Greensborough is a residential suburb 17 km north-east of central Melbourne, situated on the Plenty River.

Land sales

The land around Greensborough is hilly, and during Port Phillip's pastoral expansion it was not highly sought after apart from the areas adjoining streams or other well watered areas. The section comprising most of present day Greensborough was purchased by Henry Smythe who sold it in 1841 to Edward Green, soldier, squatter and mail contractor. Green had various contracts for the carriage of mail to the western and north-western districts together with the service to Yass and Sydney. Although not occupying his land, Green had a town surveyed, overlooking the river, allegedly as a staging place for his re-routed mail contract. That did not eventuate, but land sales occurred and the ‘township’ was called Greenborough, later Greensborough.

In January 1859, the Greensborough Road District was formed. By 1868 Greensborough had an Anglican church with a primary school (1855), a store, a post office, a hotel and a local population of about 200. The Road District's population was about 670. In January 1875, the Roads Board succeeded in amalgamating its area with Heidelberg Shire, motivated by its difficulties in maintaining the roads. A State primary school replaced the Anglican one in 1878. Despite the Anglicans' early role in education, the Wesleyans were the largest denomination. Greensborough continued to be an agricultural place.

Rural Town

In 1902 the railway line was extended from Heidelberg to Eltham, with a station at Greensborough. The township's estimated population was about 270. Greensborough was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

There was a steady growth of population after the railway extension, but the area was predominantly rural until the postwar years because of the undeveloped areas suitable for inter-war housing closer to Melbourne. In 1933 when Greensborough's population was around 1000 it was a picturesque township and horticultural district with the additional facilities of a bank branch, a hall, park and a golf links. Greensborough was part of Heidelberg Shire and the Progress Association from 1913 onwards kept up intermittent pressure for severance.

A short way south of Greensborough central, but within its postcode and in Eltham Shire until 1994, is Briar Hill. The Briar Hill primary school was opened in 1927.

Urban Growth

In 1942 the Diamond Valley Community Hospital was opened in Greensborough, with links to Dr Don Cordner and in turn to the Cordner family of footballers in the Diamond Valley Association (1922). In 1961 a referendum favoured severance of the Greensborough and Diamond Valley region from Heidelberg Shire, and in October 1964, the Diamond Valley Shire was created with offices in Greensborough. The 1960s were the beginning of Greensborough's sustained growth: schools were opened in nearby Watsonia (primary, 1959 and high, 1962), and the Greenhills primary school in 1962. Watsonia Heights primary school (1966) is in Greensborough. Within four years it had an enrolment of over 900. The enrolment in 2011 was a modest 193. The Main Street shopping centre was an active strip, but in 1978 the adjoining Greensborough Plaza was opened. With Coles and Kmart occupying over 10,000 square metres and a Myer department store opening in 1996, the centre's total lettable area was 53,000 square metres.

The Greensborough bypass road skirts Greensborough's western edge and then turns east across the Plenty River through the more recent 1980s housing area. By the mid-1990s there were five State primary schools, two denominational schools, the Greensborough secondary college (on the site of the former Watsonia technical school which opened in 1958), and a campus of the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE. There are numerous reserves along the Plenty River Valley and linear reserves branching from it. Nearly all the shopping is found in the sub-regional plaza, with only a few small neighbourhood shopping areas. As well as Anglican, Catholic and Uniting churches there are Lutheran and Serbian Orthodox churches in the north of Greensborough.

In 1994 when local councils were amalgamated the boundary between Banyule city and Nillumbik Shire was the east-west part of the Greensborough bypass (1988), dividing the Greensborough residential area in two.

Greensborough's census populations have been:

census date population
1871 167
1881 188
1891 234
1911 483
1921 665
1933 940
2001 21,593
2006 20,214
2011 20,552

Further Reading

Dianne H. Edwards, The Diamond Valley story, Shire of Diamond Valley, 1994

Irene Turvey and Ron Reynolds, Greensborough and Greenhills, Cypress Books, 1973

Green and growing 150 years: historical snapshots of All Saints Anglican church Greensborough, Greensborough, 2005