Prior to the building of the Yan Yean dam, Northcote residents drew their water from a number of sources. The Merri and Darebin creeks were the primary source of water, although that could involve a lengthy walk to wash the clothes and get fresh drinking water. On washing days clothes would be washed in the creek and thrown over bushes to dry.
Water pipes were established on Sumner Avenue and at the Peacock Inn Hotel, selling water to both local farmers and residents. The stand pipe at the Peacock was on the footpath, eight foot high with a canvas pipe. Carts would pull along side the pipe and fill their barrels. Customers would pay for their water at the bar in the hotel, no doubt encouraging a degree of additional trade in beer.
In 1853 the Yan Yean project brought water through Northcote to the city. A track was built next to the water pipes, which would one day grow to become St. Georges Road.
Despite the entire Melbourne water supply gushing through Northcote, most of Northcote’s residents depended upon storage tanks and water carts for many years. In was only in the 1880s that mains water became common in Northcote and the surrounding area.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
Swift, William George (1928). The history of Northcote: From its first settlement to a city. Northcote, Vic: Leader Publishing.