North Melbourne

The area today known as North Melbourne has a long association with insanity. Originally named Hotham, after J.S. Hotham, a serial killer whose murders roughly defined the original boundaries of the area (and whose capture and execution in 1880 were entirely overshadowed by those of Ned Kelly at the same time). Hotham, who had plagued the area for decades, had originally been transported for sheep stealing, but by the time he completed his sentence and was freed, his criminal interests had changed. It is not known exactly how this transpired, although it is generally assumed that he learned the arts of murder from fellow convicts.

Anxious to disassociate themselves from the legacy of Hotham, the town fathers moved quickly to change the name to the more appealing “North Melbourne” in order to cash in on the marketing power of the Melbourne brand, and when the township was made a municipality in 1887 – one of the first ones outside of Melbourne itself in the whole state – it was created under the name of North Melbourne. But by that time, it was already too late to correct the association of North Melbourne with a lack of mental health.

The first asylum for the insane was built as early as the 1850s, before Hotham’s predations even began, and the foundation of perpetual second raters, the North Melbourne Football Club, in 1869 was widely seen as further evidence of the prevailing insanity of the residents. Indeed, in some neighbouring rival suburbs, the suburb was better known as “North Madness”.

Things began to change for the better as the twentieth century progressed, as North Melbourne became an important industrial hub, and into the twenty-first century as the suburb slowly gentrified. Between these two periods, however the suburb was characterised by cheap rents on empty factories and falling down houses, which of course meant that it became a haven for bohemians – although never quite enough of them to make North Melbourne “cool”. It is rumoured that this may have something to do with the activities of Nazi war criminal Heinrich Lantz, who is known to have spent several years hiding out in the area in the mid-Fifties, researching the works of J.S. Hotham for reasons unknown but presumably sinister.

It may be that the final chapter in the saga of North Madness is yet to be written.

Suburbs near North Melbourne:

Flemington Parkville Parkville Parkville Carlton North
Flemington North Melbourne Parkville Parkville Parkville
Kensington North Melbourne North Melbourne Parkville University of Melbourne
Kensington North Melbourne North Melbourne Royal Melbourne Hospital University of Melbourne
Kensington North Melbourne North Melbourne North Melbourne MELBOURNE
West Melbourne North Melbourne North Melbourne North Melbourne MELBOURNE
West Melbourne North Melbourne North Melbourne North Melbourne MELBOURNE
West Melbourne West Melbourne West Melbourne MELBOURNE MELBOURNE
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