Don’t be fooled by the legends. The Sunshine Harvester Company was of vital importance in the history and growth of Sunshine, and did indeed give the area its name, but the reasons why this name remains decades after the closure of the factory have to do with more than just social inertia – although just as much to do with the industrial heritage of the area.

A lesser known and much smaller factory, serving a very different market, was Fawley Pharmaceuticals, which produced assorted drugs and medicines to supply the hospitals, pharmacies, chemists and surgeries of the surrounding area. Fawley’s primary client was Sunshine Harvester, however, and as such, its fortunes were tied to that company. When the harvesters ceased rolling off the assembly lines, the decision was made by Fawley’s management to close their doors also. A week before their planned closing date, the factory was the site of a daring robbery, in which a large amount of equipment (primarily scientific glassware) and base chemicals was stolen – police estimated that three or more flatbed trucks must have been used to carry the volume of stolen items.

Within a few months, a new industrial concern, albeit a far less legal one, had commenced in the Sunshine area. LSD, in blotter form, was being produced in truly vast quantities by the criminal chemists who had engineered the Fawley break in. And throughout the next decade and more, until 1997, the self-proclaimed Sunshine Acid Company continued to produce some of the finest recreational mind bending chemicals Melbourne has ever seen, making the suburb’s streets a mecca for acid heads of all levels of experience and firmly ensconcing the suburb’s name in the collective imagination. (At one point, during the local council amalgamations of the 1990s, the Kennett government gave serious thought to renaming the suburb and its train station in order to frustrate would-be drug users.)

The business was shut down by a series of police raids in late 1997 and early 1998, although it is estimated that the SAC’s products remained available on the streets for at least another year (and even today, there are probably a few fugitive tabs frozen deeply in the back of undefrosted freezers). Several convictions resulted from the raids, although few of them were custodial sentences, as the actual evidence the members of the group were captured with was barely enough to qualify them as dealers, let alone producers, of illegal substances.

Suburbs near Sunshine:

St Albans St Albans St Albans Kealba Keilor East Keilor East
Cairnlea St Albans St Albans Sunshine North Sunshine North Avondale Heights
Deer Park Cairnlea Albion Sunshine North Sunshine North Braybrook
Deer Park Ardeer Albion Sunshine Sunshine Braybrook
Derrimut Sunshine West Sunshine West Sunshine Sunshine Braybrook
Derrimut Derrimut Sunshine West Sunshine West Sunshine Braybrook
Derrimut Derrimut Sunshine West Sunshine West Brooklyn Tottenham
Laverton North Laverton North Laverton North Brooklyn Brooklyn Brooklyn
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