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Place Snapshot: Donnybrook

The area around Donnybrook was originally known to European settlers as ‘Rocky Waterholes’, the name of a nearby cattle run and natural feature near Merri Creek. The 2011 population for the rural north was 3,317, with a population density of 0.10 persons per hectare.

The City of Whittlesea’s rural north includes the suburbs of Eden Park, the northern part of Donnybrook, Humevale and Woodstock, the northern part of Wollert, the non-urban part of Whittlesea, the City of Whittlesea parts of Beveridge and Kinglake West, and most of the City of Whittlesea part of Yan Yean.

Local history

The area around Donnybrook was originally known to European settlers as ‘Rocky Waterholes’, the name of a nearby cattle run and natural feature near Merri Creek. In 1853 it was renamed Donnybrook, probably after the Donnybrook Parish in the County of Dublin, Ireland.

Settled in 1840, the surrounding area had a number of large cattle and sheep runs. Donnybrook’s proximity to the Sydney Road saw it establish itself as an important coach stop, particularly during the gold rush. However, it went into decline after the opening of the railway line in 1872.

In 1874 Donnybrook was essentially split in half with the original part of the town, located on the Sydney Road, renamed Kalkallo and the newer part of the town, located near the railway line, remaining as Donnybrook.

Dairying became an important economic mainstay until World War II, after which cattle grazing took over. Donnybrook’s mineral springs, reported to have been used by early settlers, were formally recognised by the Victorian Geological Survey in 1912.

Land use

The rural north includes the rural balance of the City of Whittlesea, including some rural-residential areas.

The non-urban areas are characterised by forest, cattle grazing, farming and poultry, horse and dog breeding.


Population density and growth

The 2011 population for the rural north was 3,317, with a population density of 0.10 persons per hectare.

The 2016 population forecast for the rural north is 3,248, and is forecast to grow to 3,808 by 2036.

The number of dwellings in the rural north is forecast to grow from 1,123 in 2011 to 1,276 in 2026, with the average household size falling from 2.96 to 2.92 by 2026.


The rural north had a lower proportion of pre-schoolers and a higher proportion of persons at post retirement age than the City of Whittlesea in 2011.

There were 26 people over the age of 85 living in the rural north in 2011, with largest age group being 50 to 54 year olds.


In the rural north, 15 per cent of people spoke a language other than English at home in 2011.

In 2011, 11 per cent of people in the rural north came from countries where English was not their first language.

The 3 largest ancestries in the rural north in 2011 were Australian, English and Italian.


1,718 people living in the rural north in 2011 were employed, of which 60 per cent worked full-time and 36 per cent part-time.

More rural north residents worked in construction than any other industry in 2011. There were more technicians and trades workers in the rural north in 2011 than any other occupation.

In the rural north 17 per cent of the population reported doing some form of voluntary work in 2011, which is higher than the City of Whittlesea average of 9.7 per cent.

Families and households

In the rural north, 45 per cent of households were made up of couples with children in 2011.

In the rural north, 83 per cent of households were purchasing or fully owned their home, 11.2 per cent were renting privately, and 0 per cent were in social housing in 2011.

Car ownership

Analysis of car ownership in 2011, indicates 81 per cent of households in the rural north had access to 2 or more motor vehicles, compared to 61 per cent in the City of Whittlesea.

Future growth

In 2010 the State Government extended the Urban Growth Boundary to allow additional urban development to take place in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

Precinct Structure Plans

Precinct Structure Plans are high-level master plans for whole communities. They lay out roads, retail hubs, schools, parks, housing, employment, connections to transport and generally address biodiversity, cultural heritage, infrastructure provision and funding through the development contributions plan.

The Metropolitan Planning Authority (MPA) is the statutory authority responsible for overseeing the preparation of all Precinct Structure Plans in Melbourne’s growth areas and advising the Minister for Planning on their approval.

The MPA is working in partnership with growth area councils, which includes the City of Whittlesea to complete the planning for Melbourne Growth Areas.

In the City of Whittlesea, the extension of the Urban Growth Boundary has created several future growth areas that will be planned and developed over the next 5 to 30 years.

Precinct Structure Plans currently under preparation by the State Government’s, Metropolitan Planning Authority, in partnership with Council, are:

Major surrounding features

  • Yan Yean Reservoir Park
    Managed by Melbourne Water. The Reservoir supplies the northern and central suburbs of Melbourne.
  • Toorourrong Reservoir Park (Whittlesea)
    Managed by Parks Victoria. Completely destroyed during the 2009 bushfires, the Victorian Government spent $5.1 million rebuilding the park which re-opened to the public in late 2015 and is also home to the Whittlesea Bushfire Memorial.
  • Kinglake National Park
    Has 23,210 hectares of tall forests, fern gullies and rolling hills, an extensive network of walking tracks and other facilities, as well as vantage points offering scenic views. It protects almost 600 native plant
    species, over 40 native mammal and 90 native bird species.
  • Growling Frog Golf Course (Yan Yean)
    The course has first class facilities including a restaurant and café, dedicated driving range, putting green, chipping green, practice bunker and more. The creation of a dedicated recycled water supply has ensured there will be plenty of water to keep the course maintained at the highest standard throughout the year.
  • Whittlesea Golf Club
    Situated in the Humevale Valley, houses a challenging 18-hole layout for golfers of all standards.
  • T H Hurrey Recreation Reserve (Yan Yean)
    Facilities at this 4-hectare park include 4 tennis courts (asphalt), a pavilion and changerooms,
    barbecues, picnic facilities, and a public toilet.
  • Tuttle Recreation Reserve (Wollert)
    Facilities at this 2.16 hectare park include 2 public access tennis courts (synthetic grass), a pavilion and clubrooms, picnic facilities, barbecues and public toilets.