Oakleigh 3166

Oakleigh is a residential suburb with considerable secondary industry 15 km. south-east of Melbourne, immediately beyond Caulfield and Malvern. Until 1853 the area was known as Scotchmans Creek, when the name Oakleigh was given to it. The name may derive form she-oaks growing near Scotchmans Creek, from Oakleigh Park, near Malvern Hills, Hertfordshire, England, or from an early settler, Mrs. Oakley.

Scotchmans Creek's headwaters are in present day Mount Waverley and flow westerly. In 1840 John McMillan leased the Scotchmans Creek grazing run, stretching over land from Mount Waverley to Oakleigh, which was later administered by a Shire named Oakleigh (1871-91) and then by Oakleigh borough (present day Oakleigh) and Oakleigh shire. Oakleigh shire was renamed Mulgrave in 1897. The connection between Oakleigh and Mulgrave was predominantly along Ferntree Gully Road, which began near the original Oakleigh township on Dandenong Road, known locally as the Broadway. Oakleigh's influence in the Mulgrave area was persistent, and the Mulgrave shire's Council meetings were held in Oakleigh township for the shire's first 23 years.

The Broadway is about 500 metres south of Scotchmans Creek, and it coincides with the place where an animal pound was established in 1842 (the South Yarra Pound). Nearby the South Yarra Inn was built a few years later. In 1853 the Oakleigh township was surveyed and allotments sold. An Anglican church was opened in 1854. Oakleigh was on two main roads, Ferntree Gully Road to the Dandenong Ranges and Dandenong Road to Gippsland. In 1865 Oakleigh was described as partially cleared land of variable quality, some being suitable for growing root vegetables. Timber cutting was the main industry. Short-lived primary schools had functioned in the early 1850s, and the forerunner of the present day school was began on a Wesleyan church site in 1855.

In 1877 the railway to Gippsland was begun, its Melbourne commencement point being Oakleigh. Two years later its extension from Oakleigh to South Yarra was completed. Oakleigh's strategic importance in railway movement was strengthened when a metropolitan ring railway, known as the Outer Circle, was opened in 1890, commencing a shirt distance west of Oakleigh at Hughesdale. The Gippsland railway line, about one kilometre south of the Broadway, occasioned the shift of Oakleigh's commercial centre.

The following year Oakleigh borough, bounded by Warrigal, Waverley, Huntingdale and Centre Roads was severed from the shire.

Oakleigh's urban potential was increased by the addition of part of Caulfield, comprising present day Hughesdale, in 1913. In 1924 Oakleigh was proclaimed a town and on 2 August, 1927, a city. By then the Oakleigh area was substantially built up, and housing was extending to Hughesdale and Huntingdale (East Oakleigh) in the vicinity of their railway station. At the close of the war these areas were described as rising suburbs.

Having expanded westwards into Caulfield in 1913, Oakleigh municipality expanded eastwards into Mulgrave shire in 1948, acquiring more of East Oakleigh, Clayton and Oakleigh South between Huntingdale and Clayton Roads. In 1959 another municipal extension into Mulgrave shire occurred, reaching as far as Blackburn Road including the site of the future Monash University and all of Clayton South. The enlarged Oakleigh city was unchanged when it was amalgamated with Waverley city (formerly Mulgrave shire) on 15 December, 1994, to form Monash city.

For the first ten postwar years Oakleigh's Warrigal Road was a boundary between a built up area to the west and a developing area with unmade roads to the east. This was particularly so as one moved southwards along Warrigal Road away from the railway line. The land in Oakleigh South was sandy and fairly flat, suitable for golf courses. The area has the Metropolitan. Commonwealth and Huntingdale Golf Clubs.

In 1960 the Chadstone drive-in shopping centre was opened on the border of Oakleigh, about 1.5 km. from the Oakleigh shopping centre. Although trading in the three or four active street in the Oakleigh shopping centre was maintained with one-way traffic and pedestrianisation, the contrast with climate-controlled Chadstone was apparent. In the early 1980s the railway goodsyards were redeveloped for the Oakleigh Central shops. Australia's first motel was opened on Dandenong Road, Oakleigh East (195 . . .) and the first 7-Eleven convenience store was opened on Warrigal Road (1977).

East of the shopping centre along the railway line there are substantial industrial properties, several lying idle from the reduction of Australia manufacturing. In the housing area postwar settlers have been replaced by later settlers, significant numbers being Greek, and later Turkish. However, despite the inflow of those residents the population of Oakleigh municipality during the mid 1990s experienced one of Victoria's fastest rates of decline.

Recreational areas in Oakleigh mainly comprise sports ovals. There are three near the Scotchmans Creek, and the football ground in Warrigal Road adjoins the cemetery and primary school, part of the early town survey.

The prominent red-brick Oakleigh Technical School (1946) and the High School (1955 - actually in Clayton) were closed and sold for housing in the mid 1990s.

The median house price in Oakleigh during 1987-96 was about the same as the median for metropolitan Melbourne. The median weekly income, however, was $256 in 1996, substantially less than neighbouring Caulfield ($351) and Waverley ($319). Forty-six percent of children in Oakleigh were assessed in 1997 as belonging to families on welfare benefits or classed as working poor, substantially more than in Caulfield or Waverley.

Oakleigh's census populations were 3,341 (1911), 11,903 (1933), 15,979 (1947). The census populations of Oakleigh municipality after the 1959 boundary change were 48,017 (1961), 57,284 (1971) and 55,151 (1981).

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