Mount Helen is an outlying residential area south of Ballarat, very nearly attached to Buninyong. It was one of several places, including Mount Pleasant and Mount Clear, on the spur railway line (1889-1947) between Ballarat and Buninyong. The origin of the name is uncertain.
The Victorian municipal directory recorded Mount Helen as a flag station from 1910 until 1947. In 1960 the Directory noted that Mount Helen was a grazing and residential district, a sign of its early urban growth. In 1966 educational authorities at Ballarat and the State education ministry were searching for a site for expanded tertiary education facilities and a location 1 km east of the residential area was chosen. The Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education at Mount Helen opened in 1970. It became the University of Ballarat in 1994 and Federation University in 2014.
Mount Helen is a short distance from town facilities of Buninyong and ten minutes drive from Ballarat. It has a neighbourhood shopping area and the nearest primary schools are at Mount Clear and Buninyong. There is a Catholic school and a secondary college at Mount Clear.
Parts of the surrounding pine plantations were cleared in 2011 to make way for housing development and provide a buffer zone for bushfires.
Mount Helen’s census populations have been:
Anne Beggs Sunter, Rich vein of learning: the origins of the University of Ballarat, 1869-1993, Ballarat, 1994
Western Bate, Life after gold: twentieth-century Ballarat, Melbourne University Press, 1993