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Main street of Altona
|• Density||636.8/km2 (1,649/sq mi)|
|Area||16.9 km2 (6.5 sq mi)|
|Location||13 km (8 mi) from Melbourne|
|LGA(s)||City of Hobsons Bay|
Altona is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 13 km south-west of Melbourne's Central Business District, located within the City of Hobsons Bay local government area. Altona recorded a population of 10,762 at the 2016 census.
Altona is a large suburb consisting of low density residential in the south-eastern half, with mixed industry in the north-western half. A key feature is Altona Beach on Port Phillip, which is one of only two swimming beaches in the western suburbs (the other being Williamstown Beach).
Altona was first permanently settled in 1842, with the construction of The Homestead by Alfred Langhorne. The name 'Altona' first appeared on maps in 1861. It was named by Frederick Taegtow, a German who hailed from Altona, then a town just outside of Hamburg. Taegtow believed that coal was to be found in the area, and in 1881 he formed the Williamstown (Taegtow) Prospecting Company. From 1886 housing in the Altona and Merton Street estates was sold, and by 1901 the Victorian Government owned an explosives reserve in the west of Altona.
On 20 February 1911 J J Hammond flew the first cross country flight between towns in Australia from Altona Bay to Geelong in Victoria, and on 23 February, also at Altona Bay in Victoria, he undertook the first powered passenger flight in Australia.
By 1918 the population was sufficient to justify a Post Office which opened on 14 January 1918.
Similar to the rest of Melbourne, following the Second World War Altona embraced a large influx of immigrants, primarily from the Mediterranean, Central Europe and a smaller number from the Middle East.
From 1862 Altona was a town in the Shire of Werribee, but in 1957, the Altona Riding of the Shire, which included Altona itself as well as Altona North and Altona Meadows, was annexed, and became the City of Altona in 1968. This was merged into the City of Hobsons Bay in June 1994 under local government amalgamations undertaken by the Kennett government.
On 24 June 2010, Altona became home to Australia's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, a then resident of Altona. Gillard was voted in by the governing Australian Labor Party to replace Kevin Rudd as its leader, making her Australia's 27th Prime Minister.
In the 2016 Census, there were 10,762 people in Altona. 64.6% of people were born in Australia. The next most common countries of birth were England 4.8%, New Zealand 2.3%, Malta 2.1%, India 1.7% and Italy 1.6%. 73.3% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Italian 2.3%, Maltese 2.2%, Mandarin 1.7%, Vietnamese 1.3% and Greek 1.3%. The most common responses for religion in were No Religion 33.2%, Catholic 30.5% and Anglican 8.9%.
Altona has many significant parks and gardens, including some important environmental conservation areas and wetlands along the shores of Port Phillip. These are also used by visitors and residents recreationally, including a long promenade along the bay. Notable areas include:
Altona has four primary schools consisting of Altona Primary School, Seaholme Primary School, Altona College (a recent merger between the former Altona Secondary College and Altona West Primary School) and St. Marys Catholic Primary School. The secondary schools include Mount St. Joseph Girls' College and Altona College (Altona Secondary College changed its name in 2007).
Altona has a library branch, which contains the Environmental Resources Centre. This centre provides the community access to media concerning the environmental initiatives of Hobsons Bay, including Industry Environment Improvement Plans from local industry.
The Altona Beach Festival is a free event held annually at the Logan Reserve precinct, (located on the Esplanade and includes the Logan Reserve parklands, part of Pier Street and the Esplanade), to promote and celebrate Hobsons Bay and the western suburbs. It involves various activities, including a twilight street parade, beach market, double-decker bus tour, professional entertainers, RAAF fly-overs and fireworks off the Altona Pier.
The Altona Beach Festival was previously known as the Bayside Festival and also Operation Recreation, and some residents still refer to it by one of these names. The 30th anniversary of the festival was held in 2007. It enjoyed a brief period of heightened prominence in 2002 when it was featured on the Channel 9 travel program Postcards in a segment hosted by Geoff Cox. The festival is easily accessed by buses and suburban passenger trains as it is just a few minutes walk away from Altona Station. Scouts Australia is a major feature of the parade and the many community activities that take place close to the beautiful beach front.
The Altona City Theatre is a production company based in the Altona Civic Theatre, producing two major musicals and a smaller pantomime annually. The pantomime coincides with the Bayside Festival and was originally intended as an outlet for young directors.
Scouts Australia has two groups in Altona. The 1st Altona Scout Group runs from the Scout Hall. The 4th Altona Scout Group are located at the Pines, an old camp owned by the City of Hobsons Bay.
Altona is represented by many teams, including the soccer team Altona Magic currently competing in the Victorian State League Division 1, which is the third tier in Australia behind the A-League and the Victorian Premier League. Altona City SC plays in Victorian State League Division 2 N/W.
Golfers play at the course of the Kooringal Golf Club on Wilga Avenue.
Additionally, the area of the beach directly west of Altona Pier is one of Melbourne's most popular spots for kitesurfing.
There are three railway stations in Altona; Altona, Westona and Seaholme, each of which is on the Altona loop line which runs between Altona Junction on the Werribee railway line and Laverton railway station. During weekdays, the loop line is served by a service running between Laverton and the city. At weekends all rail services to and from Werribee run via the loop line.
Bus routes 411, 412, 415 and 903 also service the area.
The Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail is a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians, which follows the coast through Altona. This is linked to a path which loops around Cherry Lake. Most major roads have on-road cycleways.
Local industry includes petrochemical storage, manufacturing and distribution. The Altona Petrochemical Complex was established in the early 1960s, utilising feedstocks from the nearby Altona Refinery, and later the Bass Strait gas fields, to produce a wide range of products for the chemical and plastics industry. The complex grew to become the largest petrochemical installation in the southern hemisphere and included major global chemical companies such as Dow Chemicals, Union Carbide, Hoechst, BF Goodrich and BASF. This was a major environmental concern to residents in the 1970s and 1980s; however, strict environmental controls and local projects involving industry, government and environmental groups have reduced these concerns, cleaning up coastal areas that were once neglected.
Just outside Altona is the Toyota Australia Altona Plant. It is at this plant that Camrys and Aurions are built, with 80% of the cars produced at this plant being for the world market. The plant was closed in 2017.
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