It sounds like something out of Harry Potter, or perhaps Viking legend, but in fact, Ravenhall is a real place. Located on the western fringe of Melbourne, it consists largely of open fields, with three major sites located inside it: the Ravenhall Quarry (owned and operated by Boral), and two maximum security prisons, the Metropolitan Remand Centre (for prisoners yet to be convicted of any crime) and the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre (for female prisoners who have been convicted of crimes), both of which are owned by Corrections Victoria, a state government agency, but operated by private companies due the greater efficiencies that competition between privatised institutions brings: under privatisation, prisoners can choose which American-owned company will violate their civil rights with the greatest profit margin.
It is these prisoners that give the area its name. They are known as Ravens for a number of reasons, including their harsh, inhuman cries; their love of stealing shiny objects, and and their distinctive black clothing (which is similar to that worn by goths only more uniform, of lower quality, and usually faded to a horried grey-green by repeated washings). Originally, there was only the one Raven-hall in Ravenhall – the women’s prison – but the Remand Centre has become a second Ravenhall.
The area today remains largely undeveloped, as no one wants to live near prisons, quarries or freeways, and these are about the only natural resources to be found in Ravenhall. The major railway line connecting Melbourne and Adelaide runs through the northern part of the suburb, but there is no station – and although one has been proposed, and would located in Ravenhall, it would likely be called the Caroline Springs station in any case (as that neighbouring and profoundly residential suburb is quite built up). Regardless of its name, a railway station would probably serve as a spur to further development in Ravenhall, and the inevitably NIMBYing that would follow would likely see the prisons move to somewhere out of sight and mind, in order that the human rights abuses not disturb the neighbours – and in the process, a vital link with the area’s history and the rationale for its name would be lost.
Suburbs near Ravenhall: