Herne Hill, a residential suburb, is 3 km north-west of central Geelong. It was the most westerly part of the former city of Geelong West, extending from Minerva Road to the Moorabool River, and was possibly named after Herne Hill, England. In any event it slopes down to the river, and at a high end of the slope a place was chosen for a burial ground (1858).
There was a national school at Herne Hill (1861-63) and a longer-lived Methodist church (1875) in Aberdeen Street (now Newtown suburb). Away to the west, nearly to Fyansford, the Geelong Protestant and Orphan Asylum and common school was built in 1855.
The area between Herne Hill and Geelong West, Manifold Heights, was settled as early as the 1920s. Herne Hill’s residential growth came after World War II, and as late as 1939 there were complaints about straying dairy cows in Herne Hill.
Herne Hill reserve, immediately south of the cemetery, was designated for public purposes in about 1949. The State primary and Catholic primary schools opened in 1954 and 1955, and a State technical school opened in 1954. The Catholic Brigidine Sisters opened a convent and Clonard College in 1956. The college was next door to the technical school, and later expanded after the technical school closed.
The orphan asylum site was acquired by Portland Cement in 1933, but the buildings were retained and later used as a cement retiree’s centre and museum. They are heritage listed.
Herne Hill has Anglican and Uniting (former Presbyterian, 1963) churches, three reserves and undeveloped land on its western edge near the Princes Freeway (Geelong Ring Road). The State primary school had 253 pupils in 2014.
Its census populations have been: