One of the few parts of Melbourne to be named after a tragic misunderstanding, Campbellfield’s name is actually a contraction of the earlier Camp Bellfield. It was originally a way station for a group of would be gold miners who were on their way to Bellfield in 1854, where they mistakenly believed that a rich vein of gold existed.
Even a cursory examination of a map depicting the relative positions of the two locations will show what an error this was. It appears that the leader of the expedition, a Russian named Vladimir Czatzdo, mistakenly navigated up the Merri Creek instead of the Darebin Creek, and further compounded his error with a mistaken unit conversion leading him to believe that his destination was much further away than it was.
Camp Bellfield, as it was optimistically named, was slightly to the north of the present day location of Pipeworks, on the leeward side of a bluff that offered some protection from the elements. Intended as a temporary settlement, the miners were forced to winter there after flooding made the upper reaches of the Merri Creek impassible above their location.
A search expedition led by Sir Henry Upfield was sent after them the following spring, but failed to locate the men, many of whom had by now starved to death in any case. Upfield established the first settlement and post office in the area, and the slowly growing settlement eventually found the remains of Camp Bellfield, after which the area was named in memorial of the dead men.
Amazingly, Vladimir Czatzdo wandered back into the settlement in late 1856, showing signs of malnutrition but carrying a large quantity of gold dust that he claimed to have sieved from Merri Creek. Upon his recovery, he was questioned regarding the fate of his men, but claimed to have become lost in a storm and to have been wandering for months. Although Henry Upfield was suspicious of the Russian’s claims, he could prove nothing, and Czatzdo was eventually released with his gold, which he used to purchase a large house in East St Kilda.
Campbellfield continued to grow, and its location on what would become the main Sydney-Melbourne railway line served it well, making it an attractive place for industrial work of all sorts. Of all industrial names, it is the Ford Motor Company that is most associated with the region, and their factory, the largest in Australia, occupies about 10% of the suburb’s total area. In deference to Sir Henry, it is often described as being located in Upfield (a non-existent suburb) rather than Campbellfield.
Suburbs near Campbellfield: