Why we love North Melbourne

11 September 2023

Dynamic North Melbourne is brimming with creativity and community spirit.

Facts about North Melbourne

  • Postcode: 3051
  • Distance from CBD: 3 km north-west
  • Area: 2.37 km²
  • Bounded by: Flemington Road, Victoria Street and Moonee Ponds Creek
  • Local economy: 822 businesses generating 8923 jobs
  • Population: 16,500 residents
  • Public transport: Train stations: Macaulay and Flemington Bridge (North Melbourne station is in West Melbourne). Trams routes: 57, 58 and 59. Bus routes: several, including the 401 to Melbourne University.

Acknowledging Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Traditional Owners

North Melbourne is on Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung country. The area has a rich Aboriginal heritage and continuing significance.

On a bluff, this area overlooks the place where a saltwater blue lagoon was once fed by a chain of ponds. In a heavily modified form these are now part of the Moonee Ponds Creek.

Nearby Royal Park and Princes Park were important gathering places for the peoples of the Kulin.

Explore the rich history and continuing cultures of the area at Mapping Aboriginal Melbourne.

What is North Melbourne known for?

North Melbourne is a lively, cosmopolitan neighbourhood boasting an eclectic mix of boutique retail, arts, dining and community experiences.

There are plenty of things to do: the nightlife is vibrant with live music, and the arts scene attracts people from across the city to enjoy local bars and eateries between performances.

You might recognise the ‘shinboner spirit’ of the North Melbourne Football Club, or local landmarks such as the North Melbourne Town Hall, and Errol Street – an iconic shopping strip that has doubled as a film set in movies such as Shantaram and TV series such as Fisk.

Local landmarks in North Melbourne

Gardiner Reserve in North Melbourne

What’s it like to live in North Melbourne?

A mix of architectural styles in North Melbourne tell the story of its evolution. The area features gold-rush heritage terraces, medium-density complexes, contemporary warehouse conversions and public housing towers.

More than 50 per cent of residents in North Melbourne were born overseas, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics breakdown of country of birth for residents:

  • Australia: 49%
  • China: 7.7%
  • Vietnam: 2.8%
  • Malaysia: 2.6%
  • India: 2.6%

Families and communities are attracted to North Melbourne by its leafy streets, playground, open space and pocket parks.

North Melbourne boasts a local library, a primary school and high-performing childcare centre: Lady Huntingfield Early Learning and Family Services, which is run by City of Melbourne.

North Melbourne also shares a border with Royal Park, an epic 180 hectares of wilderness.

Royal Park was an important Kulin living area and continues to be a place of cultural life. Here, you can find an Aboriginal scarred tree, one of six culturally modified trees in the municipality. These trees provide an important living connection for Aboriginal people to their ancestors and cultural practices.

What residents love about North Melbourne:

  • Victorian facades, verandahs and iron lacework
  • bluestone laneways and cobbled pathways
  • industrial areas
  • tree-lined streets and wide roads with central medians.
Errol Street in North Melbourne

Things people say about North Melbourne

Here’s what we heard from people during community consultation for the North Melbourne Heritage Review.

“I like big trees like eucalyptus because they have a good smell and it’s good for the lungs.”

“The laneways tell the stories.”

“Public and social housing in the area should be protected. There should be good examples of public architecture of the period, plus lots of social history.”

“…fresh air and beautiful trees, the houses around the park are pretty.”

“The intact rows of shops on Errol Street make this a distinctive element of the local neighbourhood. They should be protected.”

North Melbourne Heritage Review

North Melbourne’s urban identity has been forged over more than 150 years.

This former township has come a long way from its days as an industrial employment hub for the local livestock precinct. Landmarks such as the Meat Market still pay homage to these origins.

Residents have a strong sense of community, as well as a keen interest in the suburb’s heritage.

This includes the stories no longer visible in the landscape, such as stock routes, stories of gold rush travellers, an underground creek and buried tram tracks.

Find out about these and more through the North Melbourne Heritage Review. This is the first comprehensive review of heritage in this area since the 1980s. It proposes changes to the heritage category of over one hundred properties, and seeks heritage protection for several new individual heritage places.

In consultation with Traditional Owners, a thematic history was developed, capturing North Melbourne’s rich history. The report received final endorsement at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting in September 2023.

Errol Street east, 1964. State Library Victoria

Apply for a heritage grant

Have you been thinking about or planning a project to transform your heritage building in North Melbourne? If it has a heritage overlay and needs a makeover, big or small, apply for a grant from the Melbourne Heritage Restoration Fund.

Things to do in North Melbourne

Rich with history and infused with a diverse multicultural population, North Melbourne also offers awesome dining and shopping experiences.

More than 820 businesses generate more than 8900 jobs in North Melbourne. Our Business Precinct Program recently provided $90,000 to the North and West Melbourne Precinct Association in annual funding for 2023–24 to attract people to iconic local shopping strips, with events and activations such as Dance This Way.

Homegrown heroes include dessert bar Mörk Chocolate Brew House at 150 Errol Street. This sweet local business received a small business grant from the City of Melbourne in 2014 and now boasts a chocolate factory, a line of baked goods, three Melbourne shops and an international presence.

New favourite cafes, bars, restaurants, live music and independent retailers are ready to be discovered in North Melbourne. Check out the deco renovation at the Courthouse Hotel, or see a band at the Town Hall Hotel.

Roam the block flanked by Queensberry, Errol and Victoria streets to shop for everything from flat-soled shoes to antiques and vintage, quirky games and indy books. There’s even a shop dedicated to pampering your furry friends.

North Melbourne is home to art galleries, an iconic contemporary dance company and one of the most unique, eclectic and historically significant collections of electronic instruments in the world: MESS.

Find more things to do and see, eat and drink at What’s On Melbourne.

Mörk Chocolate Brew House in North Melbourne

Arts House presents a year-round program of dance, theatre, music, sound, new technologies and community projects. Enjoy low-cost, high-quality events in the recently restored North Melbourne Town Hall, corner of Queensberry and Errol streets.

Mohini at Arts House. Photo: Anne Moffat 2023

Meat Market on Blackwood Street was once the site of boisterous bartering between butchers and meat traders. Now it’s an important creative hub, hosting everything from foodie extravaganzas to circus shows and dance performances. It’s been cleverly designed with bookable spaces of all shapes and sizes.

Public event at Meat Market in North Melbourne

How to unlock knowledge at North Melbourne Library

The North Melbourne Library on Errol Street has been an important community gathering place for generations of local residents.

It is an inclusive and accessible space for everyone. It was built in 1882.

In 2022–23, we invested in over 5500 new books for this library. It boasts:

  • Computer access and 24-hour wi-fi.
  • Online access to books, film, music and other resources.
  • Programs for children, teenagers and adults.
  • More than 4000 members.

Look for dreamy new murals in the recently transformed area for children and young people.

Artist and Gundijtmara / Kirrae Wurrong woman Patricia McKean designed the murals so that:

“All children can see themselves as part of the great adventure.”

Artist Patricia McKean on the mural at North Melbourne Library

Grand plans for renewal in North Melbourne

The neighbourhood is set to undergo a transformation as it welcomes urban renewal works in Arden and Macaulay.

The Arden urban renewal precinct will attract 34,000 local jobs in health, life science, digital technology and education, and see a new train station built as part of the Metro Tunnel project.

The Macaulay urban renewal precinct in the north-west promises new streets, a school, enhanced active-transport options and a community centre. It’s expected to be home to 10,000 residents by 2051 – triple the current population.

Community health and wellbeing in North Melbourne

North Melbourne is close to great public transport, healthcare, fresh food and groceries, and the nearby Queen Victoria Market. Find sports facilities and a seasonal outdoor pool at North Melbourne Recreation Centre.

Community groups have gathered at North Melbourne Community Centre, Hotham Hub and the Jean McKendry Neighbourhood House for decades. Get to know the older Chinese ballroom dancers who meet every Wednesday.

Older people meet to dance once a week in North Melbourne

To help serve the future needs of North Melbourne’s growing community, we have budgeted $21 million to build a new community centre to deliver more services in North Melbourne.

Consultation will help us make sure the new centre will better meet the needs and aspirations of our community.

“We’re encouraging North Melbourne residents, workers, students and visitors to tell us what they want to see in this modern multi-use space.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp

About our neighbourhood model

We’re working to better understand and respond to community needs in a highly localised way through a new neighbourhood model.

Led by passionate neighbourhood partners, the model aims to ‘connect the dots’ between the City of Melbourne, residents and businesses, to empower local people, build community capacity and guide city projects through our neighbourhood portals.

To find out more and have your say on what matters, explore the North Melbourne Neighbourhood Portal, and get to know the local neighbourhood priorities.

A neighbourhood Future Melbourne Committee meeting was held in North Melbourne on Tuesday 19 September 2023. Watch on demand.

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11 September 2023
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