Sunbury (//) is a town located 42.4 kilometres (26.3 mi) north-west of Melbourne‘s central business district, in the state of Victoria, Australia. Its local government area is the City of Hume. At the 2016 census, Sunbury had a population of 36,084. Statistically, Sunbury is considered part of Greater Melbourne.
Sunbury is a north-western suburb of Melbourne. The Victorian government’s 2009 decision to extend the Urban Growth Boundary saw Sunbury absorbed by Melbourne’s suburban expansion in 2011.
The Sunbury area has several important Aboriginal archaeological sites, including five earth rings, which were identified in the 1970s and 1980s, and believed to have been used for ceremonial gatherings. Records of corroborees and other large gatherings during early settlement attest to the importance of the area for Aboriginal people of the Wurundjeri tribe.
Sunbury was first settled in 1836, by George Evans and William Jackson. It was Jackson and his brother, Samuel, who named the township Sunbury, after Sunbury-on-Thames, in Middlesex, England when it was established in 1857. The Post Office opened on 13 January 1858.
Sunbury’s connection with the history and development of Victoria is influential because of its most famous and powerful citizen, “Big” Clarke. Clarke’s role as one of the biggest squatters in the colony and his power and position within the Victorian Legislative Council were critical in the early days of Victoria.
During the early days of self-government in the Colony of Victoria, post 1851, there was a continual struggle in parliament, between the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council for the ascendancy and control of government. It was the Council members, such as Clarke, who attempted to negate the excess of manhood suffrage, republicanism and Chartism as expressed in the Assembly, in order to protect their own squatters’ agenda and position.
“Big” Clarke as a member of the Victorian ‘bunyip aristocracy’ also frustrated any legislative reforms to opening the lands to small farm selections. Melbourne Punch depicted Clarke in anti-squatter cartoons, such as “The man in Possession”
In 1859, “Big” Clarke was involved in a scandal around the discovery of gold on his holdings in nearby Deep Creek. Shares in the Bolinda company soared, Clarke sold his shares at the peak of the rush before the fraud was exposed. The gold assay was actually ‘salted’, possibly via a shotgun blast of golden pellets into the samples. Clarke claimed the rich assay was proved when washed in a soup bowl. The ever barbed Melbourne Punch explained how this fraud worked in a cartoon of a chipped Chinese Willow Pattern plate titled “The Soup Plate”.
In 1837, William “Big” Clarke, came to the area, and gained vast pastoral licences encompassing Sunbury, Clarkefield and Monegeetta.
In 1874, Clarke’s son – the future Sir William Clarke, 1st Baronet – built a mansion, which resides on an estate named “Rupertswood“, after his own son, Rupert. This estate also has access to a train station, which was used to transport bales of hay to Adelaide. Though the private station was constructed in the late 19th century the Clarkes did not pay the railways for its construction until the 1960s (Rupertswood railway Station no longer exists after the fast rail upgrade. There were two trains each way to and from Melbourne stopping daily during school term only, but now it is only a disused platform). The Clarkes also had a connection to the Kelly Gang story via their police connection with Supt. Hare.
The younger William was the president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, and it was through his position that the touring English cricket team came to spend Christmas of 1882 at Rupertswood. On Christmas Eve, the English team played a social game of cricket against a local team, which they won. Lady Clarke took one or more bails, burnt them, and interred the Ashes in a small purple velvet pouch, which she presented to the English Captain, Ivo Bligh. She proposed that the ashes be used as a perpetual trophy for matches between the two countries. Later the remains of the burnt bails were placed in a small urn. The Ashes have since become one of the world’s most sought-after sporting trophies.
In 1922, the Clarke family sold the property to H V McKay, the owner of the Sunshine Harvester Works, whose estate subsequently onsold it in 1927 to the Salesian Catholic order. Until recently the mansion and surrounding property has been used for educational and agricultural purposes, and as a boarding school for students of both academic and agricultural endeavours (Salesian College). The mansion has now been restored, and is used for weddings and other formal functions. The school, known as Salesian College, Rupertswood, is still located on the property.
In the early 1970s the area (which was then still largely rural) became famous in Australia as the site of the Sunbury Pop Festival, which was held annually from 1972 to 1975.
The demographics/culture of Sunbury up until the mid-1980s was predominantly White and some other minor ethnic groups. It has only been in the last 20 years that Sunbury has seen an increase of other nationalities (predominately from an immigration from New Zealand and the United Kingdom).
Sunbury’s residents represent diverse cultural backgrounds, partly due to the working-class background, and proximity to major manufacturing and transport hubs, with Melbourne Airport only being 17.5 kilometres (11 mi) from the township. A recent trend for people who work in the Melbourne CBD to trade longer commute times for a more economic lifestyle (due to cheaper housing), has seen the population of Sunbury grow in number, with numerous new housing estates ringing the borders of the established township. Sunbury’s population was recorded as being 25,086 in the 2001 census, and is estimated at approximately 34,000 in 2006, making it the 38th largest urban centre by population in Australia. Sunbury has a high Caucasian population.
Retail and entertainment
Sunbury has a town centre containing Jaycar Electronics, Calco Electrical, Coles, Woolworths, Foodworks and IGA supermarkets as well as Big W, Harris Scarfe and Target, Good Guys, Godfrey’s department stores. Away from the town centre is an Aldi Supermarket, and Bunnings Warehouse hardware store. There are also many food outlets located in Sunbury such as Nando’s, Vics Cuisine, Rocquette, Restaurant 77 and a variety of pizza restaurants, fish and chip shops and Asian restaurants. Sunbury also has many great little cafes to dine at such as The Spotted Owl, Sacco Coffee, cafe Circe and Mac’s Lounge. Sunbury has a Reading Cinema, three Hotels and The Alley Sunbury nightclub, a 330-person capacity nightclub located 150 metres from the railway station and taxi hubs.
Sunbury Railway Station is connected by Metro services to Melbourne and by V/Line services on the Bendigo train line to both Melbourne and country Victoria. V/Line services are not as frequent as those on the metropolitan Metro service — an approximate hourly frequency is provided by V/Line on weekdays, although on weekends service levels can be as infrequent as once every 80 minutes.
The State Government electrified the tracks between Sunbury and Sydenham in a $270 million investment, bringing more frequent passenger services to the town – these Metro services started running on 18 November 2012.
- Sunbury West Primary School
- Sunbury Primary School
- Sunbury Heights Primary School
- Killara Primary School
- Kismet Park Primary School
- St Anne’s Primary School
- Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School
- Goonawarra Primary School
Secondary schools and high schools
- Sunbury Downs College (formerly Sunbury Post-primary School)
- Sunbury College (formerly Sunbury Secondary College, Sunbury High School)
- Salesian College
- Sunbury and Macedon Ranges Special School
Sunbury is represented in the following sporting leagues:
- Sunbury Little Athletics Centre Inc 
- Australian rules football
- Sunbury Football Club (Ballarat Football League)
- Sunbury Kangaroos Junior Football Club (Riddell District Football League) – club official website
- Rupertswood Football Club (Victorian Amateur Football Association) – club official website
- East Sunbury Sporting Group – Seniors and juniors Football Club (Essendon District Football League) – club official website
- Australian Bandy League is based here.
- Sunbury Badminton Club Inc
- Sunbury Titans Baseball club
- Sunbury Basketball Association
- Big V Basketball
- Sunbury Bicycle User Group
- Sunbury Cricket Club,Clarke Oval
- Gisborne and District Cricket Association
- East Sunbury Cricket Club
- Ashfield Cricket Cub
- Sunbury United Cricket Club
- Rupertswood Cricket Cub
- Classique School Of Dance
- Flash Dance
- Sunbury school of Calisthenics
- Hotpink Dance Centre
- Shirley Rogers Academy of Dance
- Concept Performing Arts
- Girl Guides
- Sunbury Wongguri Guides (Age 7–11 years)
- Sunbury Kamballa Guides (Age 11–14 years, 14–17 years)
- Golfers play at the course of the Goonawarra Golf Club at Francis Boulevard, Sunbury.
- Sunbury Golf Range located just off Sunbury Road on the way to Melbourne Airport
- Horse riding
- Sunbury Pony Club
- Sunbury Riding Centre
- Lawn Bowls
- Royal Victorian Bowls Association – Metro
- Victorian Ladies’ Bowls Association
- Rugby league
- Scouts Scouting in Sunbury has a long history and tradition with 1st sunbury existing continually for over fifty years
- 1st Sunbury Scout Group Joeys, Cubs, Scouts,
- 3rd Sunbury Scout Group Joeys, Cubs, Scouts,
- Koora Koora Cup (Sunbury) Venturer Unit (1st Sunbury Unit but incorporating 3rd Sunbury as well as 1st Diggers Rest)
- Wurundjeri Rover Crew (incorporating both 1st and 3rd Sunbury)
- (Victorian State League 2)
- Sunbury United Junior Football Club
- Sunbury Softball Association
- Sunbury Amateur Swimming Club
- Aqua Wolves Swimming Club
- Table Tennis
- The Sunbury & District Table Tennis Association – club official website
- Sunbury Lawn Tennis Club
- Mt. Carmel Tennis Club
Historical books on Sunbury district and identities
- O’Brien, Antony. Shenanigans on the Ovens Goldfields: the 1859 election, Artillery Publishing, Hartwell, 2005. (details on the Bolinda Company gold scam and ‘Big’Clarke’s role in Upper House)
- Serle, Geoffrey. The Golden Age A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, 1963. (gold, squatters and government)
- Spreadbrough Robert and Anderson, Hugh. Victorian Squatters, Red Rooster, Ascot Vale, 1983. (detailed maps of squatters runs in the district)
- Turner, Henry Giles, A History of the Colony of Victoria: from its discovery to its absorption in the Commonwealth of Australia, Vols 1 & 2, Melbourne, 1904.
Sunbury is represented by Cr Ann Potter, Cr Jack Ogilvie and Cr Steve (Jack) Medcraft in the Jacksons Creek Ward of the City of Hume. At State level, Sunbury is in the Electoral district of Sunbury, represented by Josh Bull . Federally, Sunbury is located in the Division of McEwen, represented by Rob Mitchell.
- Zach Guthrie, Australian rules, Australian rules footballer
- Jamie Maclaren, Football, Soccer player for and Australia
- Mark Blicavs, Australian rules, Australian rules footballer
- Cameron Guthrie, Australian rules, Australian rules footballer
- Mark Johnson, Australian rules footballer
- David Schwarz, Australian rules footballer
- Nathan Phillips, Actor
- James Kelly, Australian rules footballer
- Matthew Egan, Australian rules, Australian rules footballer
- Cameron Wight, Australian rules, Australian rules footballer
- Jack Lyall (Singer/Performer)
- Shirley McKerrow (politics), first woman elected Federal President of any Australian political party
- Cassi Van Den Dungen, model
- , Basketball Analyst, Sometime Three-Point Shooting Partner of Stephen Curry, The Starters
- Michael Browning Manager AC/DC rockband, Billy Thorpe, Noise Works.
- Shire of Bulla – A former local government area of which Sunbury was a part.
- Salesian College
- Sunbury Bus Service
- Sunbury Downs College
- Sunbury Industrial School
- Sunbury Lunatic Asylum
- Sunbury Pop Festival
- Sunbury railway station
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). “Sunbury (Urban Centre/Locality)”. 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
- Butler, Susan, ed. (2009). Macquarie Dictionary (5th ed.). Sydney: Macquarie Dictionary Publishers Pty Ltd. 1952 pages. ISBN 978-1-876-42966-9. Archived from the original on 12 January 2014.
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 28 January 2010.
- Meyer Eidelson, The Melbourne Dreaming: A Guide to the Aboriginal Places of Melbourne, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, (1997; 2000). ISBN 0-85575-306-4
- Bowdler, Sandra, 1999, A study of Indigenous ceremonial (“Bora”) sites in eastern Australia, Centre for Archaeology, University of Western Australia, paper delivered at “Heritage Landscapes: Understanding Place &Communities” conference, Southern Cross University, Lismore, November 1999 Archived 14 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- Frankel, David 1982 Earth rings at Sunbury, Victoria. Archaeology in Oceania 17: 83-89.
- Premier Postal History, Post Office List, archived from the original on 10 May 2008, retrieved 11 April 2008
- Serle,The Golden Age, pp.146–150
- Punch, 2 December 1858, p.149
- Punch 9 February 1860, p. 21 see also O’Brien, Shenanigans, Ch. 3 for an insight and cartoons of the 1850s, see also M. Clarke, “Big” Clarke for a comprehensive family history
- Spreadbrough, Victorian Squatters
- M. Clarke, “Big” Clarke
- “Sunbury Electrification Project Overview”. Victorian State Government Department of Transport. Archived from the original on 28 March 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2011.
- “Sunbury Little Athletics”. www.sunburylac.org.au. Archived from the original on 17 March 2018. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- Full Points Footy, Sunbury, archived from the original on 9 March 2009, retrieved 15 April 2009
- “Members”. worldbandy.com. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- Golf Select, Goonawarra, archived from the original on 24 September 2009, retrieved 11 May 2009
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Sunbury Online
- Hume City Council
- Sunbury Community Festival
- Sunbury Radio 3NRG
- Sunbury Family History Society
- Sunbury Swimming Club