American Adventist missionaries established a church and publishing house in North Fitzroy in 1885. The congregation grew rapidly following the arrival in 1891 of co-founder and prophet Ellen White (1827-1915), who for three years used Melbourne as her base, lecturing on health reform, temperance, biblical interpretation and prophecy, while her son oversaw the development of a school, health-food factory and additional congregations.
Despite its evangelical orientation, the church found common cause with secularists in opposing Sunday observance laws and Bible teaching in state schools. Its core beliefs - lacto-ovo vegetarianism and abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee, betting and gambling, cricket, tennis, football, horseracing and theatre - fostered a distinctive lifestyle, which was on public display at their annual camp meetings. Adventists opened Melbourne's first vegetarian restaurant in 1899, and introduced peanut butter and breakfast cereals. They were also involved in medical and social outreach, initially from North Fitzroy, and later from their Helping Hand and Medical Mission in La Trobe Street (1898-1906), but their emphasis on preparation for the Second Coming increasingly saw them living as 'strangers in a strange land'. Church headquarters moved to Sydney in 1898, and from 1904 Adventists began to congregate in Warburton, where they established printing works (1906) and a sanatorium and hospital (1910), relocating the Sanitarium health-foods factory in 1923.
At the beginning of the 21st century Melbourne's 6057 Adventists gather together in both local and ethnic-specific congregations, and maintain schools at their Nunawading camp meeting grounds and five other suburban locations.