Footscray, Victoria

Infobox Australian Place | type = suburb
name = Footscray
city = Melbourne
state = vic

caption = Paisley Street in central Footscray
lga = City of Maribyrnong
area = 5
postcode = 3011
pop = 11,401 (2006)Census 2006 AUS | id = SSC21283 | name = Footscray (State Suburb) | accessdate = 2007-09-29 | quick = on]
propval = $440,000 [cite web
title=Footscray Suburb Profile
accessdate = 2008-08-16
stategov = Footscray
fedgov = Gellibrand
near-nw = Maidstone
near-n = Maribyrnong
near-ne = Flemington
near-w = Footscray West
near-e = West Melbourne
near-sw = Kingsville
near-s = Seddon
near-se = Yarraville
dist1 = 5
location1= Melbourne

Footscray is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Its Local Government Area is the City of Maribyrnong. Footscray is characterised by a very diverse, multicultural central shopping area, which reflects the successive waves of immigration experienced by Melbourne, and by Footscray in particular. It was once a centre for Italian and Macedonian migrants, it is now a hub for Vietnamese, and increasingly, North African immigrants in Melbourne. The suburb is named after Foots Cray in southeast England.


The inner western suburbs of Melbourne were traditionally undesirable as residential areas due to the presence of heavy industry, however this has changed dramatically as nearly all of the factories have gone over the last decades, and their products now imported. From the 1950's till 1990's the affordability of housing and availability of employment opportunities in these areas have made them attractive to migrants for many years. Greek, Italian, Macedonian and Croatian migrants arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by Vietnamese in the 1970s and 1980s. Footscray remains a magnet for migrants, most recently for migrants from Horn of Africa countries, such as Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia, but there has been rapid gentrification as younger people seek affordable period housing close to Melbourne city centre.

The mall area and surrounding streets had a reputation for illegal fireworks purchases and drug deals, particularly of heroin.

Gang culture and its associated criminal, drugs and firearms activity have taken place in the area over the past couple of years, raising questions of safety among residents. To help combat this problem, a scheme called 'Project Reduction' was implemented in 2006. Under the scheme, drug addicts and dealers will be banned from Footscray, as well as burglars, shoplifters and people with assault convictions if they are found to be drug addicted or gang related in any way, shape or form. []


The Footscray Market is a fresh produce and seafood market, catering particularly to the various ethnicities and local restaurants. Another large market in Footscray is Little Saigon, which opened in 1992 to cater to the growing Asian population, but now has customers from all backgrounds. Little Saigon is noisy and crowded, with a wide array of tropical fruits and Asian produce.

Restaurants in Footscray are mostly Vietnamese or Chinese, however there are many Ethiopian cafes and restaurants and Indian restaurants. There also exists several pubs that serves contemporary Australian food.


Footscray has been the setting of several Australian movies, the most notable being Romper Stomper which was filmed in and around Footscray in 1992. It deals with a fictional gang of neo-Nazi skinheads and their battle against Vietnamese immigrants. Not all scenes were filmed locally. The "Footscray Railway Station" featured in the movie has a pedestrian underpass, while the real station has an overpass for foot traffic; the station used was the sports entrance of Richmond station. The film Metal Skin (1994) was also set in and around Footscray.

The Croatian Australian Association's headquarters are located in Footscray, serving the large Croatian community in the area. Other support and social groups include Macedonian, African, Albanian, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Bosnian, Italian, Polish, Serbian, Spanish, Latin American and Vietnamese.

The Footscray-Yarraville City Band rehearses weekly and performs throughout the year locally, nationally and internationally. They conduct an annual Carols by Candlelight event each December, held in the Yarraville Gardens.

The Tết Lunar Year Festival is held each year in Footscray. It is a vibrant, colourful and amazing festival, featuring dancing dragons, live music, food stalls, theme park rides and fireworks in the late evening.

The Footscray Club is a social club that has been part of Footscray since 1894. This was the original Footscray Cycle Club when cycling became quite popular in Australia in the 19th century. By 1909 the club had build a permanent site on Paisley street where it still stands today. Early in the last century the club evoloved into a purely local social club where members of the local community meet and socialize to this day.

The Footscray Historical Society works on a number of local fronts to record and preserve the history of the area. The Society has an active membership who take part in a range of activities to assist this endeavour. Records such as rare books, business records and correspondence are held at the Society's headquarters at Ercildoune, built in 1876 as a branch of the National Bank of Australasia. The Society owns this historic building and has had the interior and exterior restored. Tours, forums and discussions are held regularly.

Footscray is at the centre of the Kariwara Scout district of Scouts Australia. Started in 1909, the 1st Footscray Scout hall is a historic building next to the Footscray police station in Hyde St. 3rd Footscray is the hall seen from the railway line and no longer has youth programs but is home to adult training. The 2nd Footscray Scout hall has a modern brick hall after the first hall burnt down in 1982. The group has programs for children aged 7 to 26 and meets at Guadion park in Barkly St. The 10th Footscray Scout group is in Essex St next to the YMCA and has programs for 7 to 15 year olds. The 5th Footscray group is opposite Seddon station and has programs for 6 to 15 year olds. All are part of Scouts Australia.


The Footscray Community Arts Centre is an old bluestone building with an amphitheatre which is home to the Women's Circus, exhibitions, art studios and workshops and is located alongside the Maribyrnong River. Their programs include workshops for people of all ages, a Community Cultural Development Artist Residency program and ArtLife - a program for people with disabilities to participate in arts activities and develop life skills.

The Melbourne Museum of Printing located in Footscray is open for public visits, classes for students of typography and the artist's access studio. Visitors are able to see various facets of typesetting and printing, including Gutenberg's invention of movable types, typesetting (by hand) with movable types, Linotype machine (hot metal composition), Ludlow machine (hot metal for large or fancy type), engravings needed to print an illustration and stereotypes (duplicates of typesettings).

The Trocadero Art Space is a recently opened arts venue exhibiting new and contemporary art in the heart of Footscray. The space consists of two purpose-built interior exhibition spaces and as an outdoor, street-exposed exhibition space.

are a large Footscray based performance group who make oversized puppets, combining the elements of puppetry, live music, visual and physical theatre to create a notable performance. Snuff Puppets have toured over sixteen countries, including Indonesia, Japan, China, Brazil, Western and Eastern Europe.

Snuff Puppets have been working in Footscray since 1992 and are based in the historic Footscray Drill Hall, which they currently share with The Woman's Circus, whilst the Footscray Community Arts Centre is being renovated.

The Big West Festival is a leading contemporary community arts festival held every two years in Footscray and surrounding suburbs, and is the largest arts Festival west of the city. Big West 2007 will run November 23 - December 2

Footscray has a rich history of music and Brass bands, currently being home to the Footscray-Yarraville City Band and the Hyde Street Youth Band. These bands go back a long time with Hyde Street being established in 1928. It has contributed exceedingly well to the history of the region as the band played the official theme song for the Footscray Football Club (now Western Bulldogs) while they were playing at the Whitten Oval. The Footscray-Yarravile band is also well known and successful. It is one of only 5 A-Grade Brass bands in Victoria and has proved successful in the National Championships winning very recently and coming second in 2007 with a first in the marching division.

Community initiatives

Grasslands Organic Grocery is a non-profit community initiative, established in March 1997, offering disounts in the store for concession card holders.


Footscray is home of the Western Bulldogs, an Australian rules football team which plays in the Australian Football League. The team was known as the Footscray Football Club until 1996, and played its home games at the Whitten Oval, which is now used only as the club's training ground.

Flemington Racecourse, the home of the Melbourne Cup, is across the Maribyrnong River to the northeast in the neighbouring suburb of Flemington, immediately opposite Footscray Park, the second largest botanical garden in Victoria.

Footscray Cycling Club promotes road racing and criterium racing, whilst more generally cyclists are represented by [ MazzaBUG (MaribyrnongBicycle User Group)] . See also Maribyrnong River Trail & Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail.

The football club Croatia Melbourne was founded in Leeds Street, Footscray in 1953. Today it bears the name Melbourne Knights FC, and although now play in the Victorian Foxtel Cup, were crowned National Champions in 1994/95 and 1995/96.


The Footscray Cricket Club was founded in 1883 and for the first 113 years of its existence was also situated at the Western Oval (now Whitten Oval) until 1996 when combined pressure exerted by the Footscray Football Club and state-government-appointed commissioners to the City of Maribyrnong saw the club relocated to the Mervyn G. Hughes Oval.

Until the test cricket debut of the Melbourne Cricket Club's Brad Hodge in December 2005, the Footscray Cricket Club had produced the most Test players of any Melbourne based district cricket club. Footscray's Test representatives in order of debut are Ron Gaunt, Les Joslin, Ken Eastwood, Alan Hurst, Ray Bright, Merv Hughes, Tony Dodemaide and Colin Miller.

The club won its only District First Eleven premiership under the captaincy of Lindsay James in 1979/80


The headquarters of Lonely Planet Publications are located in eastern Footscray on the banks of the Maribyrnong River, adjacent to the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail.

The eastern portion of Footscray, in the fork between the Yarra River and Maribyrnong River, contains railway yards, the Melbourne Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market, and Appleton and Swanson Docks which were the site of the 1998 Australian waterfront dispute in Melbourne. In 2005, the State Government announced the closure of the Melbourne Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market to make way for an extensive redevelopment of the Port of Melbourne and the construction of new freight rail links to the area.

While many factories and warehouses are still to be found in and around the suburb of Footscray, many former industrial sites are being transformed into modern housing estates. Perhaps the largest of these is the former Footscray Ammunition Factory in a prime elevated position overlooking the banks of the Maribyrnong River with views across to Flemington Racecourse and Melbourne city centre.


There are many well known Melbourne identities who have always proudly associated themselves with the suburb of Footscray, often displaying their humble origins as a badge of honour. The late footballer and TV personality, Ted Whitten (also known universally as "Mr Football") was perhaps prime among them, although it has to be said that he was in fact recruited from nearby Braybrook.

Ernie Sigley is another former TV presenter and radio compare who associated strongly with Footscray and Maidstone. Other personalities include Merv Hughes (former cricketer), cartoonist Michael Leunig, Victorian state government Greens Member of Parliament Colleen Hartland, Ray Borner (former basketballer) and the comedian Russell Gilbert.

A local furniture store owner (and TV personality of sorts), Franco Cozzo, an immigrant from Italy was well known for his TV commercials in which he mispronounced Footscray as "Food-a-scrye". Unfortunately, this had such an all pervasive influence that to this day people immediately recall this incorrect pronunciation, wittingly or otherwise.

The Infamous Footscrayzy Sign

Another well known mispronunciation is the infamous "Footscrayzy" sign at the intersection between Waverley Street and Orford Street in Maribyrnong. The sign was originally placed at the intersection with the correct spelling, but later graffitied with silver spray paint to add the soon to be famous "zy" on the end. Although this may have been intended as a slur at the time, traffic was reasonably heavy at this intersection during peak times. This allowed the sign to gain significant popularity with the general public. The local authority sought to replace the sign, this time raising it high off the ground to avoid further "modification". Due to the popularity of the "Footscrayzy" icon however, the new sign was quickly modified again by the general public.

The sign's popularity is immediately identifiable by the "Footscrayzy Sign Society" group within the Facebook social networking site. It is not known exactly when the original Footscrayzy sign came about, however members of the "Footscrayzy Sign Society" have noted they can recall driving past it for 15 years or more.

Educational institutions

Some schools in the immediate Footscray area are:

*Footscray Primary School (previously known as Geelong Road Primary School, Footscray Primary School offers the Primary Years Programme of the International Baccalaureate, as well as a Vietnamese Bilingual Programme)
* Footscray North Primary School mistaken for being in the suburb of Maidstone but technically in Footscray.
*Footscray City Primary School (also known as Hyde Street, which offers a state curriculum and a smaller Steiner stream).
*St Monica's Primary School
*St John's School
*St John's Primary School
*Footscray City College (secondary school, previously known as Footscray Technical College).
* [ Gilmore Girls College] (secondary school, previously known as Footscray Girls Secondary College).

There are also two campuses in Footscray of Victoria University.

Public library

Footscray Public Library is a large public library with a large range of services and facilities for members. These services include pre-school story times, orientation tours, reference and information services to assist with research needs and introduction to the internet classes. There is also a housebound service for those unable to visit the library.

Facilities include public internet access and word processing facilities, photocopiers, study carrels, local studies/family history room, conference rooms and discussion rooms, baby change room and community notice boards.

The library has not only books for hire but DVDs, Music CDs and CD-ROMs


The health needs of Footscray and surrounding residents are served by the Western General Hospital. The Western General is a large teaching and research hospital responsible for providing a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient acute health services. The hospital currently conducts research in gastroenterology, colorectal cancer, emergency care, oncology, respiratory medicine, sleep disorders, and vascular surgery.

Key services at the Western Hospital include acute medical and surgical services, intensive and coronary care, emergency services, renal services, specialist drug and alcohol services, aged care and palliative care.

The Western Region Health Centre was established in 1964. Services include an African community worker, refugee health nurse, women’s health nurse, dieticians, youth health nurse, diabetic educator, podiatrist, counsellors and physiotherapists. Visiting specialists include a general surgeon and paediatrician. Pathology services and Dental services are co-located on site.

Places of worship

There are many religious organisations and places of worship in Footscray, including Anglican, Buddhist, Catholic, Church of Christ, Lutheran, Orthodox, Evangelical Christian, Pentecostal and Uniting Church. There is a prayer room at the Footscray Park campus of Victoria University provided by the Islamic Society, as well as a multi-denominational prayer room on campus. Apart from this, there are a couple of mosques on rented places across Footscray.


Three free, weekly suburban newspapers are distributed in Footscray. The Western Times is part of the News Corporation-owned Leader Newspapers group; The Footscray Mail is part of the Fairfax Community Newspapers Victoria and the Star which is produced by the Star News Group(covering Footscray, Yarraville & Braybrook). They are distributed every Wednesday.

The Western times is now known as the Maribyrnong Leader.


* [ "Local History" - Footscray Historical Society]
* [ Maribyrnong City Council - Official Website]

See also

* "Romper Stomper", an Australian film set in Footscray
* Footscray railway station, Melbourne
* City of Footscray - the former local government area of the same name.

External links

* [ Footscray City College]
* [ Footscray Primary School]
* [ Footscray Food Review]
* [ Footscray Cycling Club]
* [ The Footscray-Yarraville City Band]
* [ Footscray Community Arts Centre]
* [ The Melbourne Museum of Printing]
* [ The Trocadero Art Space]
* [ The Snuff Puppets]
* [ The Footscray Club]

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