Balwyn 3103

I grew up in and around Balwyn, even played footy for the mighty Balwyn Tigers and its easy to see why it draws families to the area, as described by Kerrie O'Brien in The Age.

THIS part of Melbourne is often considered home to the establishment, to "middle Australia", with its manicured gardens, good-sized blocks and lovely, tree-lined streets. Combine that with plenty of parks, good shopping strips and various public transport options and you have an attractive place in which to live.

Balwyn - a marriage of the Gaelic "bal"and Saxon "wyn"to mean "home of the vine"- was once a mixture of bushland, small farms and award-winning vineyards. Development was accelerated through the goldrush of the 1850s and then the boom of the 1880s. Many houses there are Federation and Edwardian.

Balwyn North's development was largely after World War II, which is also reflected in the housing styles. Just 13 kilometres east of the city, the Skyhooks immortalised this pocket of Melbourne in the song Balwyn Calling.


Beckett Park and Maranoa Gardens.
Beckett Park opened in 1917 named after Robert Beckett, a councillor from 1892-1917 and features a centenary tower and Soldiers memorial.

Maranoa Gardens is a botanic garden of Australian Native plants and began in 1901 when John Watson purchased 3.5 ha of land, and has expanded in size in the 60's and again in the 80's.

Both Beckett Park and Maranoa Gardens have state significance for their rare and endangered plant species and natural heritage.

Lovers of literature will enjoy the suburb's excellent bookstores: The Balwyn Bookshop, at 417 Whitehorse Road, and The Merchant of Fairness, at 300 Whitehorse Road. With a good range of current releases, classics and a selection of local and overseas magazines, they are ideal places in which to lose yourself.

The stylish Balwyn Cinema at 231 Whitehorse Road is now part of the Palace chain, playing mainstream and arthouse films.

It dates to the 1930s and the architecture is Art Deco. Upstairs has recently been renovated and check out the chandelier downstairs.

Locals are fans of Jazz Ria, at 228 Whitehorse Road, a popular Malaysian restaurant with a jazz soundtrack. It's a funky space and serves excellent food - think Chinta Ria in the suburbs. If you're velcroed to the couch, takeaway is also an option, just pop on a Charlie Parker CD to capture a little of the atmosphere.

The new Balwyn Park craft market is on the first Sunday of every month at the Bowls Club car park in Whitehorse Road, in the Balwyn Gardens. It runs from 9am until 2pm. Wares on offer, include second-hand goods, plants, craft and homemade treats. (The Rotary Club of Balwyn runs the nearby Camberwell Market.)

Belmore Meats is an organic butcher in Belmore Road that comes highly recommended, selling the full gamut of preservative-free, biodynamic meats. Rendinas Butchery, on the same road, is said to do an excellent Christmas ham.

Real-estate troupers would do well to cruise around Balwyn, checking out the magnificent houses.

There's a lot that fits the "you wish"list, particularly in elevated areas with views across roofs and treetops, to the city's skyline.

Keen to avoid bumper-tobumper traffic and do your bit for the environment? Cyclists can follow the bike path that runs along the Eastern Freeway into the city.

The Northern Swimming Pool, near the Gordon Barnard Reserve is popular, particularly at this time of the year.

Although technically it's in Surrey Hills, the Balwyn Community Centre at 412 Whitehorse Road is a great resource for locals. Drawing, painting and ceramics classes, book groups, occasional child care and room hire are some of the services.



In Balwyn and Balwyn North, there are eight primary schools including Booroondara Park Primary. For senior students, there is Balwyn High School, one of the top schools in the state, which is ranked higher than many private schools and Fintona Girls'. In Balwyn North, there are two high schools (Balwyn, years 7-10, Greythorn, years 11-12).


Apart from the locale itself being leafy and green, there are more than a dozen outdoor spaces in both Balwyn and Balwyn North, such as the Northern Swimming Pool, Studley Park and the golf course at Kew. There are several tennis courts and the Koonung Creek Reserve runs along the border of North Balwyn.


Commuters can choose from a range of public transport options - trams, trains and buses service the area well.

The Eastern Freeway provides access into and out of town, and major arterial roads such as Whitehorse, Burke and Balwyn roads cross both suburbs.


Whitehorse Road was named after an early inn situated on the corner of Elgar Road. In the 1850s, roads - particularly Whitehorse Road - were in very bad shape.

They were extremely muddy and it was difficult for drays and coaches to cross. One section was called the Bay of Biscay because of the thickness of the mud.

Balwyn calling
By Kerrie O'Brien
December 17, 2005

Balwyn History

Balwyn is a residential suburb 10 km. east of Melbourne. To its south are Canterbury and Surrey Hills and northwards are Balwyn North and Greythorn, which extend to the Koonung Koonung Creek.

Balwyn was part of Henry Elgar's Special Survey of 8 square miles (1841), which was subdivided into small farms and grazing runs. One of the subdivisions was bought by a Scots editor and journalist, Andrew Murray (1813-80), in the late 1850s. He built a house which he named Balwyn, approximately on the site of the present Fintona Girls' School in Balwyn Road. Murray planted a vineyard, and reputedly derived "Balwyn"from the Gaelic "bal"and the Saxon "wyn". Other vineyards prospered until the 1890s, and grape vine branches formed part of Camberwell city's crest. Balwyn was in the north of Camberwell city.

In 1868 the Balwyn primary school was opened in Balwyn Road, about 100 metres north of Whitehorse Road. It was moved to the present site, south of Whitehorse Road, in 1880, opposite Murray's property. Balwyn's first town centre was near the intersection of Balwyn and Whitehorse Roads, containing a few shops, a blacksmith and the athenaeum or mechanics' institute. Anglican services began in 1868 and the St. Barnabas church, Balwyn Road, was opened in 1872. It is on the Register of the National Estate.

The southern part of Balwyn contains Deepdene, which in 1891 had a station on the Outer Circle railway running from Oakleigh to Fairfield via Camberwell. The railway was built with land subdivision sales in view, but its partial closure in a few years dampened prospects. A service continued from Camberwell to Deepdene until 1943, the last steam train service in metropolitan Melbourne, the "Deepdene Dasher". Deepdene's residential development awaited tramline extension in 1916 - northwards along Burke Road to Whitehorse Road and eastwards along Whitehorse Road to Surrey Hills. Further to the north Balwyn had neither train nor tram, and a tram extension along Doncaster Road did not come until 1938. The terminus, however, was short of Balwyn's easterly limit and the areas beyond the terminus (Balwyn North and Greythorn) awaited development in the 1950s and 1960s.

Deepdene primary school was opened in 1915. The Camberwell Grammar School, at the southern edge of Deepdene, occupies "Roystead", which was a name given to one of the stations on the Outer Circle. Deepdene has an active strip shopping centre along the Whitehorse Road tramline, and further east Whitehorse Road shops are situated in Balwyn.

Balwyn's strip shopping centre is larger than Deepdene's, with a council library and community centre nearby. There are several reserves, one of them being Beckett park on an elevated site. Adjoining the park is the Maranoa Garden, planted with a diverse collection of Australian flora. Oliver J. Gilpen's mansion, subsequently Mary's Mount convent and accommodation for elderly persons, is near Maranoa Gardens.

At the boundary between Balwyn and Balwyn North, the Yooralla Hospital for Crippled Children (Carlton) opened a branch at the corner of Belmore and Balwyn Roads. The locality is known as Yooralla, along with the few shops and a post office, although the school has altered in scope and is the Belmore Special School.

Between 1987 and 1996 the median house price in Balwyn was about 75% above the metropolitan median.

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