Highett is a mainly residential suburb 16 km south-east of Melbourne between Moorabbin and Cheltenham. The name comes from Highetts Road, the name of the railway station which was built when the line from Caulfield to Mordialloc was opened in 1881. Highetts Road is believed to have been named either after John Highett, a grazier and drover (1836) or William Highett, parliamentarian and local land owner (1850s).
Notwithstanding the presence of a railway station Highett remained an agricultural district with a small township for longer than its neighbours. In 1932 when Highett's population was approaching 1000, there was a strip shopping centre near the railway station comprising about a dozen shops. Throughout Highett the most common retail businesses were wood yards and produce merchants. There were also an Anglican church (c1928), a recreation reserve and a hall (1926). During World War II there was a section of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Highett, and in 1952 the Highett Gas Works was the scene of a spectacular explosion.
Highett's most substantial residential growth began in the 1950s including about 150 Housing Commission dwellings around Bluff and Wickham Roads. Industry was attracted to the area, including a large CSIRO complex. A Catholic primary school was opened in 1952, a State primary school in 1953 and a high school in 1956. The strip shopping centre near the railway line expanded, and remains active.
Highett has three substantial recreational spaces, the largest in the east having three ovals and a swimming pool. Another, the William Fry reserve, is on part of the former gas works site. The Southland regional shopping centre, Cheltenham, is immediately south of the William Fry reserve.
Highett’s census populations have been: