Sunbury, Victoria

Sunbury Victoria aerial.jpg
Aerial view of Sunbury, Victoria
Sunbury is located in Melbourne
Population: 31,000(2006)[1]
Established: 1836
Postcode: 3429
Elevation: 214 m (702 ft)
Area: 22.1 km² (8.5 sq mi)
Location: 44 km (27 mi) from Melbourne
LGA: City of Hume
State District: Macedon
Federal Division: Calwell
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
19.7 °C
67 °F
9.5 °C
49 °F
534.0 mm
21 in
Localities around Sunbury:
Gisborne Riddells Creek Clarkefield
Gisborne South Sunbury Wildwood
Melton Hillside/Diggers Rest Bulla

Sunbury (play /ˈsʌnbri/)[2] is a regional city,[3][4] located 40.4 kilometres (25.1 mi) north-west of Melbourne's central business district, in the state of Victoria, Australia. Its Local Government Area is the City of Hume. At the 2006 Census, Sunbury had a population of 31,000.[1] Statistically, Sunbury is considered part of Greater Melbourne

Although Sunbury is currently a separate city close to Melbourne,[5] the Victorian government's 2009 decision to extend the urban growth boundary will likely see Sunbury absorbed by Melbourne's suburban expansion around 2020.[6]



The Sunbury area has several important Aboriginal archaeological sites, including five earth rings, which were identified in the 1970s and 80s, and believed to have been used for ceremonial gatherings. Records of corroborees and other large gatherings during early settlement attest to the imporatance of the area for Aboriginal people of the Wurundjeri tribe.[7][8][9]

Sunbury was first settled in 1836, by George Evans and William Jackson. It was Jackson and his brother, Samuel, who named the township Sunbury, after Sunbury-on-Thames, in Surrey, England when it was established in 1857. The Post Office opened on 13 January 1858.[10]

Sunbury's connection with the history and development of Victoria is influential because of its most famous and powerful citizen, "Big" Clarke. Clarke's role as one of the biggest squatters in the colony and his power and position within the Victorian Legislative Council were critical in the early days of Victoria. During the early days of self-government in Colony of Victoria, post 1851, there was a continual struggle in parliament, between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council for the ascendancy and control of government. It was the Council members, such as Clarke, who attempted to negate the excess of manhood suffrage, republicanism and Chartism as expressed in the Assembly, in order to protect their own squatters' agenda and position.[11] "Big" Clarke as a member of the Victorian 'bunyip aristocracy' also frustrated any legislative reforms to opening the lands to small farm selections. Melbourne Punch depicted Clarke in anti-squatter cartoons, such as "The man in Possession" [12] In 1859, "Big" Clarke was involved in a scandal around the discovery of gold on his holdings in nearby Deep Creek. Shares in the Bolinda company soared, Clarke sold his shares at the peak of the rush before the fraud was exposed. The gold assay was actually 'salted', possibly via a shotgun blast of golden pellets into the samples. Clarke claimed the rich assay was proved when washed in a soup bowl. The ever barbed Melbourne Punch explained how this fraud work in a cartoon of a chipped Chinese Willow Pattern plate titled the 'The Soup Plate".[13] In 1837, William "Big" Clarke, came to the area, and gained vast pastoral licences encompassing Sunbury, Clarkefield and Monegeetta. [14] In 1874, Clarke's son, William, built a mansion, which resides on an estate named "Rupertswood", after his own son, Rupert. This estate also has access to a train station, which was used to transport bales of hay to Adelaide. Though the private station was constructed in the late 19th century the Clarkes did not pay the railways for its construction until the 1960s. (Rupertwood railway Station no longer exists after the fast rail upgrade. There were two trains stopping daily during school holidays only, but now it is only a disused railway siding)[15] The Clarke's also had a connection to the Kelly Gang story via their police connection with Supt Hare.

The younger William, Sir William as he was to become, was the president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, and it was through his position that the touring English cricket team came to spend Christmas of 1882 at Rupertswood. On Christmas Eve, the English team played a social game of cricket against a local team, which they won. Lady Clarke took one or more bails, burnt them, and interred the Ashes in a small purple velvet pouch, which she presented to the English Captain, Ivo Bligh. She proposed that the ashes be used as a perpetual trophy for matches between the two countries. Later the remains of the burnt bails were placed in a small urn. The Ashes have since become one of the world's most sought-after sporting trophies.

In 1922, the Clarke family sold the property to H V McKay, the owner of the Sunshine Harvester Works, whose estate subsequently onsold it in 1927 to the Salesian Catholic order. Until recently the mansion and surrounding property has been used for educational and agricultural purposes, and as a boarding school for students of both academic and agricultural endeavours (Salesian College). The mansion has now been restored, and is used for weddings and other formal functions. The school, known as Salesian College, Rupertswood, is still located on the property.

In the early 1970s the area (which was then still largely rural) became famous in Australia as the site of the Sunbury Pop Festival, which was held annually from 1972 to 1975.


The front of the Rupertswood mansion, located in the Rupertswood Estate, Sunbury

The demographics/culture of Sunbury up until the mid-1980s was predominantly White Anglo-Saxon and some other minor ethnic groups. It has only been in the last 20 years that Sunbury has seen an increase of other nationalities (predominately from an immigration from New Zealand and the United Kingdom).

Sunbury's residents represent diverse cultural backgrounds, partly due to the working class background, and proximity to major manufacturing and transport hubs, with Melbourne Airport only being 17.5 kilometres (11 mi) from the township. A recent trend for people who work in the Melbourne CBD to trade longer commute times for a more economic lifestyle (due to cheaper housing), has seen the population of Sunbury grow in number, with numerous new housing estates ringing the borders of the established township. Sunbury's population was recorded as being 25,086 in the 2001 census, and is estimated at approximately 34,000 in 2006, making it the 38th largest urban centre by population in Australia. Sunbury has a high Caucasian population.

Retail and Entertainment

Sunbury has a town centre containing Coles, Woolworths, Foodworks and IGA supermarkets as well as Big W, Harris Scarfe and Target department stores. Away from the town centre is an Aldi Supermarket and a Bunnings Warehouse hardware store. There are also many food outlets situated in Sunbury. Sunbury also has a Reading Cinema located next to the railway station.


Sunbury Railway Station

Sunbury Railway Station is connected to Melbourne by V/Line services on the Bendigo train line. These services are not as frequent as those on the metropolitan Metlink service — an approximate hourly frequency is provided on weekdays, although on weekends service levels can be as infrequent as once every 80 minutes.

The State Government has announced that the line to Sunbury will be electrified following a $270 million investment, bringing suburban-standard services to the town from 2012[16].


Primary Schools

  • Sunbury West Primary School
  • Sunbury Primary School
  • Sunbury Heights Primary School
  • Killara Primary School
  • Kismet Primary School
  • St Anne's Primary School
  • Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School
  • Goonawarra Primary School

Secondary Schools/High Schools



Sunbury is represented in the following sporting leagues:

  • Badminton
    • Sunbury Badminton Club Inc
  • Basketball
    • Sunbury Basketball Association
    • Big V Basketball
  • Lawn Bowls
    • Royal Victorian Bowls Association - Metro
    • Victorian Ladies' Bowls Association
  • Cricket
  Sunbury Cricket Club,Clarke Oval 
    • Gisborne and District Cricket Association
  • Dancing
    • Classique School Of Dance
    • Flash Dance
    • Sunbury school of Calisthenics
    • Hotpink Dance Centre
  • Football
    • Sunbury United (Victorian State League 2)
    • Sunbury United Junior Football Club
  • Golf
    • Golfers play at the course of the Goonawarra Golf Club at Francis Boulevard, Sunbury.[18]
  • Horse Riding
    • Sunbury Pony Club
    • Sunbury Riding Centre
  • Girl Guides
    • Sunbury Wongguri Guides (Age 7–11 years)
    • Sunbury Kamballa Guides (Age 11–14 years, 14–17 years)
  • Scouts

Scouting in Sunbury has a long history and tradition with 1st sunbury existing continually for over fifty years

    • 1st Sunbury Scout Group Joeys, Cubs, Scouts
    • 3rd Sunbury Scout Group Joeys, Cubs, Scouts
    • Koora Koora Cup (Sunbury) Venturer Unit (District Unit)
    • Wurundjeri Rover Crew (incorporating both 1st and 3rd Sunbury
  • Swimming
    • Sunbury Amateur Swimming Club
    • Aqua Wolves Swimming Club
  • Tennis
    • Sunbury Lawn Tennis Club
    • Mt. Carmel Tennis Club

Historical books on Sunbury district and identities

  • Serle, Geoffrey. The Golden Age A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1963. (gold, squatters and government)
  • Spreadbrough Robert and Anderson, Hugh. Victorian Squatters, Red Rooster, Ascot Vale, 1983. (detailed maps of squatters runs in the district)
  • Turner, Henry Giles, A History of the Colony of Victoria: from its discovery to its absorption in the Commonwealth of Australia, Vols 1 & 2, Melbourne, 1904.
  • O'Brien, Antony. Shenanigans on the Ovens Goldfields: the 1859 election, Artillery Publishing, Hartwell, 2005. (details on the Bolinda Company gold scam and 'Big'Clarke's role in Upper House)


Sunbury is located in the City of Hume represented by Cr Ann Potter and Cr Jack Ogilvie, the State seat of Macedon, Ms Joanne Duncan MP, and the Federal Seat of Calwell Ms Maria Vamvakinou MHR. However the AEC recently at the next federal election Sunbury will be moved into the federal Division of McEwen held by Mr Rob Mithcell

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Sunbury (State Suburb)". 2006 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  2. ^ Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
  3. ^ The Age Travel Guide, accessed 8 March 2009
  4. ^ Sunbury 3429, accessed 8 March 2009
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Meyer Eidelson, The Melbourne Dreaming: A Guide to the Aboriginal Places of Melbourne, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, (1997; 2000). ISBN 0-85575-306-4
  8. ^ Bowdler, Sandra, 1999, A study of Indigenous ceremonial ("Bora") sites in eastern Australia, Centre for Archaeology, University of Western Australia, paper delivered at "Heritage Landscapes: Understanding Place &Communities" conference, Southern Cross University, Lismore, November 1999
  9. ^ Frankel, David 1982 Earth rings at Sunbury, Victoria. Archaeology in Oceania 17: 83-89.
  10. ^ Premier Postal History, Post Office List,, retrieved 2008-04-11 
  11. ^ Serle,The Golden Age, pp.146–150
  12. ^ Punch, 2 December 1858, p.149
  13. ^ Punch 9 February 1860, p. 21 see also O'Brien, Shenanigans, Ch. 3 for an insight and cartoons of 1850s, see also M. Clarke, "Big" Clarke for a comprehensive family history
  14. ^ Spreadbrough, Victorian Squatters
  15. ^ M. Clarke, "Big" Clarke
  16. ^ "Sunbury Electrification Project Overview". Victorian State Government Department of Transport. Retrieved 25 June 2011. 
  17. ^ Full Points Footy, Sunbury,, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  18. ^ Golf Select, Goonawarra,, retrieved 2009-05-11 

External links

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