A spectacular tightrope act, including a highwire cyclist and acrobat on a trapeze, in Pridham Street, Flemington (c. 1901). In the background, behind the crowds of on-lookers, is E. & W. Shaw & Co. Grocers.
Source: EHS Collection (01602)

Before British settlement, the Wurundjeri were the original inhabitants.
February 2, 1803
Charles Grimes and James Fleming explore the Saltwater River as far as Solomon’s Ford.
November 9, 1836
John Batman grazed a flock of sheep in the Moonee Ponds District. The first sheep shorn in Melbourne were shorn on the banks of the Saltwater River near the land now occupied by the Flemington Racecourse.
December 11, 1837
Robert Hoddle instructs Surveyor Smythe to survey the Mone Mone Creek.
September 30, 1839
Hoddle instructs draftsman David Malcolm Kemp to divide up the Parish of Doutta Galla.
October 7, 1840
Land in the Parish of Doutta Galla advertised for sale in Port Phillip Herald. The Melbourne Racing Club purchased land on the Saltwater River. The first race meeting was held at Saltwater River Flat Racecourse (later known as Flemington Racecourse).
November 23, 1843
The land in Section 23 was granted to George Frederick Berkeley St John. This was the first parcel of land in the Parish of Doutta Galla that was alienated from the Crown.
September 16, 1845
First land sale in the Parish (Section 15, comprising 563 acres) to Edward Jones Brewster.
March 7, 1848
James Dunbar is granted a licence to operate the Flemington Inn (also known as Mains Bridge Hotel) on the corner of Mount Alexander Road and Mooltan Street, Flemington.
May 1849
James Watson purchased land on the corner of Lincoln Road and Mount Alexander Road, Essendon where he established a wool store on the site on which the Lincolnshire Arms Hotel was later built.
July 29, 1850
The Pascoe Vale National School opened on the Five Mile Creek.
August 25, 1850
St Thomas Church, Moonee Ponds opened.
Gold discovered at Clunes, Buninyong, Mount Alexander and Bendigo Creek.
November 1851
Anglican Church services were being conducted in a little wooden building in Moonee Ponds.
December 23, 1852
The villages of Essendon and Hawstead appear in a newspaper report after the township is surveyed by Eugene Bellairs.
Mount Alexander Road laid down with metal.
December 5, 1853
A school began in a small cottage in Flemington village.
January 1, 1854
Flemington Post Office opened near Flemington Bridge.
The Victorian Parliament passed an Act to Prevent Further Pollution of the Waters of the River Yarra above the City of Melbourne, resulting in industries moving to Flemington and Kensington.
January 1854
School opened by the Independent Church on Boundary Road, later known as Flemington State School No. 258.
The Rose and Crown Hotel was licensed to Edward Murray (later the Cricket Club Hotel and now the St Vincent Liem Centre).
November 1, 1860
The Melbourne and Essendon Railway Company’s railway service between Essendon and Government Station (Batman’s Hill/Spencer Street) began regular services.
December 23, 1861
The Borough of Essendon and Flemington proclaimed.
The Flemington Racecourse railway line opened.
Newmarket Saleyards and the Melbourne City Abattoir at Newmarket opened.
January 25, 1862
The first Council of the Essendon & Flemington Municipal District is elected with Cr Edward Byam Wight was nominated as the first Chairman of the Council.
The State Government granted 20 acres of swampy land, the Moonee Ponds Reserve, to the Council for a reserve, now known as Queens Park.
Last Corroboree of the Wurundjeri in Moonee Valley.
January 9, 1871
Having closed in 1864, rail services from Melbourne to Essendon were restored. The line would be extended to Seymour the following year.
June 7, 1873
The Essendon Football Club played its first official match against Carlton on its home ground, McCracken’s Paddock.
June 19, 1873
The Essendon Cricket Club signed an agreement with the Council to use the Essendon Recreation Reserve for its home matches.
William Samuel Cox established the Kensington Park Racecourse.
The Essendon & Flemington Athenaeum, later to become the Town Hall, is built in Moonee Ponds.
The National Agricultural Society accepted a government offer of land to establish new showgrounds in Ascot Vale. The first show would be conducted there on December 21, 1883.
March 14, 1882
The residents of Flemington and Kensington secede from the Borough of Essendon & Flemington. The Flemington & Kensington Borough would be formed on May 1.
October 27, 1883
The new the Borough of Essendon Council met in the recently-purchased Essendon & Flemington Athenaeum for the first time.
William Samuel Cox establishes the Moonee Valley Racecourse on “Feehan’s Farm.”
December 1, 1883
The old Town Hall in Warrick Street, Ascot Vale was sold.
February 4, 1886
The new Essendon Town Hall (formerly the Essendon & Flemington Athenaeum) is officially opened. The event was attended by Alfred Deakin, the local Member who would go on to become Prime Minister of Australia.
January 22, 1890
Essendon is proclaimed a town by Lord Hopetoun, the Governor of Victoria.
The inaugural meeting of the Ascot Vale Racing Club was held on land at the southern end of Union Road.
August 15, 1901
Flemington and Kensington Town Hall opened.
Residents of the Borough of Flemington and Kensington voted to be united with the City of Melbourne.
October 11, 1906
North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company opened tram lines from Flemington Bridge to North Essendon and to the Saltwater River.
April 19, 1909
Essendon became a City.
January 19, 1910
The Essendon Quarry opened in Maribyrnong. After it was sold in 1971, the site would become Highpoint Shopping Centre.
May 18, 1921
The Minister of Defence approved the purchase of 71 acres of land in Bulla Road, North Essendon known as St Johns. On August 7, 1923, it would be renamed “Essendon Aerodrome.”
August 1, 1922
The Tramways Board and the State Electricity Commission took control respectively of the tram and lighting services from the North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company.
May 6, 1922
The Essendon Football Club played its first match on the Essendon Recreation Reserve.
October 15, 1946
Ascot Racecourse compulsory acquired. The first housing on the site would be built by the Housing Commission two years later.
Essendon Aerodrome declared an international airport.
The Housing Commission announced that flats would be built at Debney’s Park, the former site of Debney’s Tannery.
Kensington flats built on part of the Kensington Park Racecourse.
February 3, 1970
Tullamarine Freeway opened.
Lynch’s Bridge Housing Development, on the site of the Newmarket Saleyards, launched.
Essendon City Council replaced by City of Moonee Valley Commissioners with a new elected Council assuming office in 1997.
The Moonee Ponds Market closed; this would ultimately lead to high-density high-rises on the site and surrounds.

This timeline is a summary derived from the Annals of Essendon. Compiled by Robert Chalmers, this publication was published in four volumes from 1998 to 2005. For a more detailed timeline, see A Chronology of Essendon & District 1803 – 1900.

The Annals of Essendon is available for sale as a CD on the EHS shop.