Alphington is a residential suburb immediately north of the Yarra River, 7 km north-east of central Melbourne. On its west is Fairfield and on its east is Ivanhoe.
Farm-size land sales in Alphington coincided with those in the Northcote and Fairfield district in 1840. Most of Alphington was bought by three persons. Most easterly, Thomas Wills bought 71 ha running down to the river where the Latrobe golf club is now situated. He built the 'Lucerne' homestead (1840-1960), but soon disposed of it and built the grander 'Willsmere' on the other side of the river in Kew. The westerly purchaser was the Howitt brothers, important Port Phillip and post gold-rush personalities. Howitt thought the ‘situation delicious and the slopes most graceful’. The purchaser of the middle portion was Charles Roemer, who soon on-sold, but his name is commemorated in Roemer Crescent, off Lucerne Crescent.
The purchaser of Roemer's land was Sir William Manning who, recognising the place's potential for a resting place between Melbourne and Heidelberg, laid out a village and named it after his birthplace in Devonshire. By 1865 Alphington was mainly occupied by market gardens, and vineyards, with a post office, butcher, baker, general store and two hotels, one being the Darebin Bridge. The Heidelberg Road was a route to gold diggings at St Andrews and in upper Gippsland. The Wesleyan Chapel was built in 1859 and survives as part of the Uniting Church's group of buildings.
By the 1880s the speculative potential of Alphington land attracted attention, and the Government built a short railway line from Clifton Hill to Alphington (but lacking railway connection from Clifton Hill to Melbourne or anywhere else). The next year Alphington was in the midst of two proposed, but circuitous, railway connections: from Heidelberg, and from Oakleigh via the land-booming Outer Circle line, but both reaching Melbourne by a westerly loop to the Spencer Street station. In a few years' time land sales for houses were promoted - for Gentlemen's Residences and, to the north, for the Working Man. A few large villas were built. The Tower Hotel at the corner of Heidelberg and Old Heidelberg Roads, was built in 1891. A direct railway journey via Jolimont to Melbourne began in 1901.
The Ivanhoe and Alphington Progress Association promoted the district at the turn of the century (both were in Heidelberg shire), noting that Alphington had a fine navigable river, good fishing, and an excellent public hall and tennis courts (1908).
In 1919 Alphington's most public group of buildings was begun when the Australian Paper Mills bought the Woodlands estate beside the Chandler Highway (former Outer Circle railway line). Its first machine, mainly making board for containers, ran from the opening of the factory in 1921 until 1971. Water was pumped from the Yarra River for paper making. A railway siding brought in waste paper for recycling. The mill was criticised for unacceptable air and water emissions, and the company was obliged to apply environmental controls. It was decommissioned in 2011 and the 16 ha site rezoned for residential living, but the company did not fully vacate the site until late 2012 after it sustained a number of fires and a toxic spill into the Yarra. After its sale in 2013 the Alphington Paper Mill Action Group lobbied for height restrictions on the new development, setbacks from the Yarra River and the inclusion of community and educational facilities.
Alphington has a varied building stock extending from the 1890s to the interwar period. It has a small shopping centre on Heidelberg Road, Alphington Park with a bowling club and oval, the Alphington primary school (1885) (391 pupils, 2014), a Catholic primary school (1919) and Alphington Grammar School (1989) established by the Greek Orthodox community. South of the school there is the Latrobe Golf Club (c1938), bordered on two sides by the Yarra River.
Lucerne Crescent, in the Lucerne Estate (1885), has several grand villas, some designed by Desbrowe Annear. Artists William McInnes and Jock Frater lived there. Alphington's eastern border includes the Darebin Parklands on Darebin Creek.
Alphington's median house price in 1987 was 17% above the median for metropolitan Melbourne and in 1996 it was 67% above the metropolitan median. At the 2011 census resident's median incomes were 47% above the Victorian median and 42% of employed residents were classified as professional (Victoria 22.3%).
Alphington's census populations have been:
|Alphington including Fairfield||1881||1114|
Graeme Butler, ‘Northcote urban conservation study’, 1983
Andrew Lemon, ‘The Northcote side of the river’, City of Northcote in conjunction with Hargren Publishing Company, 1983
Northcote, ‘Glimpses of our Past’, Northcote Historical and Conservation Society, 1988
Sarah Mirams, Darebin parklands: escaping the claws of the machine, Melbourne, 2011