Eltham, Victoria
Eltham is a suburb in Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, 20 km north-east from Melbourne's central business district
Melbourne city centre
Melbourne City Centre is an area of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. It is not to be confused with the larger local government area of the City of Melbourne...

. Its Local Government Area is the Shire of Nillumbik
Shire of Nillumbik
The Shire of Nillumbik is a Local Government Area in Victoria, Australia. It contains some outer northern suburbs of Melbourne and rural localities beyond the urban area. It has an area of 435 square kilometres and has an estimated population of 62,837 people...

. At the 2006 Census, Eltham had a population of 17,581.

Eltham is one of the 'green wedge' areas that provide relatively undeveloped, accessible environments within the Melbourne suburban region. These green wedge areas are under constant pressure from developments such as road and freeway expansions, but Eltham has managed to retain many tree-lined streets and leafy reserves. However the character of the suburb is changing quickly, with increased road traffic and higher-density housing becoming more common

Eltham is known for its attractions including the artists colony Montsalvat
Montsalvat is an artist colony in Eltham, Victoria, Australia, established by Justus Jorgensen in 1934. It is home to over a dozen buildings, houses and halls set amongst richly established gardens on 48,562 m2 of land...

 and the Diamond Valley Railway, the largest ridable miniature railway
Ridable miniature railway
A ridable miniature railway is a ground-level, large scale model railway that hauls passengers using locomotives that are models of full-sized railway locomotives .-Overview:Typically they have a rail track gauge between and , though both larger and...

 in Australia.


Eltham developed around what is now Main Road from the 1840s. A reserve for a village at the junction of the Diamond Creek and Yarra River
Yarra River
The Yarra River, originally Birrarung, is a river in east-central Victoria, Australia. The lower stretches of the river is where the city of Melbourne was established in 1835 and today Greater Melbourne dominates and influences the landscape of its lower reaches...

 is shown on maps around 1848. By 1851 the first Crown allotments were being subdivded and sold, along with a private subdivision developed by TM Holloway and known as Little Eltham. At this time, the town's centre was located around the intersection of Pitt Street and Main Road.

Eltham Post Office opened on 1 February 1854.

The arrival of the railway in 1902 drew business further north along Main Road to the current town centre.

The Eltham to Templestowe bridge (1855-1863, 1873-1935?)

In February 1855 Hungarian immigrant Sigismund Wekey purchased 211 acre (0.85388746 km²) in what was then Eltham (but is now Lower Plenty), via The Victoria Vineyard and Garden Fruit Company of which he was manager, with a vision to start a wine industry in the new settlement of Melbourne.

In March 1855, Wekey held a meeting at the Bulleen Hotel and called for shareholders, each “according to his means”, in a proposed toll bridge, the first bridge ever built over the Upper Yarra, joining "Eltham" to Templestowe, and replacing a toll punt being operated by the company. The bridge would cut five kilometres off the trip from Eltham township to Melbourne, it was claimed at the meeting.

A plan, backed by a group of Melbourne businessmen who would form the ‘Templestowe Bridge Committee’, attracted the necessary shareholders and the project was underway. Colonial Architect of the day, James Balmain did the design as a private commission, engineers and builders were Allott and Greenwood. The foundation stone, laid by John Hodgson M.L.C., on 18 August 1855, concealed a manuscript giving details of the people at the ceremony.

The bridge would have a span of 43 metres and a width of eight metres. It would cost 2200 English Pounds ($US800,000 in today’s currency). It would be located at the end of what is now Bonds Road, Lower Plenty, the land for this road being donated by local landowners John Seymour and David Bell. And the Central Road Board agreed to level the road to the bridge on the Templestowe side through the estate of Henry Stooke.

Meantime Wekey conceived a plan for another bridge at Studley Park to improve and shorten the trip to the city even further. By 21 September the plan for this second bridge was underway.

A stoppage in the works of the Templestowe Bridge was explained by Wekey on 22 September as being a dispute between the Board and the contractors over payment when the foundation on the Lower Plenty side was found to be different than expected, causing a change in the design - the contractors were wanting more money to accommodate this.

Unfortunately in January 1856 the Victoria Vineyard and Garden Fruit Company was forced to sell its land. The sale was to Mr King for eight English Pounds an acre - the land had been acquired originally for 4.60 English Pounds an acre - but Wekey had been confident it would soon be worth 18-20 English Pounds per acre! The company was to be wound up shortly after.

It appears the Templestowe Bridge was operating by this time.

In March 1862, a deputation of Eltham residents approached the Commissioner of Railways and Roads, requesting the government buy the Templestowe Bridge then give it back to the Eltham District Road Board, as while its toll earning capability was not as “remunerative” as had been hoped, the bridge was a “great public convenience”. This request was denied.

In October 1863 there was a great flood causing the Yarra to rise 12 metres - it even flooded Elizabeth Street city. A number of bridges were washed away.

In March 1865 a deputation of Templestowe residents to the Acting Commissioner of Roads and Bridges, offered 600 English Pounds raised by them towards a new bridge to replace the Templestowe Bridge and requested a government grant towards the cost. The Acting Commissioner “promised to give the matter further consideration” though "he did not see from what fund a sum of money could be granted to them”.

A repair job was carried out over 1873 and 1874.

There were several more large floods notably in October, 1923 when the Templestowe Bridge, “a solid wooden structure on an iron girder, with stone supports” almost washed away again. The bridge also appears to have survived the significant December, 1934 flood as it is mentioned in a news article in The Argus newspaper in February 1935. No other references have yet been found. And no bridge picture has been found either.

The last ‘bits’ of the Templestowe Bridge, joining what was Eltham to Finns Reserve at Thompson’s Road, Templestowe, finally washed away according to local folklore in the 1960s.

Around 1855 another bridge was built nearby in what was Eltham but is now Lower Plenty, over the Plenty River. This bridge, bluestone blocks and steel, still stands today and is part of the Plenty River Trail close to the Heidelberg Golf Club and the Lower Plenty Hotel. It is possible that the Templestowe Bridge was similar in appearance to this.

Appeal to Artists

Eltham has been a popular location for artists since the early 1900s. Eltham is famous for the Montsalvat
Montsalvat is an artist colony in Eltham, Victoria, Australia, established by Justus Jorgensen in 1934. It is home to over a dozen buildings, houses and halls set amongst richly established gardens on 48,562 m2 of land...

 artist community which built a rustic set of medieval-style buildings in the 1930s. Montsalvat is still open to the public and houses artists in residence and a year round calendar of public programs.

Aside from the Montsalvat artist community, Eltham has also been home to artists such as Walter Withers http://www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Page/PagePrint.asp?Page_Id=363 and Neil Douglas http://www.nillumbik.vic.gov.au/Page/PagePrint.asp?Page_Id=363, as well as to writers like Alan Marshall http://www.elthameastps.vic.edu.au/webquests/Eltham%20Web%20Quest%2006/imppeople.htm and Mervyn Skipper http://www.elthameastps.vic.edu.au/webquests/Eltham%20Web%20Quest%2006/history.htm.

Significant buildings

One of the legacies of this artistic tradition is the local architecture, particularly the use of mudbricks as a building material. Alistair Knox (namesake for a major community reserve in Eltham's centre) was perhaps the best-known exponent of this technique of construction. Australia's first mudbrick community building, the Eltham Community Centre was opened in 1978. His protege architect Robert Marshall, later Mayor of Eltham, went on to develop his own style of mudbrick and environmentally responsible architecture in Victoria, in his Hurstbridge practice which graduated a number of young, notable Australian architects.

Monsalvat, in Hillcrest Avenue, operates as a commune to artists and craftspeople. The first building was constructed in 1935 by artist Justus Jorgensen
Justus Jorgensen
Justus Jorgensen was an Australian artist and architectHe was born in East Brighton, Melbourne. He was a student of Max Meldrum.He is best known for establishing the notorious artist colony Montsalvat, located in Eltham....

. The Great Hall at Monsalvat was built in 1938.

Shillinglaw Cottage was built in 1878 by a local builder, George Stebbing, with handmade bricks using an unusual design featuring burnt header bricks throughout the facade.

St Margaret's Church, located in Pitt Street, was constructed in 1880 and is included on the Historic Buildings Register.

Eltham Primary School, located on Dalton Street, was first established in 1856. The original mud brick structure is still standing and in use.

The Eltham Courthouse, on the corner of Main Road and Brougham Street, was built in 1859 and was classified by the National Trust in 1977.

The timber trestle
A trestle is a rigid frame used as a support, especially referring to a bridge composed of a number of short spans supported by such frames. In the context of trestle bridges, each supporting frame is generally referred to as a bent...

 railway bridge across the Diamond Creek just south of the Eltham Railway Station is one of the few remaining examples of this type of construction in Melbourne, and the only one still in use on a revenue railway. Built in 1901, the bridge was the subject of a lengthy dispute during the 1970s between the Victorian Railways
Victorian Railways
The Victorian Railways operated railways in the Australian state of Victoria from 1859 to 1983. The first railways in Victoria were private companies, but when these companies failed or defaulted, the Victorian Railways was established to take over their operations...

 and local residents over its preservation.


Eltham encompasses the state secondary school, Eltham High School
Eltham High School
Eltham High School is a secondary school in Victoria, Australia. It is located in Eltham, a suburb which is north east from Melbourne. It is mainly known for the creativity of its students, in areas such as art, drama, and music....

, as well as the private girls secondary school Catholic Ladies' College (CLC). Another private secondary school, Eltham College of Education
Eltham College of Education
Eltham College of Education is a private early years, junior and high school with an enrolment of approximately 1,200 students. It is situated in Research, an outer suburb north east of Melbourne, Australia. The current principal is Dr. David Warner.-Campuses:The school is currently divided up...

, takes its name from Eltham, but is located in nearby Research. Primary schools include Eltham Primary, Our Lady Help Of Christians Primary, Eltham East Primary and Eltham North Primary School. Several schools are also located in the exclusive connecting area of Eltham North, including St. Helena Secondary College, Plenty Valley Montessori School, Holy Trinity Primary School, Glen Katherine Primary School and near Eltham College of Education
Eltham College of Education
Eltham College of Education is a private early years, junior and high school with an enrolment of approximately 1,200 students. It is situated in Research, an outer suburb north east of Melbourne, Australia. The current principal is Dr. David Warner.-Campuses:The school is currently divided up...

there is Research Primary.


Eltham has a local train station, Eltham Station
Eltham railway station, Melbourne
Eltham is a railway station in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, located in the suburb of Eltham, on the Hurstbridge railway line. Eltham is classed as a Premium Station and is in Metcard Zone 2....

, located on the Hurstbridge Line.

The suburb is home to the Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club
Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club
Eltham Wildcats Basketball Club is widely recognised as the largest junior basketball club in the world. Its teams participate in many and varied competitions, including the Eastern Districts Junior Basketball Association and the Victorian Junior Basketball League...

, one of the largest junior basketball clubs in the world.

Eltham Eagles Soccer Club and Eltham Cricket Club are also popular gathering points.

Eltham has a football team
Eltham Football Club
Eltham Football Club is an Australian rules football club in Eltham, Victoria, currently competing in the Northern Football League.-History:A football team from Eltham began playing social matches at nearby Kangaroo Ground from 1900....

  competing in the Northern Football League.

The suburb is home to the Eltham Tennis Club, one of the largest tennis clubs in the Nillumbik Shire.

Eltham Little Athletics Club is one of the largest of the eight clubs competing weekly at the Diamond Valley Little Athletics Centre
Diamond Valley Little Athletics Centre
Diamond Valley Little Athletics Centre is one of the largest little athletic centres in Victoria, Australia and is based at Willinda Park, Greensborough...

 at Willinda Park, Greensborough
Willinda Park, Greensborough
Willinda Park, Greensborough is located at the end of Nell Street, Greensborough and is maintained by the City of Banyule and the Willinda Park Committee of Management....


Eltham also has a sub-branch of the RSL
Returned and Services League of Australia
The Returned and Services League of Australia is a support organisation for men and women who have served or are serving in the Australian Defence Force ....

. The venue functions as a hub for many events on the local calendar, with regular meetings by local sports clubs and the local section of the War Widow's Association. The establishment is also home to the local darts and fishing clubs, who compete regularly against neighbouring suburbs. Recently, theme nights have been introduced to Saturdays, with local bands and regional bands performing regular shows. The venue is community-minded, providing Anzac Day
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all...

 services which annually attract an attendance in the hundreds.

Local Wildlife

The Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida) was discovered in 1938 in Eltham. After 1956 it was thought to be extinct until a population was found again at Eltham in 1986. A preserve for the butterflies has been created on land connecting to Eltham's Linear Park.

Notable residents

  • Phil Judd
    Phil Judd
    Philip Judd is a New Zealand singer-songwriter known for being one of the founders of the bands Split Enz and The Swingers.-Split Enz:...

     - Musician, Artist. Founder of Split Enz
    Split Enz
    Split Enz were a New Zealand band of the 1970s and early 1980s featuring Phil Judd and brothers Tim Finn and Neil Finn. They achieved chart success in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada during the early 1980s ‒ most notably with the single "I Got You", and built a cult following elsewhere...

     and The Swingers
    The Swingers
    The Swingers were a New Zealand rock band. Formed out of the remnants of The Suburban Reptiles, the founding members were Phil Judd , Wayne Stevens , and Mark Hough . Formed in 1979, the band released the single "One Good Reason" which was a top 20 hit in New Zealand...

    . Wrote #1 hit "Counting The Beat
    Counting The Beat
    "Counting the Beat" is a single by New Zealand rock band The Swingers released in 1981 from their album of the same name, Counting the Beat.-History:The single was performed by The Swingers, with frontman Phil Judd from Split Enz...

  • Peter Helliar
    Peter Helliar
    Peter Jason Matthew Helliar is an Australian comedian, actor and writer. Most famous for his work on television as Rove McManus' sidekick on The Loft Live from 1997 to 1998 and on Rove from 1999 and 2009...

     - Comedian
  • Merrick Watts
    Merrick Watts
    Merrick Watts is a Australian comedian, radio host and television presenter. He is best known for performing stand-up comedy and radio works as part of the comedy duo Merrick and Rosso with Tim Ross....

     - Comedian
  • Jennifer Adams
    Jennifer Adams
    Jennifer Adams is an Australian television presenter and producer.-Biography:After studying at Perth's Curtin University with a degree in journalism, Adams worked at WIN Television Ballarat before joining the Seven Network in Melbourne in 1997.Adams was appointed weekend presenter for Seven News...

     - Newsreader
  • Adam Dale
    Adam Dale
    Adam Craig Dale is a former Australian cricketer who played in 2 Tests and 30 ODIs from 1997 to 2000.He represented the Wynnum-Manly Cricket Club in Brisbane....

     - Australian Test Cricketer
  • Ben Mendelsohn
    Ben Mendelsohn
    Paul Benjamin "Ben" Mendelsohn is an Australian actor.-Early life:Mendelsohn was born in Melbourne, Australia, the son of Carole Ann and Frederick Mendelsohn. He attended Heidelberg Primary School and Banyule High School. His father is a prominent medical researcher who heads the Howard Florey...

     - Actor
  • Peter Moore - Australian rules football
    Australian rules football
    Australian rules football, officially known as Australian football, also called football, Aussie rules or footy is a sport played between two teams of 22 players on either...

    er with Melbourne and Collingwood - won two Brownlow Medals
  • Adam Simpson
    Adam Simpson
    Adam Simpson is a retired Australian rules footballer who is a former captain of North Melbourne.-Early life:Simpson grew up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, where he played junior football with the Eltham Football Club and the Northern Knights-Early career:Debuting in 1995, he has won two...

     - former captain of the Kangaroos
    Kangaroos Football Club
    The North Melbourne Football Club, nicknamed The Kangaroos, is the fourth oldest Australian rules football club in the Australian Football League and is one of the oldest sporting clubs in Australia and the world...

     Australian rules football club
  • Wilbur Wilde
    Wilbur Wilde
    Wilbur Wilde is an Australian saxophonist. He rose to prominence with the bands Ol' 55, Jo Jo Zep & The Falcons...

     - Musician, television personality
  • Terry Wallace
    Terry Wallace
    Terry Wallace is a former professional Australian rules football player and coach.As a player, his career spanned three VFL/AFL clubs; most notably Hawthorn where he played in three premierships as well as achieving All-Australian selection, and two Best and Fairests with the Footscray Football Club...

     - Richmond Football Club
    Richmond Football Club
    The Richmond Football Club, nicknamed The Tigers, is an Australian rules football club which competes in the Australian Football League. Richmond shares healthy rivalries with Carlton, Collingwood and Essendon. After winning five premierships between 1967 and 1980, the club hit the depths in 1990,...

     - Former Coach
  • Emily Browning
    Emily Browning
    Emily Jane Browning is an Australian film actress and fashion model, known for her roles as Violet Baudelaire in Brad Silberling's 2004 film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, as Anna Ivers in the 2009 film The Uninvited, as Babydoll in Zack Snyder's 2011 action thriller Sucker...

     - Actor
  • Kerry Armstrong
    Kerry Armstrong
    Kerry Michelle Armstrong is an Australian actress on film, television, and stage. She is one of only two actresses to win two Australian Film Institute Awards in the same year...

     - Actor
  • Jenny Teichman
    Jenny Teichman
    Jenny Teichman is an Australian/British philosopher, writing mostly on ethics. She was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1930 and has taught mostly at New Hall, Cambridge, where she is now an Emeritus Fellow...

     - Philosopher
  • Cadel Evans
    Cadel Evans
    Cadel Lee Evans is an Australian professional racing cyclist and winner of the 2011 Tour de France. Early in his career, Evans was a champion mountain biker, winning the World Cup in 1998 and 1999 and placing seventh in the men's cross-country mountain bike race at the 2000 Summer Olympics in...

     - Cyclist
  • Kimberley Starr
    Kimberley Starr
    Kimberley Starr is a novelist who moved to Australia as a young child. She began her education at the Armidale Demonstration School, moving on to Garran Primary School, and Padua Catholic High School, ACT , before completing her secondary education at Loreto Normanhurst...

    - Novelist

External links

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