Deer Park

Deer Park is a residential suburb on Ballarat Road, 18 km north-west of central Melbourne.

The area is in the parish of Derrimut, which was the name of an Aboriginal chief, and the parish name applied to the Deer Park area until the late 1880s. South of Deer Park is the Mount Derrimut homestead, the site of a shorthorn cattle stud, begun in 1850 by Septimus and Richard Morton. In 1885 part of the Mount Derrimut property was leased to the Melbourne Hunt Club, together with other land owned by W.J.T. Clarke.

The Hunt Club had moved there from Caulfield, where game had been driven out. A deer park was established by the Hunt Club on the leased property. In 1874 a primary school was opened and named Derrimut. It was situated in present day Deer Park, which was known as Kororoit Creek. By 1899 both the school, the railway station (1884) and the village were known as Deer Park. The Hunt Club built a hotel on the site of one which burnt down in 1856.

In 1874 Jones, Scott and Company started an explosives manufacturing plant at Kororoit Creek village. In 1925 it became Nobel Australia Limited, which was absorbed by Imperial Chemical Industries (I.C.I.,now Orica) in 1929.

Braybrook shire’s first hall and offices were constructed in Deer Park in 1885. The locality thus had a railway connection, post office, school, shire hall, explosives plant, quarrying and grazing. Deer Park was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:

I.C.I. expanded its activities with a leathercloth factory in 1938 (for upholstery and bookbinding), a synthetic ammonia plant in 1939, a dyestuffs plant in 1941 and a factory for plastic moulding powders and resins in 1947.

The early postwar years saw an I.C.I. workforce of about 2500. I.C.I. established a recreation club in the Hunt Club Hotel and provided a sports oval and bowling club.

In the mid-1970s land to the west of the I.C.I. plant and a Commonwealth reserve were subdivided for housing. There was a Catholic primary school (1955) and three State primary schools and a high school opened during 1971-76. At the north of Deer Park, on the boundary with St Albans, a drive in shopping centre was opened in 1979. Renamed Brimbank Central in 1995, the centre had 22,400 square metres of letable area, comprising nearly 70 shops with two supermarkets and a discount department store.

In 1998 the area of Deer Park south of Riding Boundary (now Foleys) Road was detached and named Derrimut, and four years later the north-eastern part (former explosives reserve) was detached for the suburb of Cairnlea. Deer Park lost about three quarters of its area. In 2009 the Cairnlea Park State primary school replaced the Deer Park school at the corner of Station and Ballarat Roads.

The shopping centre is opposite the old school site. Ballarat Road is less busy since the opening of the Deer Park Bypass section of the Western Freeway in 2009.

Kororoit Creek has an extensive linear reserve with walking trails. The Orica site on Ballarat Road is opposite the Deer Park Hotel. Its sports oval is a public facility and the Hunt Club building is a community arts centre.

A new medium security prison was under construction (2015-17) in nearby Ravenhall, next to the existing Metropolitan Remand Centre at Ravenhall.

Deer Park’s census populations have been:

census date population
1911 224
1947 397
2001 13,267
2006 12,152
2011 16,204

The suburb has a multicultural population, including residents who speak Maltese, Italian, Vietnamese, Spanish and Macedonian at home (2011 census).

Further Reading

Deer Park primary school no. 1434: centenary souvenir 1874-1974

Cairnlea and Derrimut entries