Local History Overview

The early 1900s were active years for the Waverley area. In 1905, the Glen Waverley township, formerly known as Black Flat, was officially gazetted and Waverley became Mount Waverley. Among many significant milestones, Mount Waverley Primary School was opened in 1906 and the first football match at Glen Waverley Reserve was played in 1908.

St Stephens Church is the oldest church in what was known as the City of Waverley, and was opened in 1865.

Mount Waverley Library is home to The Waverley Historical Society (WHS), formed in 1970 to record and preserve the history of the district. Many of the members of the society were descendants of pioneer settlers.

More information on local history groups and resources can be found at Monash Libraries:

Monash History

Although the City of Monash was created as recently as December 1994, the area's history of settlement stretches back more than 150 years.

The original inhabitants of the area were the Bunurong tribe, which were one of four tribes that made up the Kulin nation that lived in what was to become Melbourne and surrounding areas. Tales were told at around the time of the Gold Rush of the Bunurong holding corroborees at the junction of Ferntree Gully and Dandenong roads. The tribe gradually dispersed under the pressure of increasing European settlement.

The first known settler in the district was Thomas Napier, a Scottish builder, who established Bushy Park Run in 1839 on the western side of Dandenong Creek in the vicinity of Jells Park. Another Scot, John McMillan, leased a 5 square mile pastoral run known as Scotchmans Creek in 1840. The area's most notable land owner was Judge Sir Redmond Barry, who passed sentence on Ned Kelly. Barry owned two large properties, Syndal and St John's Wood, now the home of the Riversdale Golf Course.

In 1853, the Parish of Mulgrave, as the area was first known, was surveyed and the first blocks of land were sold in Oakleigh in the same year. The first subdivision of land in Mount Waverley occurred in 1854. It's conjectured that this area's name was inspired by the Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott.

In 1857, the Oakleigh and Mulgrave District Roads Board was formed to raise money to turn dirt tracks into roads for carts, pedestrians and other traffic. By a quirk of history, the boundaries of the roads board closely match that of the current City boundaries.

By 1861, there were 15 brick or stone houses, 167 wooden houses, 8 tents and 25 slab, bark or mud huts and a population of 1,108.

The Shire of Oakleigh was proclaimed in 1871 with the cessation of the Roads District, and in 1879 a pivotal event occurred in the area's development - the Oakleigh to Melbourne rail line was opened. What became known as "railway fever" led to a land boom in the Oakleigh area. A side effect of the boom was that Oakleigh was severed from the rest of the Shire and named the Borough of Oakleigh. The rest of the shire was renamed the Shire of Mulgrave in 1897 and it kept this name until 14 April 1961 when it was proclaimed the City of Waverley.

While the Railway Workshops at Oakleigh became the major industry in the area, dairy farms, orchards and market gardens began to dominate at the turn of the century. Market gardens were particularly important around Clayton, growing everything from flowers to cauliflowers. Local dairy farmers and orchardists began to export their produce nationally and internationally as early as the 1890s. Brickworks, pipemaking and sand-mining were also important.

The electrification of the Oakleigh line in 1922 and the opening of the Darling to Glen Waverley (once known as Black Flat) line in 1930 further opened up housing developments and caused the gradual retreat of the market gardens. Residential and industrial developments boomed after the second world war in areas such as Clayton, Mulgrave and Mount Waverley. In 1949, the Housing Commission became a major contributor to development in the Jordanville area, building 1,785 homes up until 1962.

In March 1961, one of Australia's leading universities, Monash University, was established in Clayton, and in 1968 the then Victorian Football League unveiled its plans for a new premier football ground to be known as Waverley Park.

For a more in depth look at the history of the City of Monash and the region, please see:  Detailed History.

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Last updated: 01 July 2021