City of Whittlesea

Coordinates: 37°33′S 145°05′E / 37.550°S 145.083°E / -37.550; 145.083
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City of Whittlesea
Map of Melbourne showing City of Whittlesea
Population223,322 (2018)[1] (21st)
 • Density456/km2 (1,180/sq mi)
Area490 km2 (189.2 sq mi)[1]
Mayorposition vacant
Council seatSouth Morang
RegionGreater Melbourne
State electorate(s)
Federal division(s)
WebsiteCity of Whittlesea
LGAs around City of Whittlesea:
Mitchell Mitchell Murrindindi
Hume City of Whittlesea Nillumbik
Merri-bek Darebin Banyule

The City of Whittlesea is a local government area located in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. The city covers an area of 490 square kilometres (189.2 sq mi), and in June 2018, it had a population of 223,322.[1]


What became the City of Whittlesea had its origins in two separate roads districts (an early, single-purpose form of local government). The first, Whittlesea Roads District, was incorporated on 12 December 1862. On 1 January 1875 it was amalgamated with the Merriang riding of the Shire of Darebin to create the Shire of Whittlesea.[2] The second, Epping Roads District, was incorporated on 21 July 1870. It was then enlarged on 11 January 1859 and then again on 25 July 1864 to cover the Northcote area. On 26 September 1870 it was merged with Merriang Roads District, Upper Plenty Roads District and Woodstock Roads District to form the Shire of Darebin. Part of the Shire of Derebin was then excised to create the Shire of Jika in 1872, and, as stated above, Merriang riding was merged with the Whittlesea Roads District to form the Shire of Whittlesea in 1875. The Shire of Darebin was renamed the Shire of Epping on 22 March 1894. On 1 October 1915, the Shire of Epping was absorbed by the Shire of Whittlesea[3] as part of a restructuring of local government outside the Melbourne metropolitan area in Victoria.[4]

On 31 May 1955, parts of the City of Broadmeadows were annexed to Shire of Whittlesea and the neighbouring Shire of Bulla.[citation needed] The population grew rapidly as urbanisation reached the southern edge of the shire. In 1979 an internal redistribution took place creating the four ridings based on population and on 30 March 1988 it was proclaimed by the Governor of Victoria as a City, effective from 15 April of that year. Until the amalgamations of the mid-1990s, the City was 598.3 square kilometres (231.0 sq mi) in size.[5]

On 15 December 1994, massive local government reform once again affected Whittlesea's boundaries, although unlike most, the City survived largely intact. 18% of its land area was ceded to entities created in 1994 – the Doreen and Arthurs Creek districts were lost to the new Shire of Nillumbik, while Kinglake West went to Shire of Murrindindi and Somerton to the City of Hume.[6]

Until April 1993, the council met at the Shire Office at High Street and Houston Street, Epping, next to the primary school. In that month, it moved to its present headquarters in Ferres Boulevard, South Morang. The original premises in Epping is now a council depot.

The City of Whittlesea is a culturally diverse community with the 2011 Census recording that 38.3% of residents were born overseas.[7]

Whittlesea 2040 is a long term vision for the City and guides the Council's work and future partnerships with the community and others.[8]

History of the main suburbs[edit]


The traditional owners of the land now known as Bundoora were probably the Wurundjeri-willam clan.[9] Bundoora was named after Keelbundoora, which was the name of the parish (land) where Bundoora exists today. Keelbundoora was also the name of the young boy present at the signing of the Batman treaty, a historic land agreement made by European settler, John Batman with the Aboriginal people of Melbourne in 1835. The treaty was later ruled invalid by the government of the day. Only a small part of Bundoora is within the City of Whittlesea boundary, the rest of the suburb is served by Darebin City Council and Banyule City Council.


Lalor was established in 1947. Lalor was originally the home of a low-cost housing project that provided houses for ex-servicemen returning from World War II. The first primary school opened in 1954.


Legend has it that Thomastown was named after a local settler called Thomas who started a popular market garden in 1848. It was more than likely named after Thomastown in Ireland, a parish and market town in the County of Kilkenny, or a station on the Waterford to Kilkenny Junction railway. Thomastown East Primary school was opened in 1961.


Epping was named after the Epping Forest in Essex, England in 1853. The first hotel opened the same year. The first Catholic school was opened in 1844.

South Morang[edit]

South Morang is named after the Parish (or area) of Morang where the suburb exists today. The first primary school in South Morang was built in 1877 and the suburb has two major parks, Hawkstowe and Plenty Gorge Parklands. The former Whittlesea railway line used to run through South Morang, as in many other suburbs in the municipality.


Whittlesea, as the township came to be called, was named after Whittlesey in England. Close to 1889 a railway from Whittlesea to Melbourne was established to transport goods produced in the region to Melbourne. The railway closed in 1959.

Mill Park[edit]

Mill Park was named after Henry "Money" Miller who bred racehorses and conducted a range of dairy and grazing activities at his property named The Findon Hounds and the Findon Harriers Hunt Club until 1930. Residential development began in Mill Park in the 1970s.


This area has grown from a population of 1316 in 2001 to 3430 in 2006, and is anticipated to grow to around 40,000 people at full development. The name Mernda means "young girl" in the local Wurundjeri Aboriginal language. When Mernda was named in 1913 the township consisted of a school, a Methodist church, a store and a railway station. In the early 1900s there were many dairy farms in Mernda that supplied milk to Melbourne.


Historically, Shire of Whittlesea was divided into four ridings, each electing three councillors. When it became a City in 1988, these were converted into wards:

  • Centre Ward (formerly Yan Yean Riding, then Central Riding)
  • East Ward (formerly Morang Riding, then South East Riding)
  • West Ward (formerly Thomastown Riding, then South West Riding)
  • North Ward (formerly Whittlesea Riding, then North Riding)

Over a number of elections there have been changes to the number of wards and councillors. In 1994 Whittlesea was re-subdivided into nine wards, each with one councillor. At the 2005 election the Victorian Electoral Commission reviewed the ward boundaries and composition. This resulted in three wards, each electing three councillors.

At the 2012 General Election the three wards were retained, however changes were made to ward boundaries to reflect the municipality's growing population. In total eleven councillors were elected:

  • North Ward (3 councillors)
  • South-East Ward (4 councillors)
  • South-West Ward (4 councillors)

Townships and localities[edit]

The 2021 census, the city had a population of 229,396 up from 197,491 in the 2016 census[10]

Locality 2016 2021
Beveridge^ 2,330 4,642
Bundoora^ 28,653 28,068
Donnybrook 169 2,100
Doreen^ 21,298 27,122
Eden Park 1,204 1,194
Epping 32,395 33,489
Humevale 307 352
Kinglake West^ 1,166 1,305
Lalor 22,594 23,219
Mernda 16,458 23,369
Mill Park 29,710 28,712
South Morang 24,060 24,989
Thomastown 20,523 20,234
Whittlesea 5,611 6,117
Wollert 9,060 24,407
Woodstock 150 150
Yan Yean^ 252 246

^ - Territory divided with another LGA


Year Population
1954 5,724
1958 8,350*
1961 11,490
1966 16,713
1971 30,327
1976 48,039
1981 65,657
1986 79,182
1991 95,672
1996 101,691
2001 113,784
2006 124,647
2011 154,880[11]
2016 197,491[12]
2021 229,396


After a three-month investigation into administrative and governing issues, on 20 March 2020 the Victorian state government dismissed Whittlesea council and replaced them with three administrators who will govern for four years.[13]

The next elections will not take place till October 2024. The last election, in October 2016, was a general election for the Whittlesea City Council conducted by the Victorian Electoral Commission.

Council is currently led by Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson, supported by Administrators Peita Duncan and Chris Eddy.

Ward Party Councillor Notes
North   - position vacant
  - position vacant
  - position vacant
South-East   - position vacant
  - position vacant
  - position vacant
  - position vacant
South-West   - position vacant
  - position vacant
  - position vacant
  - position vacant

Previous mayors[edit]

There have been 21 mayors of Whittlesea since 1997. The mayor is elected yearly from amongst the elected councillors to serve as leader of the council.


  1. ^ a b c "3218.0 – Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2017-18: Population Estimates by Local Government Area (ASGS 2018), 2017 to 2018". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Bureau of Statistics. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 25 October 2019. Estimated resident population, 30 June 2018.
  2. ^ Context Pty Ltd (September 2013). City of Whittlesea Heritage Study, Volume 1: Thematic environmental history (PDF) (Report). p. 48. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  3. ^ Victorian Municipal Directory. Arnall & Jackson. 1915. p. 439.
  4. ^ Context Pty Ltd (September 2013). City of Whittlesea Heritage Study, Volume 1: Thematic environmental history (PDF) (Report). p. 48. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  5. ^ Victorian Municipal Directory. Brunswick: Arnall & Jackson. 1992. pp. 528–529. Accessed at State Library of Victoria, La Trobe Reading Room.
  6. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (1 August 1995). Victorian local government amalgamations 1994–1995: Changes to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (PDF). Commonwealth of Australia. pp. 7, 10, 12. ISBN 0-642-23117-6. Retrieved 16 December 2007.
  7. ^ "Australian Bureau of Statistics - Population/People". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  8. ^ "Whittlesea 2040: A place for all". City of Whittlesea. Retrieved 16 May 2019.
  9. ^ Kenna, Len (1988). In The Beginning There Was Only The Land. Bundoora, Victoria: The Lions Club. p. 14. ISBN 0731623185.
  10. ^ "Census | Australian Bureau of Statistics". 11 January 2023.
  11. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Whittlesea (Local Government Area)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 22 June 2012. Edit this at Wikidata
  12. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "Whittlesea (C)". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 July 2017. Edit this at Wikidata
  13. ^ "Parliament dismisses the Council". City of Whittlesea. 19 March 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Jones, Michael Nature's Plenty: a history of the City of Whittlesea, Sydney, N.S.W. Allen & Unwin, 1992 ISBN 1863730761

External links[edit]

37°33′S 145°05′E / 37.550°S 145.083°E / -37.550; 145.083