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Sunshine – a history

The township of Sunshine was previously known as Braybrook Junction.

The Braybrook Junction Post Office opened on the 25th of August 1890. In 1904 H.V. McKay bought the Braybrook implement works. In 1906 McKay moved his agricultural machinery manufacturing business from Ballarat to Braybrook Junction.  The Sunshine Harvester Works became the largest manufacturing plant in Australia.

McKay had also secured 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land at Braybrook Junction with the aim of establishing housing to encourage his workers to settle nearby. In 1907 the area was renamed Sunshine after residents petitioned to change the name in honour of the Sunshine Harvester Works. The name ”Sunshine” is assumed to have been given by McKay to his harvester works after he attended a lecture by the American evangelist Reverend Thomas de Witt Talmage who visited Victoria in 1894.

In 1907 an industrial dispute between McKay and his workers led to the ‘harvester judgement’. This benchmark industrial decision led to the creation of a minimum living wage for all Australian workers.

McKay’s concept for Sunshine was for a community developed according to the ideals of the ‘Garden City’ movement, an influential town planning idea of the early 20th Century.  Infrastructure established by McKay included electric lights, parks and sports grounds, public buildings, schools and a library, and the town was regarded as an ideal industry centred community. Housing for employees swelled the local population and the town of Sunshine was touted as the ‘Birmingham of Australia’.

A train disaster at Sunshine station on April 20th 1908 killed 44 people and injured 431, putting the new suburb on the map for all the wrong reasons.

Sunshine was not immune when many Australian based manufacturing industries started winding down during and after the 1970s. In 1992 the Masey-Ferguson factory (formerly the Sunshine Harvester Works) was demolished to make way for the development of the Sunshine Marketplace.

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