Coburg North, a residential area 10 km. north of Melbourne, contains the localities of Batman, Merlynston and Newlands. The first two are on the Coburg to Fawkner railway line and the last is east of the Merri Creek.
Coburg North comprised two allotments, each of about one square mile, in the subdivision made in 1839 by the government surveyor, Robert Hoddle. They were divided by the Merri Creek, the western part being quickly subdivided into twenty-five acre blocks for resale. The eastern part became the site of the Coburg district's second village, Newlands, over the Merri Creek from the Pentridge village. The Newlands section was favoured by frontages to the Merri Creek and to its tributary, Edgars Creek. It was distant from rail and tram services and retained a community of market gardeners, dairymen and poulterers until the second world war. The farms were also a source of pollution of the recreational lake reserve on the Merri Creek, which was closed to swimming in 1932 when a child died from an infected cut.
West of the Merri Creek, Coburg North participated in the spread of residential housing between the 1920s and the second world war. An eighty acre estate west of the North Coburg station was marketed as the Merlynston estate, and the North Coburg Progress Association lobbied for the area to be named after the estate. (Merlynston was the name of the daughter of the estate's owner, Donald Bain, who became the Association's president and a Coburg councillor.)
A primary school was opened at Merlynston in 1928 and another between Coburg and Merlynston in 1937. The settlement of the Newlands area came after the second world war. It contains a notable Housing Commission estate between the Coburg cemetery and the Kodak site; notable in the sense that it was an early postwar project which is based on garden suburb and new town principles and has maintained a remarkable state of completeness, apart from the demolition of the shopping centre in the 1990s which had ended its cycle of usefulness to the local community. Newlands primary and high schools opened in 1951 and 1959 respectively, the latter closing in 1992. The most recent school is Batman Automotive College, 1970.
Coburg North has several large reserves. West of the Merri Creek they contain sporting facilities, and east of the creek they are more plentiful, containing both cycle paths and ovals. Kodak Australia occupies a large site, as does the last drive-in theatre in inner-metropolitan Melbourne.
The Newlands Road bridge over the Merri Creek, of bluestone construction (1865), is on the Commonwealth and Victorian historic buildings registers.
The median house price in Coburg North was about 85% of the median price for metropolitan Melbourne between 1987 and 1996.
Broome, Richard, "Coburg Between Two Creeks", Lothian Publishing Company Pty. Ltd., 1987.
"City of Coburg Heritage Conservation and Streetscape Study",
Timothy Hubbard Pty. Ltd., March, 1991.
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