of the Yarra. They were the main tribe of Aboriginal people settled in the area that would become Melbourne. Their language, Woiwurrung, also distinguished them".

The subgroups of the Wurundjeri included the ‘true’ Wurundjeri, under the clan head Jakka-Jakka. This name is also spelt as Jaga-Jaga and Jika-Jika. His was one of the signatures on John Batman’streaty’ of 1835. This clan occupied land which included parts of the Darebin Creek. The Kurnaje-berreing were further divided into two groups. Billibellary led one group, the Wurundjeri-willam; his clan’s lands included the Merri Creek and much of what is now the City of Darebin. The other was led by Bebe-jan. His clan owned some of the land by the Darebin Creek. The final subgroup of the Wurundjeri was called the Boi-berrit, led by Bungerim. Their land was centred around Sunbury. Within these subgroups there was further division, usually on family lines, with each group owning a defined tract of land.

Under leaders like Billibellary, the Wurundjeri were able to develop reasonable working relationships with white settlers. While they remained true to their values and customs, they also became guides, messengers and workers in a world that was changing so dramatically around them. Due to the tolerance and wisdom of Aboriginal leaders like Billibellary and Beruke, and the patience and determination of Assistant Protector William Thomas, there was little violence between whites and the Wurundjeri-willam, a marked contrast to the violence and brutality that disgraces much of the early history of white settlement in Australia.

The European settlement of the Northcote area began in 1839 with a Government land sale. Many of these allotments were long, narrow strips of land running in an east-west configuration, which has resulted in the street patterns of the suburb to this day. The area to the north of (what is now) Oldis Gardens was surveyed as the township of Northcote in 1853. The name is thought to be derived from the leader of the English Conservative Party, Stafford Henry Northcote. Although he was never Prime Minister he held several important cabinet posts.

The southerly surveyed portion is now Westgarth. It was the area further north of present-day Westgarth which saw settlement and development, particularly around the mansion built by William Rucker on Bayview Street in 1842 (the area now known as Ruckers Hill). Large, expensive houses were built throughout the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s. Lower Plenty Road (or High Street as it is known today) became the central street of Northcote, instead of Westgarth Street as initially proposed. A bridge was built across the Merri Creek in 1858, making access to the area more convenient. Throughout the 1850s, churches, schools, and hotels were built (see Timeline).

Throughout the 1870s the area contained a number of slaughteryards, piggeries, and claypits. One such claypit operated on the corner of Separation Street and High Street, which eventually became the Northcote Patent Brick Company, supplying much of the area's bricks. When the brickworks closed down, the site became the Northcote Plaza Shopping Centre in 1981. The quarried land became the Northcote Regional Tip, later to be transformed into All Nations Park, a public park. The Northcote Primary School on Helen Street opened in 1874. At this stage, Northcote was still a rural area, with orchards and occasional mansions.

Throughout the 1880s, land in Northcote was relatively cheap, owing to its lack of public transport. This attracted speculative property investors, as well as people of limited financial means, setting in place Northcote's reputation as a working-class suburb. Following the arrival of public transport in the late 1880s and early 1890s, the population of Northcote began to increase. More businesses opened along High Street, as well as churches and schools. The Little Sisters Of The Poor began building on a site along St Georges Road, which still exists today. The town hall was built in 1890, the same year the Borough of Northcote was proclaimed. The Northcote Football Club was established in 1898, with its home ground at Northcote Park.

The Northcote Picture Theatre opened in 1912. Its building is now one of the oldest surviving picture theatres in Victoria. It is now used as a reception centre. A free library opened in 1911, financed by Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Throughout the 1920s development grew along St Georges Road. The Northcote High School opened in 1926.

Throughout the 1950s the area became home to a large number of Italian and Greek migrants. By the 1980s, gentrification of Fitzroy and Fitzroy North had pushed some of the artistic and activist communities north into Northcote.

Public transport[edit]

Access to Northcote via public transport was initially via the Inner Circle Line, which when linked to the Heidelberg Line in 1888, ran close to the southern border of the suburb. The line to Whittlesea was opened in 1891, creating a direct line to Northcote, although the line initially journeyed via Royal Park, Carlton North, and Fitzroy North, before a line was built from Clifton Hill to Melbourne through the suburb of Richmond in 1901 to 1903. The northern section of the Inner Circle Line was closed to passengers in 1948, leaving the eastern section (from Melbourne to Clifton Hill, via Richmond and Collingwood).

Northcote has five railway stations along two lines. The South Morang Line serves Merri Station, Northcote Station and Croxton Station. The Hurstbridge Line serves Westgarth Station and Dennis Station.

A cable tram began operations along High Street in 1890 (now tram route 86). A tram line opened along St Georges Road in 1920 (now tram route 11). Northcote is also served by bus routes along Separation Street, Westgarth Street and Victoria Road.


Northcote as a suburb has undergone gentrification over the last 25 years. In the 1990s, relative to the rest of Melbourne, Northcote was classified as a low socio-economic area.[3] During the 1996 to 2006 decade, the number of two earner households rose by ten percentage points; the share of households in the top income quintile went from 14 to 19 per cent; and, quite remarkably, the percentage of persons age 15 years and above with a Bachelor’s degree or high rose from 14 to 27 per cent (a much greater increase than experience by Melbourne as a whole). As a result, property prices have significantly increased. In 2008, the median house price in Northcote was $677,500. According to the latest REIV study, the median house price is now $885,000, representing a 26.2% increase in the last five years.[4] In 2011, a report from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute at Swinburne and Monash universities revealed Northcote had experienced the most intense gentrification of any Melbourne suburb in recent years. Northcote is one of only four Melbourne suburbs whose median house price is currently at an all-time peak.[5] This has resulted in a significant change in the demographics of the suburb. Whilst most see gentrification as positive, it has also had some negative effects. An AHURI report states that between 2001 and 2006, almost 35 per cent of the members of vulnerable groups, including low-income households, single parent families and immigrants, had moved out of the area.

The 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics census shows that the five most common professions of residents living in Northcote are:

  • Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (14.5%)
  • Health Care & Social Assistance (12.4%)
  • Education & Training (12.2%)
  • Retail & Trade (7.3%)
  • Public Administration & Safety (7.2%)

Since 2006, the most significant increases in occupation have come from those working in professional and managerial roles, with less residents now living in Northcote employed in manual labour positions. As a result, residents of Northcote now earn on average $1536 a week, $200 per week higher than the Melbourne average.[6] These changes in the population and demographics of Northcote have reinvigorated the local economy and the economies of the greater Darebin area, with increases in the amount of cafes, bars, restaurants and other small businesses operating currently in the region. Estimates suggest that the greater Darebin area has seen its Gross Regional Product increase by $1 billion in the last 10 years, to $5.23 billion.[7]

This population shift has also altered the transportation use patterns of Northcote residents. 17.6% of Northcote residents catch the Train to work each day, 10% higher than the Victorian average. 38.9% of Northcote residents drive to work, compared to the Victorian average of 61.6%. Northcote also has a very high bicycle usage rate, with 10% of residents bicycling to work, compared to 1.2% in the rest of Victoria. Northcote residents are on average also more likely to do some form of Volunteering, are more likely to have a Tertiary degree or higher and are 20% more likely to live in Medium/High density housing.[8][9]

Demographically, Northcote has a rich cultural makeup of residents and had strong influxes of migrants from Greece and Italy in the 1950s following World War II. 68.9% of residents in Northcote were born in Australia. However, 54% of those residents born in Australia had at least one parent born overseas, and 38.7% had both parents born overseas. This reflects the large numbers of second-generation families living in the area.[10]

The most common languages spoken in Northcote other than English are:

  • Greek (9.5%)
  • Italian (4.5%)
  • Vietnamese (1.2%)
  • Arabic (1.0%)
  • Mandarin (1.0%)

Northcote also has one of Melbourne's largest Lesbian communities. Northcote has a strong local music scene and community, with venues such as the Northcote Social Club.

Public spaces[edit]

All Nations Park[edit]

All Nations Park is located adjacent to the Northcote Plaza Shopping Centre (which itself opened in October 1981 at the site of the old brickworks).

All Nations Park is a contemporary 13 hectare regional park created on the site of the former 'Northcote Landfill'. As the park is constructed on a former landfill, the rubbish still remaining in the site will was sealed beneath a compacted clay ‘cap’. There are also vents built into the ground to vent the gases produced by the landfill underneath, which prevents pressure under the soil from building up and causing a potential explosion.[11]

There are skating facilities, as well as basketball courts, play equipment and picnic facilities. There is a lot of open space which many people use to fly kites and exercise their dogs. There is also a large native garden giving special attention to plants indigenous to the area, and a series of ponds.

The park was also the location of a December 2008 shooting involving police and a 15-year-old boy named Tyler Cassidy. Cassidy was shot several times and died on location.,[12] Tyler Cassidy is the youngest person to have been killed by Police in Australia.

Batman Park[edit]

Batman Park is also the name of a 1.6 hectares (4.0 acres) metropolitan park. It was purchased by the Northcote Council in 1907, and is recognised for its historical significance as the second oldest park in Northcote.[13] It hosts many established trees for shade and is close to buses, trains and trams.

The existing design of the formal entrance, stonewalls, drinking fountain, path layout and garden beds are part of a grand redevelopment plan of an unknown designer undertaken in the 1950s. Mature trees are the principal defining element of the park providing interest and shade throughout the year. There is also a kindergarten of the same name located in the park that has been in continuous operation for over 50 years.

Johnson Park[edit]

Johnson Park is a popular large neighbourhood park of almost two hectares. The land Johnson Park occupies was purchased by the former city of Northcote in 1859. The traditional owners of land where Johnson Park stands today are the Wurundjeri-Willampatriliny people. In 1913, five acres was bought in Bastings Street on the flat low-lying basalt soils between Rucker Hill and Darebin Creek. Originally known as the East Ward Park, it was slowly transformed into what was to become Johnson Park today. Johnson Park has large areas of lawn and mature trees ideal for picnics. Also included in the park are a large rotunda picnic area, barbecue facilities, toilets and a good playground for both young children and teenagers. The playground includes spider web, swings, challenging climbing frames and slides.[14]


The state seat of Northcote is held by Fiona Richardson, member of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the federal seat of Batman, which covers Northcote, is held by David Feeney, also from the ALP. The State seat of Northcote is one of the safest Labor seats in the entire country and has been held by the Labor party continuously since 1927. In fact, since 1927, there have only been five members of Parliament for the seat of Northcote, meaning on average each member has sat for 17 years, relatively unheard of in politics.

At the 2010 state elections, Labor safely won the seat again with 60.63% of the votes after preferences.[15] The second most popular party in Northcote after Labor is the Australian Greens party, which received 30.85% of the votes in 2010. This is attributed to the fact that Northcote has been a long-time home to environmentalists, artists, social activists and workers from community services sectors.

The ALP in Northcote has been the subject of a number of academic studies. Ethnic branches were established in Northcote during 1975, the first in Victoria.[16] The first branches were Westgarth, a Greek branch, and Croxton, an Italian branch.[17] An additional Greek branch, Northcote East, was also established in the area.[18]


The area surrounding Northcote is home to local sporting teams:


Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Northcote (State Suburb)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Timeline [of events on 11 December 2008]". The Sydney Morning Herald. 12 December 2008. 
  13. ^ Darebin City Council
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Andrew Lemon, (1983), The Northcote Side of the River, Hargreen Publishing Company, North Melbourne, p.268 . ISBN 0-949905-12-7
  17. ^ Lyle Allan (1978), 'Ethnic Politics - Migrant Organization and the Victorian ALP', Ethnic Studies, Vol.2, No.2, pp.21-31
  18. ^ Lyle Allan (1985), 'Ethnic Politics in the ALP', in P.R. Hay, J.Halligan, J.Warhurst, B. Costar (eds.), Essays on Victorian Politics, Warrnambool Institute Press, p.136 ISBN 0949759066
  19. ^ Full Points Footy, Northern Football League, retrieved 15 April 2009 
  20. ^ Golf Select, Northcote, retrieved 11 May 2009 
  21. ^ Josie Arnold (1985), Mother Superior Woman Inferior, Dove Communications, Blackburn (Victoria)
  22. ^
  23. ^ Lyle Allan (2000), 'Ethnic Recruitment or Ethnic Branch Stacking? Factionalism and Ethnicity in the Victorian ALP,' People and Place, Vol.8,No.1, page 29
  24. ^ Simon Smith (2009), Maverick Litigants. A History of Vexatious Litigants in Australia 1930-2008, Maverick Publications, Elwood, Victoria, Ch. 7
  25. ^ Elisabetta D'Amore (1994), 'Italian Political Activism in Australia Post 1950s,' in Antonina Bivona (ed.) Proceedings of Italian Towards 2000 International Conference, 22–24 September, Victoria University of Technology, Melbourne, pp.107-112
  26. ^ Rex Harcourt and John Mulvaney (2005), Cricket walkabout: the Aboriginal cricketers of the 1860s, Golden Point Press, Blackburn South ISBN 0-9757673-0-5
  27. ^ Andrew Lemon (1983), op.cit. p.268
  28. ^ Lyle Allan (2004), 'Changing the political landscape. A history of Darebin Greeks and their political involvement,' Neos Kosmos English Edition, Darebin Special, 20 December, p.8
  29. ^ Lemon, op.cit., p.268

External links[edit]