Coburg North

Coburg North is a residential suburb 9 km north of central Melbourne. It is between Gaffney Street, Coburg and Boundary Road, Fawkner. Its western boundary is Sussex Street and its eastern boundary is Elizabeth Street, beyond Edgars Creek.

The area which became Coburg North was originally two farm allotments (1840) each of about one square mile, separated by the Merri Creek. The eastern part became the site of Coburg's second settlement, Newlands, across the Merri Creek from Pentridge (Coburg village). It had frontages to the Merri and Edgars Creeks but was distant from tram and railway services. It had a community of market gardeners, dairy and poultry farmers until after World War II. The farms were a source of pollution, and the lake reserve on the Merri Creek was closed to swimming in 1932 when a child died from an infected cut.

Coburg North had large acreages for industry. The Lincoln knitting mill (1916) was an early arrival, taking advantage of a site in Gaffney Street between Dawson Street and Williams Road, a short walk from the Batman railway station (1914) and the Sydney Road tram (electrified 1916). The Beaucaire textile mill in Sydney Road opened in 1927. By then the Merlynston housing estate in the north of Coburg North was being settled, and its school opened in 1928.

The area bounded by Gaffney Street, Sydney Road, Shorts Road and Sussex Street was Coburg's industry zone, a source of employment for thousands of residents. In the postwar years Berger Paints employed 400 workers, Gadsden's can-making 1000 workers and Kodak (1961) in the Newlands area employed 2000 in its peak production period.

The Coburg North State primary school opened in 1937 (214 pupils, 2014). Recreation space was provided along the Merri Creek, and the Coburg Cycling Club (1896) ran events near the Richards Reserve where a velodrome was later established. The Olympic swimming pool in Murray Road opened in 1965.

Coburg North's industrial environment was reflected in the local secondary schooling: Coburg Tech (1954-92) on the south side of Gaffney Street and the Northern Suburbs Motor school (now Kangan TAFE) near the Batman railway station.

Coburg North was settled by postwar migration as well as Australian families who moved in search of new homes. Italian and Greek migrants came in large numbers, and a Catholic girls' college opened in Sydney Road in 1966. Later middle eastern arrivals led to the Islamic Australian International Academy opening in 1995 on the former Merlynston school site.

Manufacturing declined, the Lincoln mill site being an early casualty. A shopping centre replaced it, the first in Coburg North to rival the Sydney Road shops in Coburg. The Coburg drive-in theatre (1965) did not decline. A rare survivor, it is now heritage listed.

Coburg North's census populations have been:

census date population
2001 6262
2006 6064
2011 6576

Among the languages spoken at home as recorded at the 2011 census there were:

language % of residents
  coburg north victoria
Italian 11.2 2.3
Arabic  5.5 1.3
Greek  6.0 2.2

Further Reading

Richard Broome, Coburg: between two creeks, 1987, 2001

Merlynston and Newlands entries