A city for the future
During the post-World War II boom, the Shire of Melton had significantly less residents who were migrants or from non-English speaking backgrounds than some other parts of Melbourne.
By the early 1990s, residents from Vietnam, South Africa, and Malaysia were the fastest growing demographic in the shire.
As the Melton East growth corridor was being developed in this period, Melton City Council proposed to divide the area into several separate suburbs. The names of these new suburbs were chosen to reflect the history and geography of the area. Burnside was named for James and Rachel Burnside, who settled there in the 1860s. Ravenhall was the name of a former rail spur and explosives factory in the same location. Hillside, named after a local farm, was gazetted as a suburb as part of the development of East Melton and became one of the fastest growing communities.
A fourth new suburb was proposed, consisting of land adjoining Taylors Road. The Melton & District Historical Society suggested the name Stoney Park, because the area contained ‘the worst of the dry stone ground’, but the council felt this would be seen as overly negative. Instead, the suburb was named after the Mortons, a longstanding farming family in the area. This suburb later became Taylors Hill, named in 2000 for another established local family.
In the 1990s, local businessman turned developer George Gilbertson and his daughter, Christine, had a vision for a new suburb in Melton built entirely from scratch: Caroline Springs. The name was chosen for the area’s historical connection to Caroline Chisholm, a welfare worker who built shelters for diggers and their families traveling along the nearby Mt Alexander Road to the goldfields in the 1850s. By 1997, the construction of Caroline Springs was underway and the following year, the first three villages were launched: Chisholm Park, Brookside and Springlake. The first block of land sold for $53,000 and residents began moving in.
By 2011, the population of Caroline Springs had grown to 20,366 people and the area boasted 10 schools, a police station, civic centre, library, retirement village, shopping complex, multiple recreation facilities, childcare facilities, and a wide range of community groups and events. The final allotments of land were released for sale in 2011 and after 14 years of growth, developers and residents celebrated the successful completion of the project.
Read more about the development of the gardens
Since then, with the support of the City of Melton, a group of passionate community members operating as the Friends of the Melton Botanic Garden have worked tirelessly to bring the vision for the garden to life. It is cared for almost entirely by volunteers.
From its inception, the Melton Botanic Garden had a strong focus on native plants and their use by First Nations people. The Koori Student Garden, Victorian Volcanic Plains Aboriginal Usage Garden, and Bushfoods Garden feature a wide range of largely dryland plant species, some of which are indigenous to the area and some others that are native to other parts of Australia. Many of these plants are well suited to the relatively low rainfall around Melton, which averages around just 450 millimetres per year. These three gardens also highlight the myriad uses of native plants, which have been part of Aboriginal cultural knowledge over millennia. The Melton Botanic Garden also focuses on significant non-indigenous botanical specimens, in distinctive and beautiful Southern African and Mediterranean plantings.
The story continues
Today, 130 different nations are represented amongst the City of Melton’s population, including India, the Philippines, New Zealand, Malta and Vietnam. Recent migrants from African and Asian countries make up a significant proportion of new residents.
Another vital part of this vibrant multicultural mix is the diverse group of First Nations residents who call Melton home and who maintain ongoing custodianship of the land. Some are part of the three Traditional Owner groups of the Kulin Nation, while others belong to other nations and clans from across Australia. Protected cultural heritage sites such as the Bullum Bullum camp site in Burnside continue to provide crucial cultural links to the land.
Ajak Deng settled in Melton as a refugee from South Sudan and is now a successful fashion model.
Read Ajak Deng’s story
Arriving in Australia and settling in Melton in 2005 as a refugee from what is now South Sudan, Ajak Deng told her school career advisor that she was thinking of joining the army. The advisor suggested that maybe she should consider the fashion industry instead, and while still a student at Kurunjang Secondary College, Ajak got her big break at the 2008 Melbourne Spring Fashion Week. She is now an internationally acclaimed fashion model.
Djerriwarrh Festival and Harmony Day
The annual Djerriwarrh Festival and Harmony Day are highlights of the Melton City Council calendar of community events, bringing people together from across the municipality to celebrate the community’s cultural heritage and broad cultural diversity. Images from Melton City Council.
View more festival photos
International soccer player Mathew Leckie grew up in Melton
Read Mathew Leckie’s story
Mathew Leckie is a high-profile international soccer player. Leckie grew up in Melton, attending Kurunjang Secondary College until 2008. At high school he was a multi-talented athlete, before achieving success as a footballer. He first played for the Socceroos in 2012, his time with the national squad including stints as captain.
Over the decades, Melton has been defined by continual expansion. With each new era, the community grew and shifted and its needs changed. As new neighbourhoods appeared fresh challenges arose, the council and community, as well as individuals within the municipality, have risen to meet them. Today, the City of Melton is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia, home to more than 185,000 people and with a forecasted population of 485,000 by 2051. With continued care, thoughtful development and community commitment, Melton is sure to continue on its journey as a city that always looks to the future.