Park Orchards 3114

Park Orchards began as a bush-land subdivision during the 1920s and has retained that quality until the present day. It is 23 km. east-north-east of Melbourne, situated between Ringwood (to its south) and Warrandyte.

Before its 1920s subdivision Park Orchards was part of the orchard country covering Doncaster and Warrandyte. In 1902 the prominent orchardist, Tom Petty, purchased nearly one square mile of the Park Orchards district, converting it to eighty orchard blocks with wind breaks of pine trees and natural bush. Another orchardist, a nephew of Petty's, bought 100 acres north of Petty's holding.

In 1925 Australis Sharp and John Taylor, South Melbourne timber merchants, bought 600 acres (including Petty's land), and had it subdivided by Saxil Tuxen and Miller. (Tuxen had worked with Walter Burley Griffin on the Ranelagh estate, Mt. Eliza and the Glenard estate, Heidelberg. Sharp and Taylor had owned the Ranelagh estate, and Park Orchards was designed on the same "country club"principles.) The circular street pattern is distinctively Griffin-inspired.

The subdivision was unsuccessful. About thirty lots sold, although a golf course lasted into the 1930s and a chalet was built. It continues until the present day as a functions venue. During the war several acres near the chalet were used by the Army for a secure radio interception area, and about 400 personnel were housed there. Apart from that, a few houses, orchards and pine trees covered the subdivision.

By the late 1950s more residential blocks were occupied and a post office and store were opened. A primary school was opened in 1961. In 1970 a Catholic church building (ex-Camp Pell chapel, Parkville), was re-erected at Park Orchards, and a school added to it.

The house lots are large, the smallest being more than thirty-five metres by sixty metres. Some are 100 metres deep. The roads mostly are without footpaths, and are tree-lined. The 100 acres north of Petty's Orchard was kept as natural bush land and named The 100 Acres. It has walking tracks and four dams.

The absence of footpaths is partly accounted for by a taste for bushland, and also by the distances created by large allotments. Cars are accommodated on ample off-street parking space, and the area is served by a solitary bus service.

Houses range from ordinary weatherboard to spacious split-level. The local shopping area is functional and unadorned. Nearby are a reserve, the chalet, a community house and the school. The Catholic church is near another reserve and The 100 Acres.

The median house price in Park Orchards in 1987 was nearly double the median for metropolitan Melbourne and in 1996 it was 84% above the metropolitan median.


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