Heidelberg West 3081

Heidelberg West is a residential area 11 km. north-east of Melbourne, north of Banksia Street and on the east side of the Darebin Creek. It is relatively remote from the railway line and was developed for residential living by the Housing Commission in the 1950s.

Most of Heidelberg West was known as Portion 4 in the 1838 subdivision of the Heidelberg district. It was purchased by George Porter, speculator and businessman. The area was farmed and remained in the Porter family until 1907. Although good for farming it was flat and unappealing compared with the elevated parts of Eaglemont and Ivanhoe. In 1933 Heidelberg West had a census population of 879, mostly north of the Repatriation General Hospital. There were seven shops in Bell Street and a few in St. Hellier Street. Residences were interspersed with poultry and dairy farms.

In 1953 the Housing Commission announced that the part of Heidelberg West bounded by Southern Road, Oriel Road, Dougherty Road and Liberty Parade would be the site for the 1956 Olympic Games atheletes' village. It is contemporaneous with the Commission's Alamein estate, and like it has street names associated with the second world war (including an Alamein Road). The village was later made available for private occupancy, in keeping with the other housing to the east. A primary school had been opened in 1952, and much of the adjoining housing had been occupied by former residents of Camp Pell, a community housed in former Army accommodation in Royal Park, Parkville.

From Southern Road to Banksia Street nearly all of the housing was built by the Commission in the mid 1950s. The project proceeded rapidly, requiring the opening of three secondary schools - a high school in 1954 (later Banksia secondary college), a technical school in 1955 (later a TAFE) and a girls' high school in 1957 which became Waterdale high school and was subsequently closed. The area was served by the existing Heidelberg West primary school in Haig Street (1925), and another was opened at Heidelberg Heights in 1960, beside the girls' high school. It, too, was subsequently closed.

The part of Heidelberg West north of Southern Road has four small local shopping areas, and the one at Olympic village was refurbished in 1996/7. Northland regional shopping centre is on the other side of the Darebin Creek, within walking distance for some residents. Rosanna's shopping centre is closer for others. The other part of Heidelberg West has a unique shopping centre in Bell Street, arguably Australia's first drive-in shopping centre, dating from 1956. It was incorporated in the Housing Commission's design for the housing estate. There are also a few other corner or local shopping areas.

Nearly all of Heidelberg West's border with the Darebin Creek is parkland, which includes a bike trail and some sports facilities. Elsewhere local reserves are somewhat sparse, although there are two large areas roughly central to Heidelberg West.

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