Whittlesea is a town, 31 km north-east of the CBD.
Originally called Whittlesey, Whittlesea contains some semi-rural areas and has some of Melbourne’s best preserved remnant vegetation. Its main road is Plenty Road (formerly the Goulburn Valley Highway) which crosses open pastoral land to the north before joining with the Calder Freeway.
At the ABS 2016 census, Whittlesea had a population of 5,611 people. Of these 2,784 were male and 2,828 were female. With suburbs to its north and south such as Mernda and Bulla respectively, it has been projected that by 2031 this figure will increase to 120 000 residents.
The suburb was settled by European immigrants, with the first farms, such as ‘Thirlmere’ established in the 1850s. A railway from Melbourne opened in 1889, initially to Whittlesea and then extended to Yallourn in 1891. As the town grew it took on its current name of Whittlesea.
Whittlesea township was initially a farming centre and much of the land was taken up by market gardens and dairy farming. As with many rural townships there is still some evidence of this today, with local farmers markets drawing people into town on a weekly basis.
The area around Plenty Road is considered to be the “heart of Whittlesea” and is still the main commercial area of the suburb.
Whittlesea also has a diverse racial heritage, with the original settlers being predominantly Scottish, Welsh, and Cornish. However nowadays there are a sizable number of people from all over the world that call Whittlesea home.
Life in Whittlesea
Whittlesea has a diverse range of restaurants and shopping choices. Mernda and Whittlesea feature the major mall shopping areas in the area, with Plenty Valley Shopping Centre and Mernda Central being the largest multi-use shopping centres in Melbourne’s north-west. The smaller shops offer a good range of local produce (e.g. bakeries, butchers, fruit shops, organic food stores). There are a number of voluntary organisations that run community services such as community kitchens, community health centre etc. Also present are a number of professional services including accountants, lawyers and real estate agents to name a few.
Whittlesea is in the upper catchment area of Whitehorse Primary School and the larger Whittlesea Secondary College. A number of private primary schools also operate in the local area.
The suburb contains two local country clubs: Bulla Golf Club and Mernda Golf Club. There are also a number of parks, reserves and playing fields across the suburb, including plenty common, Plenty Hill Reserve and Fisk Reserve.
Whittlesea has a range of regular community events (e.g. farmers markets). Most residents participate in town events such as dances, music nights etc., along with supporting school athletics competitions etc.. There is also a wide range of sporting clubs that cater for both males and females. Almost all residents have access to a local public transport system (e.g. train, bus, tram and bicycle). The Whittlesea railway station is the only major train terminus in Victoria, connecting Melbourne’s north- west and Whittlesea. The suburb is also serviced by a number of medical centers located on Plenty Road and Plenty Valley Drive.
Whittlesea has many facilities that cater for those with disabilities. It contains the Whittlesea Activity and Recreation Centre (WARC) within the Mernda Sports Complex, as well as a range of parks and reserve areas which offer accessible play areas throughout the suburb.
Some historical interests in Whittlesea are Westgarthtown, Hawkstowe Park, Drystone Walls, and Castle Hill Farm and Vineyard.
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