It is in many ways a small and unassuming suburb, nestling in Melbourne’s inner north. Parts of it don’t even bear the name of the suburb: the northern portion is Croxton (one of the great lost suburbs of Melbourne) and the southern portion is Westgarth (one of the great found suburbs of Melbourne). Only a fairly narrow strip in the middle is really considered Northcote by most people. And that’s the way Northcote wants it.

Northcote likes to keep things quiet. Let the Croxton Hotel be the place for loud music, the Westgarth Cinema be the place for noisy films. Northcote keeps its secrets and bides its time. The Northcote Plaza shopping centre – don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it, you weren’t supposed to – boasts what may be the quietest Kmart outlet in the world. The Northcote Library boasts – or rather, does not boast at all – one of the greatest collections of obscure theological documents to be found outside of Qumran, Mecca or Rome.

In the land behind what is now Northcote Plaza, there once sat a brick quarry. At least, that was what people were told, and in truth, many bricks were made there. But that was not the true purpose of the quarry. There is a secret buried there. Some say it is a fragment of God Himself, a piece that He chose to store there for His own ineffable reasons. Some say that it is the keystone of the gates of Hell. Others espouse more exotic theories: that it is the left wing of Lucifer that he dropped in his Fall, or a small but terrifying heavy gemstone in which is entrapped the essence of Hastur the Unspeakable.

Whatever it is, it was a simple matter of getting too close to it that caused the closure of the brick quarry some decades back, and caused the subsequent attempt to fill in the pit left behind with the heaviest industrial refuse that could be found. But even that has failed. The buried secret makes its way to the top, pushing out the dirt and rocks that attempt to bury it, and in the process creating the hill of All Nations Park (which now stands where quarry then tip formerly did). The recent decision of the Darebin CIty Council to allow the creation of an expensive, ugly, and above all, heavy, high rise tower on that same site is only the latest attempt to keep the secret buried.

It remains to be seen whether it will succeed.

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