Ever wondered about the history of places in the state of Victoria (Australia) that you know, want to visit or research? This public website produced by Monash University, in association with the University of Queensland, creates an authentic, reliable and scholarly website that will answer your questions. The website combines original research with newly digitised historical sources and unique images to give a comprehensive view of each place and its history.
More than two decades of research and writing have now gone into Victorian Places. Commenced in the mid-1990s as a project based in the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University funded by the Australian Research Council, the project has been updated and adapted to take advantage of the Places database model developed at the University of Queensland. Based on the successful and popular Queensland Places (www.queenslandplaces.com.au) website first published in 2009, Victorian Places now makes Victoria only the second state to have such a comprehensive database available on its many settlements.
Victorian Places aims to provide an historical and current assessment of all settlements in Victoria and addresses both metropolitan and regional growth issues in a readily useable fashion. It includes over 1600 entries (headwords) on Victorian settlements that now have or once had populations of 200 or more at any census. The entries include cities, towns, villages, suburbs and shires both old and new. It includes suburbs not only for Melbourne but for regional cities as well. The entries weave the story of place using extracts from gazetteers and handbooks and are illustrated with a wide range of images including historical postcards, recent photographs and tourist promotional material.
These entries reflect the European occupation of Victoria from the nineteenth century. The cities, towns, villages and suburbs in this database are largely the creation of European settlers, but of course many of the settlements appropriated Aboriginal lands. The origin of many place names throughout Victoria relies heavily on Aboriginal naming and we have drawn on Daniel Bunce, Language of the Aborigines of the Colony of Victoria (1859) among other sources for these. We do not attempt to outline the Indigenous history of the landscape before European occupation, a vast area of rapidly advancing scholarship, but we point to a number of sources that readers can consult about this, including the Atlas of Indigenous Australia (2005) and the Encyclopaedia of Aboriginal Australia (1994), Sue Wesson, An Historical Atlas of the Aborigines of Eastern Victoria (2000), Richard Broome, Aboriginal Victorians: A history since 1800 (2005) and Gary Presland, First people (2010). We include entries on all the Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) throughout Victoria and we attempt, where current sources allow, to comment on Indigenous/European relations, especially in those towns that were near missions.
Criteria for inclusion
The primary criterion for inclusion in Victorian Places is that the local government area of city, town, village or suburb once had or now has a population of 200 or more, as measured at colonial censuses in the nineteenth century and Commonwealth Government censuses since 1911. We rely on these census figures as the most authoritative source, but because censuses in the nineteenth century were only held every ten years, and in recent times held every five years, they do not always pick up settlements that had a brief but short-lived population burst. Nonetheless, we have entries on most of the gold mining settlements where the population was often very short lived.
We also have entries on the broad regions of Victoria. These regional entries are not always readily defined, geographically, not least because the regional nomenclature has changed over time, and we are gradually moving from regional names based on exploration and then administration, to the notion of bio-regions, where the boundaries can be quite indistinct.
Sources for Victorian Places
All material on this website is original, except where extracts from historic handbooks are used and these are clearly identified. Sources for all the longer entries are listed at the end of each entry. Most of the entries draw on published sources, especially local histories. These are of variable quality and variable reliability, and until recently have usually contained very little information or analysis about prior Indigenous occupation, or the Indigenous history of the settlement after its formal naming as part of the European occupation of Victoria. These local histories themselves may contain errors, and we welcome corrections, preferably with evidence, such as a newspaper reference.
For many of the shorter entries, especially for the postwar suburbs, no published sources exist because no one has yet written books about these places. For these entries we have been reliant on websites, newscuttings and similar sources, but these have not been listed unless we have deemed them to be of sufficient depth to provide further reading about the place.
All entries drawn on a range of common sources including William Henry Wills, A geographical dictionary or gazetteer of the Australian colonies (1848), William Fairfax, Handbook to Australasia (1859), Daniel Bunce, Language of the Aborigines of the Colony of Victoria (1859), Bailliere’s Victorian gazetteer (1865), Australian handbook (1873-1903), Victorian municipal directory (1930), Australian blue book (1946). Extracts from these sources appear where appropriate.
All images featured on this website are copyright and come from private collections and have been digitised especially for this website. Due to licensing and administrative arrangements copies cannot be provided of any images on this website for other purposes nor permission for use given.
Copyright in the entries is jointly held by Monash University and the University of Queensland. Individual entries may be quoted with the appropriate attribution, but the database itself cannot be replicated without permission.
How to cite
We recommend that entries be cited in the following format using the permanent URL of each entry and the date of access, eg.‘Abbotsford’, Victorian Places, 2014, www.victorianplaces.com.au/abbotsford, accessed on DD/MM/YYYY
- General Editors
- Professor Peter Spearritt and Dr Marion Stell
- Research and Writing
- John Young and Peter Spearritt
- Web and Database Development
- Hank Szeto (Thinking Cap Consulting)
- Graphic Design
- John Reid (LoveHate Design)
- Graphic Elements
- Exterior tram image: W Class Tram St Kilda, 2005 by Joe Bennett, from Wikimedia Commons.
- Interior tram image: ghatamos, Inside a Tram. Photographed @ Hawthorn Tram Depot during Melbourne open house 2013,
- used with permission.
- Background: ‘The stately 12 Apostles’, and ‘London Bridge’, nd, Copyright © Murray Views Collection.
- Tram Font: Cutts Tram Font by Hannah Cutts, used with permission.
- The following people have assisted the project:
- Margaret Spier, Narelle Yarrow, Rod Murray, Megan Young, Emma Szwedzinski, Shona Louis, Meredith Fletcher, Linda Kennett, Mike Williams, Marian Quigley, and Judy Scurfield, Map Librarian, State Library of Victoria.