Murphy Street

44 Murphy Street South Yarra

JohnMurphyMurphy Street South Yarra

“I think I will go to the mainland, buy an iron pot and brew some ale” announced John Murphy to his family. Having arrived as a free man in Van Diemans land several years earlier, that is exactly what he did. Murphy commenced his brewery at the western end of Flinders Street and it was his low grade beer “Sheoak Ale” for which he became famous. The beer became so famous that “Sheoak Ale” became a popular slang term for any low grade beer.

In June 1840, Murphy purchased Lot 3 which was 20 acres of land that became well known as Murphy’s paddock between what are now known as Caroline and Murphy Streets. The area between the Yarra and Domain Road became a vineyard run by a Swiss family who called it Murphy’s Vineyard, this area was also later known as Murphy’s Orchard.

By 1856 Murphy Street had twenty three houses, mostly timber cottages with numerous vacant lots sprinkled throughout the street. Slightly wider than Avoca, Darling or Caroline Streets, Murphy Street was proclaimed a public highway in 1887. The occupations of the residents were listed as coal merchants, watchmaker, accountant, squatters, merchant and an assorted mixture of artisans and middle class occupations.

Murphy Street is one of South Yarra’s finest and although many of the early Victorian and Edwardian houses have been pulled down and replaced with apartments there are still a number of timeless architectural treasures that remain. Number 44, otherwise known as “Mayfield” is an iconic pre-war Tudor style Mews.


Number 6 Murphy Street was once a ramshackle house with a picket fence where a family in reduced circumstances lived and used to burn the picket fence in winter. They nearly burnt the whole house down when the fire burned down the length of the picket and set fire to the floorboards. This site later became a squash court which was then converted into offices, this site is now waiting to be developed into the aptly named Six Murphy Street.

“Springfield” at 33 Murphy Street was formerly the home of Dame Jean McNamara. This was an early villa set in a beautiful garden from which the local ladies would draw water from the well to wash their hair as it was particularly pure. Dame Jean had a lot to do with Myxomatosis to control rabbit plagues. Number 33 was demolished and Cumberland Flats were built in its place.

This post is a very brief adaption from a Philippe Batters talk delivered to the Prahran Historical Society. For a more in depth history of Murphy Street South Yarra or if you’d like to know a bit more about your home drop us a line.

Recent Property Sales Up Your Street
402/8 Murphy Street, South Yarra $2,500,000 1st May 2019
408/6 Murphy Street, South Yarra $475,000 24th April 2019
12/51 Murphy Street, South Yarra $420,000 13th April 2019
34/30 Murphy Street, South Yarra $632,500 13th April 2019
8/22 Murphy Street South Yarra $645,000 17th November 2018

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