Why we love Kensington

12 October 2023

Kensington is a uniquely charming suburb with a village-like feel, only 4 km north-west of the central city.

Locals describe the strong sense of community, heritage character and many parks and green spaces as key strengths of the neighbourhood.

Bellair Street in Kensington

Acknowledging Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Traditional Owners

Kensington is on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country.

The area has a rich Aboriginal heritage and continuing cultural significance, especially the two waterways that flank the neighbourhood: the Maribyrnong River and Moonee Ponds Creek.

Although these waterways have been heavily modified, a chain of ponds once flowed into a vast saltwater lake on the edge of the city.

Explore the area with fresh eyes at Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne.

Fast facts about Kensington

  • Postcode: 3031
  • Distance from CBD: 4 km north-west of the CBD
  • Area: 2.16 km2
  • Bounded by: Racecourse Road, Smithfield Road and the Maribyrnong River, Moonee Ponds Creek and Sunbury / Werribee train line
  • Local economy: 370 businesses
  • Population: 11,000 residents
  • Public transport: Train – Kensington, Macaulay and South Kensington stations. Tram – route 57. Bus – routes 402 and 404.

What is Kensington known for?

Look for friends chatting at outdoor tables in dappled sunlight on Bellair Street, or head around the corner to nearby Macaulay Road to find the iconic Hardimans Hotel and other gems.

A village atmosphere attracts people to the shopping and dining hub around Kensington Station.

Many small businesses thrive in the side streets of Kensington, from brewpubs to a coffee roastery.

Iconic Hardimans Hotel in Kensington
Skate park at JJ Holland Park

What’s it like to live in Kensington?

There is a diverse housing mix across Kensington, from heritage cottages to public housing, townhouses and apartments.

Brick factories and industrial buildings also tell of the area’s varied history.

Zero food waste cafe Cassette in Kensington
  • How many: 11,000 people live in Kensington.
  • How old: Half of residents are aged between 25 to 49. The largest group are parents and homebuilders (35 to 49) at 26.3% and young workforce (25 to 34) at 23.7%.
  • Households: Family households make up 28.3% of dwellings, including couples with children, one-parent families and other families. Add couples without children and this jumps to 54.3%. This is higher than the broader municipality at 14.9% and 39.7% respectively.
  • Dwellings: 28.9% of residents live in high density flats or apartments. Almost half of all residents are renting.
  • Languages spoken at home: 24.7% of people speak a language other than English at home: Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Vietnamese, Spanish, Somali and Italian are the top five community languages.
Local favourite La Tortilleria in Kensington

Feel connected to community

Kensington has a unique village like feel and is a hive of community activity.

People in Kensington feel higher levels of connection to community in comparison to other parts of the municipality, according to recent findings from neighbourhood consultation.

Since we launched our Connected Neighbourhoods Small Grants last year we’ve funded 18 different local people and groups to run activities and projects across Kensington.

Look out for many community-led initiatives and projects including community gardens, monthly community fresh food market, mum and baby boogies sessions, Reconciliation Action Group, a repair cafe for jewellery, textiles, electrics and more.

The Kensington Stockyard Food Garden quietly builds community around garden lovers, and recently celebrated its birthday with a mushroom festival on the site of the cattle sale yards that opened in 1861.

Emma Wasson in the Kensington Stockyard Food Garden

The Kensington Community Network – convened by the Kensington Neighbourhood House with Unison Housing – regularly collaborates on local projects. We provide over $100,000 a year for community support activities at the neighbourhood house.

From almost 900 pieces of community feedback we identified 27 local priorities for Kensington, which we are working to realise. Check out the priorities and progress on the Kensington Neighbourhood Portal.

Good for business

Almost 370 businesses generate almost 3800 jobs in Kensington (Census of Land Use and Employment 2020).

To attract people to iconic shopping strips in Kensington, our Business Precinct Program provides annual funding for the Kensington Business Association.

Explore What’s On in Kensington and discover more things to do, places to eat, drink, shop, and ways to be merry in this charming neighbourhood.

LEGO-heads rejoice at Brickville in Kensington

Investing in the community

We’re redeveloping the Kensington Community Aquatic and Recreation Centre.

Construction is underway and the new centre is on track to open to the public in 2025.

Having served the community since 1976, the centre is being replaced to meet the community’s changing and diverse needs, while making sure it is affordable and accessible for all users.

When complete, the new centre will feature:

  • 25-metre eight-lane pool
  • learn-to-swim pool
  • water play area
  • three-court stadium
  • three multipurpose program rooms
  • change rooms
  • cafe.
Artist’s impression of the new pool in Kensington

Grand plans for renewal

Over the coming decades, we have grand plans for urban renewal in Macaulay, which includes a wedge of Kensington between the Moonee Ponds Creek and the train line.

Macaulay will transform into a mixed-use, mid-rise precinct that will create great streets and increase walkability, and add developments that celebrate the area’s history, cultural values and character.

Artist’s impression of Macaulay Terrace

Community connection in Kensington

Older people can access a broad range of events at the Kensington Neighbourhood Centre in Anthony Street.

A sensory garden at the centre is open to all visitors, and was designed for people living with dementia and their families.

Sensory garden at Kensington Neighbourhood Centre

We recently launched new social connection program Chatty Cafe, which runs on Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm at the Kensington Neighbourhood Centre.

Enjoy a light afternoon tea, read the newspaper and foreign language editions, play a board game or do a puzzle, and get to know other locals.

To support children’s health and development from birth until school age, we run the Kensington Maternal and Child Health Centre. Services include:

  • maternal and child health
  • immunisations
  • family and parenting support
  • playgroups and counselling.

Next door, there’s a 140-place early-years education and childcare centre and kindergarten.

Parks and gardens

We manage and maintain more than 30 public spaces and 10 playgrounds across Kensington, including JJ Holland Park, Kensington Stock Route, Women’s Peace Garden, Newmarket Reserve, Riverside Park and more, as well as a bowls club and tennis courts.

Epic contests play out every week on the sports ovals at JJ Holland Park. The extreme sports precinct attracts skaters and riders, and kids scramble over the adventure playground.

JJ Holland Park playground

Nearby is The Venny Adventure Playground – run on behalf of the City of Melbourne. It’s a free community backyard and play space, and offers programs to support children and their families.

Bellair Street skinny park packs fun into a small footprint. Train-obsessed kiddies will love this spot, with the occasional V-Line passing through Kensington Station. Find it on Bellair Street.

Bellair Street skinny park

A neighbourhood Future Melbourne Committee meeting was held at the Kensington Town Hall on Tuesday 24 October 2023. Watch on demand.

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