‘You’re from Caroline Springs? You must be rich, then’

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‘You’re from Caroline Springs? You must be rich, then’

Something I realised and became aware of as I ventured out of my suburb more frequently when I grew up was the dangerous reputation of the west of Melbourne.

Our family of four moved to Caroline Springs in 2008 from Melton. Melton hadn’t been particularly kind to our family. My sister and I were the only black kids at our school and were frequently bullied.

Caroline Springs is home to a statue that none of the locals really understand the meaning of.

Caroline Springs is home to a statue that none of the locals really understand the meaning of.Credit: Penny Stephens

Coupled with the painting by our neighbour of a black smiley face on our side of the fence, I was relieved when I found out we were moving.

Though Caroline Springs was in the same municipality as Melton, it is seen as the more glamorous part of the west and safe for families. We chose our new house together; a popular square design that is one of four identical-looking houses in the area.

We took frequent trips to see its building process and moved in when most of the other blocks only had frames. I remember it taking forever at first for anything to happen, and we were waiting for the neighbourhood to build up around us.

Though I would never admit it as a teen, growing up here wasn’t that bad. When you get used to the slow pace and the boredom of suburbia, you get lost in the crafted beauty of Caroline Springs, with its waterways and its endless walking trails.

News quickly spread of this new little town out west, with its ultramodern geometric houses and good schools. Middle-class families who didn’t want to leave the west flocked here and built big houses on modest blocks of land.

Despite the developers meticulously planning out the layout of the town, they had not accounted for the popularity of the local schools or the fact that placing eight schools on the main boulevard would cause such god-awful traffic when there’s only two exits.


In 2011, the only public school with four campuses demerged into four separate schools in order to secure more funding. More portable classrooms were built to fit in the overflow of students.

However, three of these new schools were year Prep to 9, after which we all merged into the one Senior College for years 10 to 12. The College soon became zoned, leaving behind my friends from the surrounding suburbs like Deer Park, Burnside and Taylors Lakes. It didn’t make the school feel any smaller. With only three grades, there were over 1500 of us, but it did create a little hierarchy.


It became more common to hear: “You’re from Caroline Springs. Must be rich, then”. Especially if you lived around the lake. I wanted to reject the thought that we were in any way as posh as the Williamstown and Yarraville generational wealth girlies. We were a very diverse town of first and second-generation migrants who had just become middle class.

In those days, everybody knew everyone, for the most part. It was hard not to walk to your mate’s house, which was always 10-15 minutes away, and not pass a familiar face or somebody’s house.

There are scenic walking trails that follow the bend of Kororoit Creek, not to mention Lake Caroline that sits at the heart of town, and two smaller lakes elsewhere. All of which are packed during summer, or whenever the sun is out. During COVID, the number of people flocking to Lake Caroline meant that police cars would patrol the perimeter just to make sure people were sticking to the restrictions.

Maybe in the 2000s to 2010s Caroline Springs was a suburb for new families. But then the house prices started skyrocketing, and so did the size of the houses. More and more three-storey houses and apartment buildings have begun popping up around the lake.


Most of the families that settled here during that time probably couldn’t now. There are more Teslas and BMWs on the boulevard than I can count. And the schools that they flocked to have now all been zoned, with tighter residential restrictions each year.

The things that I enjoyed at the local library, like the mini art gallery that showcased local artists, aren’t now as active. And they got rid of the PlayStations, and cut back on the community clubs, the new books, and staff.

It’s hard to tell what will happen next. Though my partner and I have both grown up here and gone to school here, starting our own family in Caroline Springs would just be too expensive.

It often feels like once you no longer fall into the family or child category, there’s not much for you to do in Caroline Springs, or even a reason to venture out here besides the restaurants. It’s the town of the west that hasn’t quite figured out what it is now.

This piece is part of The Age’s Life in the ’Burbs series.

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