A History of Melbourne Rubbish Tips

I am pretty sure that most people haven’t given much thought to the history of Melbourne rubbish and Melbourne’s municipal tipping sites and landfills. It is, however, interesting to see how many of our famous landmarks and tourist attractions are built on, or once were, designated rubbish sites.

Melbourne Rubbish at Albert Park Lake

Albert Park is one of Melbourne’s treasured landmarks and tourist hot spots. It is currently home to the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix, televised around the globe every year.

You may not realise that the area where the lake is now served as a Melbourne rubbish tip for a period in the late 18th to early 19th centuries.

Melbourne Rubbish at Elwood Foreshore

The St Kilda and Elwood foreshore precinct serves as one of Melbourne’s most popular inner city bay destinations for locals and tourists alike.  Visitors enjoy spending hot summer days on the beach or taking in the vistas across the bay on the walking tracks and bike paths that the area has become well known for.

In the mid to late 19th century the region around Point Ormond, at the beach end of Barkly Street, was designated for “unpopular” activities, including an abattoir, rifle range and rubbish tip.

Melbourne Rubbish at Half Moon Bay & Red Bluff

Historically, Melbourne’s Half Moon Bay and its famed Red Bluff Cliffs were a popular holiday destination for Melbourne locals.

Given that this area has always been a popular destination, sought out for its natural beauty, it is bizarre that the local Sandringham council designated the cliffs as a rubbish tip site.

Yes, strange as it may seem, people used to back up to the cliffs and offload their rubbish straight onto the cliff face. This would be hard to believe, if it wasn’t for photographic evidence, courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

One theory is that council engineers proposed this as a method to backfill the cliffs that were suffering from erosion.

Melbourne Rubbish at Princes Park

No Melbourne list would be complete if it did not include some link to our favourite past time – Aussie Rules Football!

The home of one of Melbourne’s oldest football teams was once a Melbourne rubbish tip. Part of Princes Park was a rubbish site that was cleared to build the stadium that now houses the Carlton Football Club.

It seems that Carlton will not be the only team to have a stadium built on an old Melbourne rubbish site.  Hawthorn Football Club have reputedly secured a large site in Melbourne’s south east to build a new multi-million dollar stadium, the site having served as a Melbourne rubbish landfill in recent times.

Rubbish at Port Fairy

Strictly speaking Port Fairy is not in Melbourne, but being only a couple of hours outside of Melbourne on the magnificent Great Ocean Road, we thought it deserved a mention.

Port Fairy is a lazy little fishing village, which is host to the Port Fairy Folk Festival and is adored by locals and tourists alike that visit this town on their Great Ocean Road meanderings.

Erosion on Port Fairy’s East Beach has uncovered what was once a rubbish tip. Again it seems that another beautiful seaside area was taken for granted and used as a regional rubbish site.

Melbourne Rubbish Sites – The Future

Melbourne currently has some large landfill sites that are reaching the end of their serviceable life. It will be interesting to see what becomes of these large tracts of land in years to come.

There have been some major issues with housing estates and other communities being affected by toxic gasses and contamination from legacy landfill sites. Many of these sites pre-dated the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its control and regulation over the conduct of Melbourne rubbish tip operations. It is hoped that the current landfill sites, which have had to adhere to strict EPA regulations, will be able to be reclaimed for some useful purposes in years to come.

The Melbourne rubbish removal and waste processing landscape is rapidly changing, with more resources being directed towards recycling facilities, and less space being allocated to landfill, so it seems landfills may become confined to the history books in years to come.

Leave a Reply