Brunswick Residents Newsletter, August 2020

This month we ask whether apps like Google are disrupting traffic management. We unravel the history of local boxer Cocoa Jackson – and his namesake. Plus good news for walkers (zebra crossings, hence the picture), and parks. Not so good on planning, and COVID. And the elections are on as planned . . . 24 October, with our regular Candidates Forum by Zoom this year, on 6 October. Read the pasted version here, or go to the Mailchimp copy for better formatting.




Brunswick Residents Network News,

August 2020




October elections confirmed

Election posterDespite media speculation that this year’s council elections might be postponed, Local Government Minister Shaun Leane has announced the elections will proceed as planned on 24 October: “This decision was not made lightly and is based on the best public health advice available.”

BRN will hold our regular Candidates Forum on the evening of Tuesday 6 October. (See below.)

Local Government Victoria has updated its guidelines for candidates to safely campaign, on the advice of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton. Under those revised stage four guidelines, candidates in metropolitan Melbourne are effectively banned from campaigning outside their homes, including doorknocking, leafleting, attending campaign events and advertising on billboards and posters, for as long as stage four restrictions remain. This will advantage any candidates with deep pockets who can pay for postal mail-outs; incumbent councillors; and those already well-known to voters.

Even if stage four restrictions are lifted as planned in mid-September, stage three rules prevent candidates convening or attending meetings in open spaces or private residences, doorknocking and attending community events. They will be allowed to drop election material into people’s letterboxes, hand out leaflets and advertise on posters and billboards.

You must be enrolled by next Friday, 28 August 2020 to be eligible to vote. Voting is compulsory (there is no longer an  exemption for over-70s). There are more details on eligibility and how to stand on the Council website.

BRN Candidates Forum on 6 October

Brunswick Residents Network is not affiliated to any political party, and we do not endorse candidates for the Council elections. However, we think it’s important to get to know potential candidates and their policies, so we will be holding our usual pre-election candidates’ forum.

In the lead up to the Moreland Council elections on 24 October, BRN will run a Zoom meeting for South Ward candidates, on the evening of Tuesday 6 October. Put the date in your diary, and we’ll advertise the full details in coming weeks.

This year, for obvious reasons, we’ll be online, with a brief time for candidate statements, questions from the chair and then audience questions. The final format depends a bit on the number of candidates (nominations close in late September) – most candidates we already know are running have confirmed their attendance.

We hope you’ll join us online on the night. All South Ward candidates are invited to get in touch through our email ( and we’ll let you know arrangements for the forum.

WHAT: South Ward candidates forum for Moreland Council elections

WHEN: Tuesday 6 October

WHERE: Online through Zoom

INFO: More details in next month’s newsletter!





Remembering Cocoa Jackson

IFred Jacksonf you’ve wandered along Lygon Street, you’ve probably walked past Cocoa Jackson Lane, a cobbled laneway just north of Edward Street, and wondered about the name. So who was Cocoa Jackson? 


Once you start Googling, you rapidly get confused: Cocoa Jackson, Coco Jackson, Peter Jackson, Cocoa Peter Jackson. And who the hell is Fred James? Let’s dig into the story, which starts at the end, with plans for a new apartment block on the corner of the laneway.


‘Brunswick East’ by developers Milieu Property is the first apartment project to gain approval under Moreland City Council’s Design Excellence Scorecard. Their six-storey mixed-use building will contain 43 apartments, to be built around the Lygon Cycles building on the corner of Lygon and Edward Streets. To the north, the project borders Cocoa Jackson Lane. It’s a pity, however, that the developers’ PR and publicity misspells the name! 


One local has written to BRN complaining: “Milieu have labelled Cocoa Jackson Lane on its display boards on site, on its website, on the marketing material, and on the real estate websites as Coco Jackson Lane!” 


According to their hipster website, Milieu Property’s proposed project is “designed with the soul of its surroundings in mind, the façade offers glimpses into history around every corner.” Maybe they should learn some more about the history of our neighbourhood, before using it to market Brunswick chic.


The City of Moreland Thematic History (2010) reports that “Cocoa Jackson Lane, named in

2001, commemorates Fred James, a local boxer trainer.” 

Born in 1907, Fred James lived at 71 Edwards Street, Brunswick from 1930 to 1979. He was of Caribbean heritage, with his family originally from Bermuda.

Just off Sydney Road, in the carpark near the corner of Sparta Place and Tripovich Street, you can find a mural [pictured above] featuring James, alongside other famous Brunswick identities such as Ruth Crow, Turbo Brown, and Dot Cheers. The mural explains: “Using the ring name ‘Cocoa Jackson’, Fred was featherweight boxing champion of Australia in 1928-29, at age 21. Fred trained young boxers in East Brunswick and worked in the Melbourne railyards.” 

So how did Fred James become Cocoa Jackson?

It seems Fred’s ring name is a homage to the 19th century boxer Peter Jackson, who won the Australian heavyweight championship on 25 September 1886. Born in the West Indies in 1861, Peter Jackson arrived in Sydney around 1880, worked on the waterfront and took up boxing in 1882. Four years later he was Australian champion. As the Australian Dictionary of Biography explains, Peter Jackson “was one of the finest boxers never to fight for a world championship: John Sullivan refused to defend his title against a black and Corbett avoided Jackson once he gained the heavyweight crown in 1892.” 

After he died of tuberculosis at Roma on 13 July 1901, Peter Jackson was buried in Toowong Cemetery: “After a public subscription, Sydney mason Lewis Page carved a dazzling white Carrara marble monument over Jackson’s grave with an image that looks nothing like Jackson. The inscription repeats what Shakespeare’s Antony said about Julius Caesar: ‘This was a man’.” 

Though Jackson was also an actor who could quote Shakespeare, biographer Richard Broome explains that ‘cocoa’ was one of many racist insults for black pugilists: “Termed the ‘darkey’ or worse early on, Jackson became known as ‘Peter the Great’ or ‘The Black Prince’. He was always deemed a ‘gentleman’ and a ‘real white man’.”

For black boxers in the early 20th Century, Peter Jackson was a striking role model. So when Fred James began fighting in the mid-1920s, it appears he adopted the ring name of Cocoa Jackson. The confusion between the two men is widespread – there are half a dozen listings for a ‘Fred James’ in the Boxing Record, but none of them is our man. Instead, James’ fighting record is listed under ‘Cocoa (Peter) Jackson’, with his birth name cited as ‘Peter Jackson’. Oops! 

 As ‘Cocoa Jackson’, Fred James’ early fights were against other black boxers. In his first professional bout on 2 December 1925, he defeated Jack Bowden for the ‘Australian Coloured Featherweight Title’ at the West Melbourne Stadium. Two months later on 10 February, he lost the rematch. The papers reported: “Jack Bowden, N.S.W., 9st., defeated Cocoa Jackson, 8.11, the defender for the Australian featherweight championship, on points in a twenty-round contest” (The Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser, 12 February 1926, p6).

Given his success as a featherweight, he relocated to New South Wales and began fighting Anglo-Celtic fighters in Sydney and Broken Hill. On 29 July 1927, he took on Tommy Barber at Leichhardt Stadium in Sydney, the first of a series of fights between the two boxers for the Resident Australian Featherweight Title and Australian Feather Title. Jackson was knocked out in the fifth round.

He went on to win or draw his next six bouts against other boxers, before he could again challenge Barber for the title. They met on 19 October 1928 at Leichhardt Stadium in Sydney, with Jackson winning on points after 15 rounds. He held the Australian featherweight title for most of the next year.

Barber and Jackson fought again in January 1929 at Leichhardt Stadium, with the fight ending in a draw. Next, Cocoa Jackson fought Ern Connors to a draw over 15 rounds at Sydney Stadium on 3 July 1929. Finally, on 20 September at Leichhardt Stadium, he was challenged for the title by Tommy Crowle, with Jackson losing on points after 15 rounds.

Newspaper reports explain his shift to training in mid-1930. After he broke his collarbone playing footy, he opened a gym at H. Bates’ Carriers’ Office and Public Hall on Sydney Road (Today, you can still see the striking heritage façade of the Public Hall above the Happy Living craft shop at 400-404 Sydney Road, just south of the Coburg mall).  

As the Sporting Globe explained:

Fred ‘Cocoa’ Jackson, the clever featherweight has opened a gym at Bate’s Hall, Sydney Road, Coburg and already has several promising boys at work. The room is fully equipped and a first-class wrestling mat of full size is available for practice work. ‘Cocoa’ recently returned from an 18 month stay in Sydney where he won the feather title from Tommy Barber and successfully defended it five times in a year. He is having a rest from the ring for some time as the result of a collarbone fractured at football”  (Sporting Globe, 7 May 1930, p12).

In early 1931, Jackson “issued a challenge to fight Young Llew Edwards for the featherweight championship of Australia” (Register News-Pictorial, 21 January 1931, p10). They fought at Fitzroy Stadium on 20 February that year, but after 15 rounds, Jackson lost on points.

He went on to fight 14 more bouts between 1931-35, winning them all, bar one. Then he didn’t fight for another five years, until he took on Bart Craigon in February 1940 at the Bohemia stadium in South Brisbane. Sad tale but true about this comeback by an ageing fighter – he was knocked out in the fifth round and never fought professionally again.

Fred James returned to Victoria and lived on in Brunswick until 1979. As his mural explains: “He was a well-known and respected local and could often be found in The Sporting Club, just yards from his home.”

So next time you go on your daily escape from lockdown, stroll past Cocoa Jackson Lane. You can “glimpse into history around every corner” and remember a valiant resident of our neighbourhood.






How Google disrupts traffic decision-making

Did a navigation app just send that truck past your house? 

Over the last five years, a stream of stories has been published on the disruption of traditional traffic planning by satellite navigation apps, and on community efforts to regain control of local traffic flows.

Particular targets of criticism are the free apps Google Maps and Waze (an Israeli-developed app popular in the United States and Europe, now owned by Google). These apps collect real-time information from drivers’ phones, and recommend the fastest route, avoiding traffic jams.

Using speed for individual trips as the sole criteria for choosing a route, however, has downsides. To start with, our road system has been constructed around a hierarchy from major arterial roads down to minor local roads.  Road signs (and in the past, paper maps) direct you towards the major roads.

Old photos show few private vehicles in our residential streets, and more expensive homes were built along broad thoroughfares on higher ground like Blyth Street. As vehicle traffic has increased, people have increasingly preferred to live in smaller local roads with less traffic. But satellite navigation systems ignore all this, so that unless you live in a cul-de-sac, your small local street could become a major traffic route. The car-dependent and highly populated USA, along with Europe, has seen a flood of concern, research and action on this issue.

As this 2017 article in Atlantic magazine says:

In the pre-mobile-app days, drivers’ selfishness was limited by their knowledge of the road network. In those conditions, both simulation and real-world experience showed that most people stuck to the freeways and arterial roads. Sure, there were always people who knew the crazy, back-road route, but the bulk of people just stuck to the routes that transportation planners had designated as the preferred way to get from A to B.”

“Now, however, a new information layer is destroying the nudging infrastructure that traffic planners built into cities.”

In the words of a traffic engineer quoted in the Washington Post: “These great shortcuts used to spread by word of mouth, but now they just spread like wildfire”.

Jane Macfarlane and fellow academics from UC Berkeley suggest that apps are not just re-routing traffic around accidents and other one-off events, but are permanently changing traffic flows.

In addition, simulations show that the re-routing of traffic of a major road into minor roads (for example to avoid an accident) may hinder rather than help traffic movement as exits become congested.  A few people using route-planning maps makes things better, but a lot of people using them might force a deterioration of driving conditions.

Jane Macfarlane notes that the problem is not real-time rerouting. Cities do this all the time by changing the signal, phase, and timing of traffic lights or flashing detour alerts on signs. But navigation apps don’t take into account factors considered by city traffic managers, such as:

  • Peculiarities of a neighbourhood, like hills or blind corners
  • Other characteristics, such as school entrances
  • The need to allow access to traffic entering from side roads

In hilly Los Angeles, there have been years of community agitation to try to pull Google and Waze into line, after a myriad of complaints – the most dramatic being when apps re-routed drivers towards the 2017 LA wildfires (luckily police were there to divert them away).

A UK story – with the best picture – reports that quiet London streets are being turned into polluted rat runs


Who gets to decide?

The ultimate question is, who gets to control where and how traffic moves around our cities and countryside: our elected governments or multi-national technology giants? Traditionally, state and local governments set our traffic hierarchies, and at least in theory, manage traffic flows to reflect these hierarchies, with local roads intended for local traffic, and major and arterial roads for longer trips and larger vehicles. As discussed below, US cities are trying a number of strategies to take back control of these decisions.

As Laura Bill from Bloomberg CityLab points out, living near highways is associated with higher rates of asthma, cancer, and heart disease. If all our roads become de facto highways, this will cause an increase in disease, injury and mortality. It will also reduce the proportion of pleasant neighbourhood spaces.

Looking even more broadly, this is one small example of the problems created when computer algorithms are allowed to manage our lives. “Their decisions are mathematical, not ethical” says mathematician Cathy O’Neil, author of Weapons of Math Destruction, in the excellent new film Coded Bias (available this week at MIFF 2020 online). 

Back home in Victoria

In country Victoria, the South Gippsland Sentinel Times has reported several incidents where vehicles drive on unsuitable roads; and complaints about the costs of maintaining additional heavy vehicle routes through the hills. These two stories both involve large trucks coming to grief three months apart, on the same narrow, wind-swept South Gippsland road:

Here in Brunswick, residents believe that Google is responsible for substantially increasing traffic along our local streets. After BRN helped set up joint working group on walking with Walk on Moreland, we heard a lot of stories about this. People living towards the south end of Sydney Road contacted the group to highlight that cars turning right into Barkly Street were a major danger for people walking along Sydney Road. Most did not turn, as expected, into Barkly Square. A quick check of Google Maps showed that the app often directs north-east-bound traffic to do this dangerous right turn from Sydney Road into Barkly Street, then cross the uncontrolled intersection at Lygon Street. The designated major roads in that area, with traffic lights at major intersections, are Brunswick Road, Glenlyon Road, or Blyth Street, while Barkly Square customers could turn right more safely at the Weston Street lights.

A call-out for further examples raised suggestions that Google maps may be the cause of large trucks entering narrow Gray Street – not an obvious route – to cut from Brunswick Road to Glenlyon Road; and that Mitchell Street is also recommended as a cut-through. A local tradie noted that: “Traveling up Melville Road to Bell Street, Google maps always takes you down Brearley Parade, which doesn’t save time as it can be impossible to turn left from Brearley onto Bell Street”.

Increased traffic volumes in recent years have also been noted on the short one-way run down Nash Street, which siphons traffic off Blyth Street to continue south through local roads. Residents argue that because the entrance to Nash Street is effectively hidden, navigation apps must be the cause of the increased rat-running down this street. They are concerned that rat-runners using the one-way street are often moving too fast to give way to pedestrians at the T-intersection with Victoria Street.

How to stop Google-guided rat runners

  1. Creative and amusing. There are some hilarious stories online, starting with those who have reported a fictitious accident outside their house. Apparently this works a few times, but then the app recognises you as a trouble-maker. Then there is the Berlin artist who dragged a hand-cart full of 99 mobile phones borrowed from his friends, walking slowly so that Google reported a serious traffic jam.
  2. Traffic management. Local governments have slowed traffic through speed humps aiming to slow down side road speeds –but the app may still chose the side street if it is faster than the main road. Stronger measures are more effective: blocking roads, or introducing no-turn or one-way restrictions.
  3. Talking nicely to the tech companies. There was some hopeful talk three or four years ago, where local government in the United States tried to engage with Google and Waze; but this seems to have come to nothing.
  4. Legislation. 
  • The town of Leonia, New Jersey, banned non-resident drivers from its streets during peak hours. This move was followed by neighbouring towns. Residents were issued with stickers to enter, and non-residents faced a $200 fine. The move was unpopular among some local businesses; and among those who argued a right to drive where they liked. It faces court challenges, but so far the town is winning.
  • Other areas have responded by drastically reducing speeds on residential streets: Portland and Seattle are among cities which have lowered the speed limits on residential streets to 20 miles per hour (which of course is safer for pedestrians, as well).
  • Los Angeles is looking to implement a L.A. City Council motion which prohibits navigation apps re-routing traffic “inconsistent with City street designations.” See:

Some good reading

Contact us!

Write to  if you’ve noticed Google sending you down back streets as a driver, or excessive rat-running traffic in your residential streets due to traffic apps.

Irony declaration

Much of the research in this article was carried out using Google.





Walking news

Zebras run wild in Brunswick

Last year, Brunswick Residents Network was one of many community groups that made submissions to Moreland Council as they developed a 10-year traffic strategy – the Moreland Integrated Traffic Strategy (MITS). One of the issues we highlighted was the need for more Zebra crossings to promote pedestrian safety. Cheaper than signalised crossings, they are good value for making walking safer, as well as calming traffic on our local streets.

We are delighted to see around 70 zebra crossings will be funded across the municipality under a special COVID addition to Council’s 2020 transport budget.

In response, BRN collected suggested locations for new zebras, and we were invited to discuss possible locations with Council staff. Moreland Council now have a list of Brunswick locations where new zebra crossings are planned. These include across a number of T-intersections to make walking safer up and down major roads such as Lygon Street,  Sydney Road and Nicholson Street. Plans are currently being drawn up, and will be submitted for Department of Transport approval.

This batch of crossings across the minor streets does not address the need to safely cross major roads. But it’s a substantial contribution, and the crossings will have the side benefit of making drivers more cautious, possibly discouraging some rat-running through local streets.

More evidence that Moreland dangerous for walkers

The City of Moreland runs second out of all local government areas in Victoria for pedestrian-injury collisions, according to a new study by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) for Victoria Walks.

In total, more than 2,000 pedestrians are admitted to hospital or present to Emergency Departments each year in Melbourne. With 626 collisions in Moreland over the 10-year study period (more than 60 a year), only the City of Melbourne has more accidents. (Previous articles have also noted our high pedestrian death numbers)

The research, funded by a TAC Community Road Safety Grant, analysed police, TAC and hospital data. TAC data showing that almost half the crashes involve an “offending” driver. The majority of pedestrian crashes were found to occur on roads with posted speed limits of 60 km/h (31.0%) or 50 km/h (29.8%). Fatal and serious injuries were more likely on roads with higher speed limits, and 15 per cent of accidents are hit and runs – an alarming proportion. And things get worse as the week goes on: the highest proportion of injury collisions occurred on Fridays. Our Council should commission MUARC to analyse exactly where and how Moreland’s 626 accidents occurred.

In the report, Victoria Walks makes a series of recommendations, including more 30km/h zones; more spending on pedestrian infrastructure; better driver training – and much more, so read their report!

The bridge

The new bridge spanning Merri Creek from Beavers Road to Kingfisher Gardens is nearing completion. The cable and span bridge is a joint venture between Moreland and Darebin Councils, and will provide a safe link across the creek for cyclists and pedestrians. It should really activate the other side of the creek and the urban area on Beavers Road, and allow Northcote students to safely access schools in Brunswick and Ceres environment park (and vice versa).

BRN and Walk on Moreland have been lobbying Moreland Council for crossings and safety measures at Stewart Street, Harrison Street and Nicholson Street, so children can walk and ride safely to Brunswick East Primary School.

Peak hour

Anyone feeling nostalgic for the peak hour crush on the Upfield rail line should take a hit from this video. Yet another busy morning at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo (thanks to Urban Happiness for the link).

Walking activists welcome at our monthly meetings!

BRN, with Walk on Moreland, hosts a Walking Working Group which, as you can see from the stories in this newsletter, is getting a lot done! We meet monthly, currently online, at 6.30 on the second Tuesday of each month. You need to register in advance the first time, to be sent the entry code.





Traffic and transport

Closure for John Street

Since 19 September 2019, Moreland Council has undertaken a trial closure of John Street, Brunswick East, to see the effect on the main north-south Brunswick bike shimmy and to ease pedestrian access to Fleming Park. At their August meeting, Councillors have now agreed to proceed to full closure of John Street, after Council officers collected traffic count data in seven neighbouring streets to assess the redistribution of traffic in the area as a result of the temporary closure.

BRN has long campaigned for traffic management around Fleming Park and the East Brunswick Village and we welcome this decision. But we’ve also argued that there needs to be a precinct wide response, not just street by street.

This is clear from the way that the temporary closure of John Street has pushed traffic into the next street to the west, Hutchison Street. In our 2019 submission to Council about the John Street closure, BRN argued: “Hutchison Street runs parallel to John Street to the west, and local residents are concerned that the closure of John Street will increase rat-running through their street, which has a large number of residential properties. Brunswick Residents Network believes that this is not a reason to abandon the closure, but that Moreland Council needs to address resident concerns through a range of measures…[including] investigating new traffic calming measures in Hutchinson Street and at the intersection of Hutchinson and Albert Streets, that could slow traffic moving north-south and east-west.”

Under the Local Government Act, Council will now give public notice of the proposal to “permanently block the passage of vehicles other than bicycles in John Street, Brunswick East, write to owners and occupiers of all properties in the area bounded by Nicholson Street, Glenlyon Road, Hutchinson Street, Fleming Park and Victoria Street in Brunswick East inviting submissions”. South Ward councillors will convene a committee to hear submissions.

However, because of the lockdown, Council elections and Christmas holidays, this will take place in February next year.

Shared zones trial for Fleming Park

It’s fantastic that Moreland Council is now working towards pop-up 10kph shared zones to calm traffic alongside Fleming Park, under its COVID transport funding budget. This is an idea we first proposed for the 2013 Brunswick Integrated Transport Strategy (BITS). A shared zone at the intersection of Victoria Street and Elesbury Avenue, and along Albert Street (from the John to Hutchinson street intersections) would slow traffic, assist bike movement along the shimmy, and reduce accident risk for people accessing the park from nearby apartments. It should also help deter rat-running through these streets.

You only have to visit Fleming Park today, as people exercise during lockdown, to understand that this is a vital community asset in a suburb that is seeing thousands of new apartments under construction.

BRN and local residents have met online with traffic engineers at Moreland Council and we thank them for their work on this project. This process will involve Department of Transport approval, but the process has begun! If any locals near Fleming Park are interested in this initiative, please get in touch through

Noisy neighbours – LXRP destroys lockdown sleep

Brunswick Residents Network has received a number of complaints from residents affected by night-time construction work for the level crossings removal on the Upfield rail line at Munro, Reynard and Bell streets and Moreland Road.

As the Age reports: “Residents along Melbourne’s Upfield line say deafening drilling and window-rattling pile-driving has become a 24/7 nightmare, as works to remove level crossings continue through the COVID-19 lockdown. Noisy works, running from July until November, are removing level crossings at Munro, Reynard and Bell streets and at Moreland Road, and lifting 2.5 kilometres of tracks.”

While some residents have taken up offers to relocate during this part of the operation, the current lockdown creates stress and mental health problems for people who cannot escape the noise of pile drivers in the middle of the night. Although the noisiest works may now be completed, it’s intolerable that the LXRP and State Government did not adapt their work schedule, and instead appear to have been granted exemption from normal noise regulations, at a time some people are at home 23 hours a day due to the COVID pandemic!

Brunswick station to be staffed – for now

Portable buildings have just been installed in the carpark at Brunswick Station. They provide facilities for station staff, who will be helping passengers who will change to buses to travel further north, while trains are turned around at Anstey Station during the LXRP works. Normally local stations only have PSOs (security staff).

Many stations on eastern suburbs lines are regularly staffed for local ticketing, passenger assistance, and selling country and interstate tickets (remember those?). With our huge increase (outside COVID times) in rail patronage, and massive population growth, why should we have to travel to the city or to Coburg for these services? There’s a strong argument for keeping Brunswick staffed permanently.





COVID update

King Leonidis maskedAs at 19 August, Moreland had 904 people who since March have been confirmed positive with COVID-19, ranking 6th out of 73 local government areas.

By suburb, the case numbers are highest in Fawkner (post-code 3060) with 179 cases (77 still active), due to the major outbreak at St Basil’s Aged Care. For Moreland’s South Ward, since March there have been:

  • 45 cases (9 still active) in postcode 3055 (West Brunswick),
  • 82 cases (25 active) in 3056 (Brunswick central), and
  • 41 (15 active) in Brunswick East (3057).

It’s curious that Brunswick West was locked down early, but Brunswick now has nearly double the number of cases.

In mid-July, four patients and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 at Brunswick Private Hospital in Moreland Road. The hospital was briefly closed, but the number of related infections rose to 18.





Planning news

Major build-to-rent project near Clifton Park

Despite the economic downturn, major property developers Mirvac are partnering with Milieu Property to propose a massive new 500 apartment complex, dubbed ‘Albert Fields’, near Clifton Park in Albert Street, Brunswick (west of the Upfield rail line).

Founded in 1972, Mirvac is a major integrated Australian property group, with an investment portfolio and a development business. Milieu are hipster capitalists “committed to creating spaces of positive influence, both inside and out”, according to their website. “We create spaces that enrich the rhythms of daily life, and buildings that respond to their context and are a true reflection of place.”

ABC News reports: “Developers Mirvac and Milieu will construct 500 homes in Brunswick in a build-to-rent project scheduled for completion in late 2024. This build-to-rent model sees developers construct and own buildings of apartments, and then let them to tenants — generally for long terms.”

LIV Mirvac is the corporation’s Build to Rent brand, launched in 2020. Rather than selling apartments, a “build-to-rent” project means that the developers assume the role of corporate landlord. As “property designer, developer, owner and manager”, Mirvac already runs vertically integrated operations with more than $22 billion of assets under management in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

The developers have already begun their PR campaign for ‘Albert Fields’ by launching a push-poll survey “to guide the design and features for the project.”

Their PR suggests that the survey will help with “ranking the importance of indoor exercise areas and even lodgings for family and friends are also part of the survey. Local input is also expected to shape how the Clifton Park adjacent project will address environmental concerns, from water and light use to vegetable patches and car share facilities.”

The project sounds like a monster which will tower over Clifton Park and also over-shadow Gilpin Park across the road. Let the developers know your views about the project at the Albert fields survey





Parks galore

New park at Frith Street

Moreland Council has received a welcome grant of $1.3 million from the State Government, to fund construction of a new park in Frith Street, Brunswick.

The park will be built on a 2,700 square-metre site previously used by clothing manufacturer Fletcher Jones. The old warehouse and industrial façade are still there, covered in graffiti. Moreland Council believes that a park at the Frith Street site “presents an opportunity to preserve and celebrate the site’s rich industrial history in a new contemporary public space.” It’s a substantial piece of land, so it’s not clear why Council’s media release refers to a “pocket park”.

The proposal for new open space, just one block east of Sydney Road, comes in an area with significant new high-density apartment construction, some already completed. Concept development for the Frith Street project is currently underway, including a thorough heritage assessment that will influence the final design.

The southern section of the site was used for warehousing until the 1950s when a hosiery manufacturer occupied part of the site. In the mid-1970s, Fletcher Jones moved into the premises, using the site primarily for the production of clothing and fabric weaving. Dry cleaning was undertaken at the adjacent site at 464 Sydney Road, and a 2014 EPA study of the area found that waste dry cleaning fluid may have infiltrated in groundwater, after being stored in massive tanks located at 29‐31 Frith Street.

The draft concept for the park will be presented for community consultation before the end of 2020. Demolition of the existing buildings and retention of heritage elements is expected to take place before the end of June 2021, and construction of the park will begin next year, with expected completion by June 2022.

Garrong and Bulleke-bek parks

Construction has just begun on two other small parks in Brunswick, as part of Council’s ‘A Park Close to Home’ framework. This objective of this long-term plan is that everyone living in the City of Moreland is within 500 metres walking distance of a park or open space, or within 300 metres for those living in the City’s busiest, high-density activity zones.

The new Garrong Park at 55 – 61 Tinning Street, Brunswick is planned to open in November. The same schedule applies for Bulleke-bek Park at West and Breese Streets, Brunswick.

Bulleke-bek is the former Aboriginal name for Brunswick, recorded in the notebooks of 19th century anthropologist Alfred William Howitt and believed to refer to the description “flat country with scattered trees.” Howitt’s notes appear to be records of conversations he had with ngurungaeta (leader) of the Wurundjeri-willam, William Barak, and his fellow Kulin countryman, Dick Richards, sometime between 1897 and 1901.

Wilson Avenue upgrade

Moreland Council is currently undertaking the preliminary design for streetscape improvements to the small park on the corner of Sydney Road and Wilson Avenue, Brunswick.

The existing park, created in 2015, includes a climbing rock, greenery and seats, and opens the way from Sydney Road towards Jewell Station on the Upfield rail line. Back then, some local businesses opposed it but residents were overwhelmingly in favour, and it has been a welcome improvement. Now Council want to “improve the pedestrian amenity, walkability and presentation of Wilson Avenue, between Jewell Station and Sydney Road.” In plain English, this means wider footpaths, more trees and new artwork.

Staff have developed a draft plan and are looking for your thoughts and suggestions through an online questionnaire. The online consultation is open until 28 August, and can be found at Conversations Moreland.





Culture Corner

Melbourne at (curfew) night

Ames Elizabeth (her facebook name) lives in Brunswick but works in an Intensive Care Unit. With her permission, we’d like to share her wonderful photos of the trip home at night through the CBD.

“Today I just had a feeling I’d need a walk and some fresh air after work. I packed my camera in my bag. ICU can make you feel confined at times, Covid-19 definitely adds to that.

“I am in the unique position to walk through the city to get home. I thought I’d take some quick photos to document these crazy times. Never in a million years when I moved to Melbourne nine years ago, did I think I’d ever have the steps of H&M on Bourke Street to myself at 8:01pm. How different do these Melbourne landmarks look without people filling them?!

“I was commuting home from a 12-hour shift. I have to go through the city to get my dinner and tram connection. I always walk up from Flinders to Bourke to wait as I feel safer there. This has been my route to work for the past 3 years.”

Great pics, and a historic record of our city at night under curfew. Thanks for your permission to share this art, and for your day job!

Brunswick lament

More, and a very different selection of images of COVID-struck Brunswick in this musical treat: “Lockdown: Scenes from the pandemic, Brunswick, Victoria, 2020.

The photos are set to original music performed by pianist Christina Higham and composed by Andrea Bunting (the dynamo behind Walk on Moreland)

Book libraries

Scattered around the suburb, you can find small book libraries, to exchange second hand texts. It’s a small part of the sharing economy and a lucky dip: you can usually find lots of John Grisham, bodice rippers, and texts on how to use floppy discs. But every now and then there are gems – the other day we scored a novel by Isabelle Allende and the collected works of Spike Milligan from this yellow fridge outside Brunswick Station (on the bike path just to the north of the station entrance). They’ll be back there in a few weeks.

For book junkies, keep an eye out for treats as you stroll around on your daily exercise, and take a replacement book back on your next walk.






Moreland Council stuff

All Council meetings – held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month –  are normally held at: Council Chamber, Moreland Civic Centre, 90 Bell Street, Coburg. 2020 dates are:

  • Wednesday 9 September 2020
  • Wednesday 14 October 2020 (during the “caretaker” period before the 24 October council elections, which limits decisions that can be made)

Meeting details are posted at the Council website.

Council meetings can be watched online, either live, or later – you can find details here along with the agenda for the next Council meeting when it’s posted on the Friday before the monthly meeting.

There is no public question time because of COVID-19 rules, but you can submit a written question through a link on the website page above.





Email us!

Please note our email address: And write to tell us what you think of the newsletter. We love feedback. 

If you are able to offer some time to volunteer to help organise our campaigns, and support our work, please get in contact. Our work includes organising meetings, leafleting and letter boxing, graphic design and publicity, and research; on planning, greening Brunswick and traffic management.

[Wondering why this email comes to you from Our Mailchimp email service doesn’t like a gmail sender’s address, so we use a member’s address. Add this address your contacts so our emails don’t get filed as spam, but don’t write to it)





Contacts for our local councillors

Lambros Tapinos (Mayor)

Mobile: 0433 419 075


Jess Dorney

Mobile: 0419 560 055


Mark Riley

Mobile: 0499 807044







Welcome to new readers! To contact organisers of the Brunswick Residents’ Network, or to offer help with future activities, please email (This gmail is our preferred address, rather than replying to this email).

Please forward this e-letter to other Moreland neighbours who’d like a say in the way their community is changing. It’s easy to sign on, or edit your details to include your interests – just go to

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Check out our Facebook page for a range of lively discussions: Brunswick Residents Network. Help us reach more people by liking our page, commenting, forwarding this newsletter, and tweeting it using the links below.














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One comment

  1. conlanjmgmailcom · · Reply

    Hi BRN,

    Great newsletter! Regarding the LXRP construction noise, there’s a community meeting this Sunday at 3pm on Zoom to discuss actions to campaign for sensible construction scheduling – see Facebook event details here .

    You may want to distribute via your Facebook if you have members affected.

    Kind regards, James Conlan

    On Fri, 21 Aug 2020 at 18:57, Brunswick Residents Network wrote:

    > brunbom posted: “This month we ask whether apps like Google are disrupting > traffic management. We unravel the history of local boxer Cocoa Jackson – > and his namesake. Plus good news for walkers (zebra crossings, hence the > picture), and parks. Not so good on planning, and ” >

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