An aerial view of Moonee Ponds, including the Moonee Ponds Junction, Pascoe Vale Road, Moonee Valley Racecourse, Queens Park, Mount Alexander Road, the Moonee Ponds Courthouse, St Thomas, the Essendon Town Hall (c. 1935).
Source: EHS Collection
James Robertson (1819-1895), a pastoralist, inherited Spring Hill from his father where he built a large residence, near the present western side of Aberfeldie Street and its intersection with Park Street, around 1865. He named the homestead Aberfeldie after the small market town, Aberfeldy in his father’s homeland, Scotland. When the estate was subdivided in 1888, it was called Aberfeldie Estate.
Read Fine Homes to learn more about James Robertson’s Aberfeldie.
Formerly known as Spring Park Estate, then Essendon, the locality is named because it is immediately west of Essendon Airport.
With the local links to the racing industry, the locality was named for Ascot, the famous English racecourse.
John Thomas Smith (1816-1879), a publican and seven-time Mayor of Melbourne, erected his country residence, Ascot, in 1855. The fine home in Bank Street East, Ascot House, was offered for sale on October 23, 1909, as part of the 109-lot Ascot Estate.
Patrick Higgins (1825-1882) purchased 10 acres along Maribyrnong Road and Ascot Vale Road in 1855, then called The Knoll. When his property was first put up for sale in 1866, it was called Ascot-Vale House. Higgins was a railway contractor involved in the Essendon railway line.
It is believed that the first use of “Ascot Vale” was with the Railway Station which opened on November 1, 1860.
The Ascot Vale Housing Estate was built on the site previously occupied by the Ascot Racecourse, which had been opened by John Wren in 1893, which was closed down and then compulsorily acquired by the Victorian Government for the Housing Commission in March 1946.
Read Fine Homes to learn more about The Knoll and J. T. Smith’s Ascot and the subsequent Ascot House.
Originally known as Braybrook Village, the name is probably derived from Avondale House and Estate, County Wicklow in Ireland. There is also a historic Avondale House in Falkirk, Scotland. Avondale Heights Post Office opened on December 9, 1957.
The area between the Showgrounds and the Saltwater River was known as Bagotville, named after Robert Cooper Bagot, the first Secretary of the Victoria Racing Club. He owned property including Fisher Parade, Leonard Avenue and Watson Terrace. After his death in 1881, the land was subdivided and offered for sale as the Bagotville Estate in 1882.
A Surveyor-General of the Port Phillip District (1837-1853), Robert Hoddle (1794-1881) named the western bank of Moonee Ponds Creek Doutta Galla. It corresponds roughly with the current boundaries of the City of Moonee Valley. The origin of this name is unknown, although theories abound:
- Daniel Bruce, a son-in-law of John Batman, claimed that Dutigalla was a corruption of “N’uthergalla,” a word used by the local Woiwurung people to describe the locality.
- Jika Jika, who worked with Batman, had a wife whose name was adapted to Doutta Galla; however, historians have cast doubt on this.
- Dutigalla was the name of an indigenous tribe on the original Batman Treaty, signed on the Merri Creek; however, there was no group of this name.
- The name was invented by Batman.
Richard Green (1808 -1878), a shipping merchant, named the district after the Essendon village in Hertfordshire, England. The Townships of Essendon and Hawstead were set out following a survey by Eugene Bellairs in the early 1850s and the name “Essendon” was first used in a newspaper report in December 1852. The Essendon Railway Station opened November 1, 1860.
WWI Renaming Attempt
There was concern during the Great War (1914-18) that the name “Essendon” may have had Germanic origins, connected with the City of Essen. Before the name was changed, it was determined that there was the Hertfordshire village called Essendon.
This postcard of Essendon, Hertfordshire, England was gifted to the City of Essendon.
Source: EHS Collection
The Aero Club established its base in 1919 at St Johns, North Essendon. On August 11, 1921, it was gazetted that “St John’s Field” had been acquired by the Commonwealth. This was renamed “Essendon Aerodrome” on August 7, 1923.
In 2001, the long-term lease to operate and develop Essendon Airport was acquired by Essendon Airport Pty Ltd and the locality was renamed “Essendon Fields.”
James Watson (1811 -1869), a squatter, purchased Crown allotments, bounded by Kent Street in the north and Racecourse Road in the south, extending from Ascot Vale Road to the Moonee Ponds Creek on March 20, 1848. He named his property “Flemington” after the property in Morayshire, Scotland owned by James Rose, the father of his late wife, Elizabeth.
Watson moved into a house in what today is known as Flemington Street. On his property, he built a hotel, several small shops and a blacksmith’s shop.
In April 1848, James Dunbar became the first licensee of the Flemington Hotel which was open for business.
On October 30, 1849, wealthy pastoralist, Hugh Glass (1816-1871) purchased the Flemington Estate. In 1856, Hugh Glass called tenders for the erection of a large two-storey residence, Flemington House. In 1899, the mansion and property were purchased by Henry Madden. This resulted in the house and area becoming “Travancore.”
As the principal bridge over Moonee Ponds Creek, it was originally known as the Mains Bridge for James Patrick Mains, a well-known contractor. Later, it became known as Flemington Road Bridge and, eventually, Flemington Bridge. It became the gateway to Flemington Village and the district.
On April 10, 1885, the railway station opened as Flemington before it was renamed Flemington Bridge on December 3 that same year. In 1906, Flemington Bridge became the interchange between the Essendon tram routes and the cable tramline to the City.
The first race meeting was held at Saltwater River Flat Racecourse in 1840 but the locality and race track was not called “Flemington” for some time. The Railway station opened 28 February 1861.
Previously known as Hawstead, the area was renamed to honour Theodore Napier (1845 -1924) and his family. When the new railway station was built between Essendon and North Essendon (Strathmore), it was proposed that the station be named Napier, but this was disallowed because of the prior existence of several places named Napier. The family originated from Marykirk, a small village in Aberdeenshire, so, when the station opened on September 11, 1922, it was named Glenbervie to honour the ancestral birthplace of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
Despite being born in Melbourne, Theodore Napier formed the Victorian Scottish Home Rule Association in 1891 and was often seen dressed in a kilt as he is here (c. 1906)
Source: EHS Collection (01282)
Hawstead once described the area between Brewster Street and Woodland Street with the township was laid out in the north-east corner – present-day Glenbervie. It originally was named after a village in Suffolk by Eugene Bellairs, a government surveyor, in 1852.
James Watson (1811 -1869), Crown grantee and squatter is thought to have named their home station after a farm called Keillor in Forfarshire, Scotland, one of four which his father, Hugh Watson, tenanted.
The licence for the Keilor Hotel was issued on 25 April 1843.
In November 1852, 78 allotments in the village of Kensington were offered for sale, named after the district in central London.
The Kensington Railway Station opened November 1, 1860.
In 1874, William Samuel Cox established Kensington Park Racecourse but relocated to Moonee Ponds in 1893 due to the lease not being renewed.
After European settlement, Melbourne’s western river was known as the Saltwater River. After representations from the Essendon River League, it was renamed the Maribyrnong River on February 21, 1913, by the Minister of Lands, Hon. H. McKenzie. The name was derived from the Wurundjeri language; Mirring-gnay-bir-nong, roughly translated, means “I can hear a ring-tail possum.”
Maribyrnong was, however, a well-established name prior to the river renaming. Joseph Raleigh owned the Maribyrnong Park Estate and there was a Maribyrnong Racecourse – both located on the western side of the river.
The origin of the name is uncertain. The Moonee Moonee Chain of Ponds, now known as Moonee Ponds Creek, was a key water feature of the Parish of Doutta Galla. The area near the creek was known as Moonee Moonee Ponds or Moonee Ponds district; this name referred to land on either side of the chain of ponds.
In 1837, Surveyor-General Robert Hoddle described the waterway as the Monee Monee Creek. One theory is that Moonee Moonee was a Wurundjeri willam man who died in service as a Native Police Corps member. There was a trooper of this name but also an older Moonee Moonee, a clan leader and probably his father who is more likely to be source of the creek’s name. In contemporary records, he is referred to as Mooney Mooney. Other alternatives include Indigenous language (the male personal pronoun “he”, a flat place, a lizard) and a Crown grantee, John Mooney, who owned land near the Moonee Valley racecourse. The description of the ponds as many flat places is more likely.
More info: Who was Moonee by Marilyn Kenny, Essendon Historical Journal, Autumn 2012.
The Moonee Ponds Railway Station opened on November 1, 1860.
On May 15, 1879, a public meeting of the ratepayers of Moonee Ponds was held to change the locality’s name with “Kaleno” being proposed. The renaming was Gazetted on June 6, 1879. Following objections from the Council who were not consulted and from other residents, the Gazette of September 29, 1879, rescinded the name change.
When William Samuel Cox (1831-1895) lease expired for Kensington Park Racecourse expired in 1882, he was forced to find a new site.
In 1883, he leased Feehan’s Farm in Moonee Ponds where he established a new racecourse which he called “Moonee Valley.” The “Moonee Valley Estate” was advertised for sale in 1913, but World War I intervened. In 1917, the Moonee Valley Racing Club was formed.
More than a century after the racecourse first opened, the City of Essendon and part of the City of Kensington were merged to form the City of Moonee Valley in 1994.
On August 30, 1858, land was granted for the establishment of the Melbourne City Abattoir and for the establishment of the Newmarket Saleyards. Opening in 1861, the area was named following the “old market” in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. The Newmarket Railway station opened on November 1, 1860, and, later, Prout’s Hotel was renamed the Newmarket Hotel.
Henry Brown Stevenson (1810–1893), a Scottish immigrant and agricultural insurance, land, stock and station agent, purchased 249 acres on Keilor Road in November 1869. Over the next three years, he built a homestead there and named it Niddrie after the suburb of Niddry in Edinburgh. The area was first listed as Niddrie in the Sands and McDougall Directory in 1959 before being officially named on May 2, 1966.
Read Fine Homes to learn more about Niddrie.
Originally, a part of the Bagotville Estate, the National Agricultural Society accepted a government offer of land to establish new showgrounds in Ascot Vale in 1882, and the first show occurred on December 21, 1883. The railway station opened November 7, 1883.
Originally known as part of North Essendon, one claim is that Strathmore was named by Frederick Hewitt who owned Magdala, Thomas Napier’s old home, in the interwar years.
The name, Strathmore, is derived from the Scottish heritage of Thomas Napier (1802-1881)’s Scottish heritage, the Valley of Strathmore.
The Uplands Road Church, built on the original Magdala Estate, North Essendon, was named Strathmore in 1938 in memory of Theodore Napier, the original landowner, whose family originated from Glenbervie, near Strathmore, and to honour the reigning queen, Elizabeth (nee Bowes-Lyon) who was a daughter of the Earl of Strathmore.
When it first opened on October 28, 1890, the local railway station was known as North Essendon, but it was renamed Strathmore on March 1, 1955, following a request from a Deputation of Broadmeadows Councillors.
The area on the west side of Union Road, bounded by Epsom Road and Maribyrnong Road, was subdivided into 359 villa lots in 1882 and advertised as “Temperance Township.”
The Temperance Movement, which was advocated for moderation with or abstinence from alcohol, reached a new peak of strength in the 1880s. Based on previous Temperance Townships overseas and in New South Wales, a covenant was placed on each block, forbidding the brewing of, storage or sale of alcoholic beverages. The streets were named after prominent members of the Temperance Movement or the Total Abstinence Society. Developers retaliated by erecting hotels outside but at each apex of the township – the Union Hotel, the Waterloo Cup Hotel and the now-demolished Grand National.
Temperance Hall was opened on April 29, 1891. The building was purchased by the St Mary’s Catholic Church in 1916 and then became known as St Mary’s Hall. Until it was destroyed by fire in February 1974, it was used as a church and school hall.
In 1899, the Flemington House mansion and property were purchased by Henry Madden (1855-1928). Having worked supplying horses to the Indian Army, Madden renamed his residence Travancore after the former Indian Princely State of Travancore. When subdividing the estate in 1918 as the Travancore Estate, Madden named the streets after Indian places. The Essendon Council approved the name for the residential district in 1925.
Read Fine Homes to learn more about Flemington House.
Bounded by Epsom Road, Langs Road, Doncaster Street and the Maribyrnong River, there are many theories on the origins of the name Whisky Hill, including:
- Whisky smugglers once sailed along the Maribyrnong River.
- There was once a still in Monash Street where residents of Temperance Township would gather on Sunday afternoons.
- Land agents once gifted a bottle of whisky to each successful purchaser of land in the Ascot Vale West area.
- Land sales often witnessed the consumption of large amounts of liquor.
To learn more about the Street Names of Moonee Valley, see Bob Chalmers’ publication Street Names of Essendon, Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale and Strathmore.
- Doutta Galla by Lenore Frost in the EHS Newsletter (No. 114, August 1992)
- Essendon by Bob Chalmers in the Essendon Historical Journal (Autumn 2010)
- Kaleno by Marilyn Kenny in the EHS Newsletter (No. 187, February 2007)
- Moonee by Marilyn Kenny in the Essendon Historical Journal, (Autumn 2012)