Doncaster 3108Doncaster, formerly an orchard area, is now residential and is 1.5 km east-north-east of Melbourne.
Settlement a little to the west of Doncaster began with Unwin's Special Survey in Bulleen in 1841. Further settlement occurred along the Koonung Koonung Creek and other streams in the Doncaster area in the 1850s. Several of them were German, and a Lutheran church was the first one in Doncaster in 1858. A Lutheran school opened in 1860 and a denominational school in 1861.
The German community was named Waldau, but the name Doncaster gradually became commonly accepted. In 1854 John Robert Wilson, from Doncaster in Yorkshire, England, built the Doncaster Arms Inn on the track through the stringybark forest to the Warrandyte gold diggings. The track was later named Doncaster Road. An alternative derivation may be from William Burnley, a Richmond land developer, who sold land in Doncaster in the 1850s. He also was from Doncaster, England.
Early settlers earned income from timber and fire wood. The land proved suitable for cereals, vegetables and orchards. In the long term fruit was more profitable, and orchards predominated, growing citrus, pome and stone fruits.
The expansion of metropolitan train services by passed Doncaster. Attempts were made to get train services, but unsuccessfully. A home-made tourist attraction was the building of a look-out tower in 1877 on a hill beside Doncaster Road. It attracted visitors from the International Exhibition in Melbourne in 1888. The Exhibition also featured an electric tram, which became a prototype for a service from Box Hill to Doncaster in 1889. The service lasted until 1896, and tram trips to the look-out tower were a popular recreation.
Between 1875 and 1890 Doncaster was part of the Bulleen Shire. On 30 May, 1890, Doncaster was made a separate shire. Fruit growing became the mainstay of Doncaster's rural economy. A fruit grower's association was formed in 1892, the forerunner of co-operative ventures in fruit and jam processing, export refrigeration and local cool stores.
In 1915 Doncaster and the former Bulleen shires were united as Doncaster and Templestowe shire. Fruit growing remained prosperous until the depression and the rural landscape was only a little altered by suburban growth until postwar years. Between 1950 and 1955 the shires population grew at an annual average of 5%, and in the next five years the annual average growth was 28%. In 1963 G. J. Coles and Coy. Ltd. acquired a nine acre site at Whites corner, at the intersection of Doncaster and Williamsons Road. The corner then had a landmark two-storey general store, but it was an ideal green-fields drive-in shopping centre site where the only transport could be bus or private car. Later in the decade Westfield built Doncaster Shopping town at Whites corner, and by the 1990s its lettable floor area was 90,000 square metres A little eastwards are the site of the old look-out tower, the old shire offices and the modern civic centre.
Doncaster and Doncaster East's suburban girth is about six kilometres from Bulleen to Donvale. Running through the area is Doncaster Road, a carrier of heavy traffic volumes to and from central Melbourne. The prospect of fixed rail transport has been put aside in expectation that extension of the Eastern Freeway will relieve the traffic. Doncaster has several primary schools , a secondary college and several neighbourhood reserves. The Doncaster Municipal Gardens are a large open space. In the west of Doncaster is the Eastern Golf Links which dates from the 1920s.
Doncaster's census populations were 1158 (1911) and 1538 (1947).
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