The Parish of Boroondara, covering the areas comprising Kew, Hawthorn, Box Hill and Camberwell, was named by the Government surveyor, Robert Hoddle. In 1856 the Boroondara Road Board was created, a precursor of local government, with responsibilities for the areas administered by the later Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew municipalities. It is thought that Boroondara is an Aboriginal word meaning shady place.
Hawthorn and Kew were created separate municipalities in 1860 and the remaining area of the Road Board became Boroondara shire on 17 November 1871. The name was changed to Camberwell and Boroondara on 16 May 1902, and Boroondara dropped from the title on 15 May 1906. Boroondara continued to be the name of the cemetery in Kew, a park on the former Outer Circle railway and a primary school in Balwyn which was given that name in 1957.
On 22 June 1994, the State Government amalgamated Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew cities to form Boroondara city. Its area is 60 square kilometres.
Most of Boroondara city is well provided with public transport. A railway crosses it from west to east, passing through Hawthorn and Camberwell. From East Camberwell there is a spur line running south to Alamein, almost to Boroondara's southern boundary.
Tram lines are more generously provided, mostly from the initiatives of local tramway trusts sponsored by the councils in the early 1900s. Travelling east from central Melbourne tram lines cross Boroondara's western boundary at Barkers, Burwood and Riversdale Roads. The first two service Kew via High Street and Cotham Road. A Burwood Road tram also goes to Camberwell and Glen Iris. The Riversdale Road tram goes to Canterbury and Surrey Hills. There are also two north-south tram lines, Glenferrie Road and Burke Road. The former takes students to the numerous private schools in Kew and serves the Glenferrie shopping centre and the latter passes through the very active Burke Road shopping centre, Hawthorn and Camberwell. Camberwell junction is intersected by three tram routes. Between 2001 and 2006 there was considerable building of flats and units, although they are not located uniformly across the municipality.
Boroondara Council became one of the first in the country to ban smoking in public places in 2012, when it banned smoking in playgrounds, bus and tram stops, sports grounds and all council buildings.
Boroondara city's census populations have been:
James Bonwick, Sketch of Boroondara, 1858, 1968 (facsimile)
Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew entries