Whitehorse City

Whitehorse City is a municipality formed on 15 December 1994, by the union of Box Hill and Nunawading cities. Its western boundary includes Warrigal Road and its easterly extremity includes the Dandenong Creek. The northern boundary is the Koonung Creek (closely paralleled by the Eastern Freeway) and the southern boundary is Highbury Road, a parish boundary dating from the nineteenth century. Whitehorse city’s area is 64 sq km and its office at Nunawading is 18 km east of central Melbourne.

The name came from Whitehorse Road (otherwise known as Maroondah Highway) which, along with a roughly parallel railway line, forms a main eastern arterial route to Melbourne. The road was named after the White Horse hotel (1853) at the corner of Whitehorse and Elgar Roads, Box Hill. Whitehorse Road has a tram service to Box Hill.

Whitehorse city has another east-west arterial route, Burwood Highway, near its southern boundary. Passing through Vermont South, Burwood East and Burwood, the highway enters Toorak Road en route to the South-Eastern Arterial. It has a tram service from Melbourne to Vermont South.

Whitehorse city’s early commercial and residential development was mostly along the Maroondah Highway railway line route. There is substantial pre World War I and interwar housing at Surrey Hills and Box Hill. Postwar housing grew around Blackburn and Mitcham and the last areas to be filled such as Vermont South were remote from public transport routes.

The city’s earliest shopping centre was around the Box Hill railway station. It has been supplemented by two enclosed malls, with two discount department stores, over 190 other outlets and an area of 38,000 sq metres. The earliest drive in shopping centre is at Forest Hill (1964) with a department store, two discount department stores, over 170 other outlets and an area of 57,450 sq metres. Burwood One (formerly K Mart Plaza) was the site of Australia’s first K Mart discount department store (1969). It has expanded to include two supermarkets and over 70 other outlets.

Maroondah Highway, Nunawading, is the home of Melbourne’s largest bulky goods strip, stretching a distance of 1.5 km. Shoppers mostly commute by car from outlet to outlet.

Box Hill and Burwood One have rail public transport and Forest Hill has a bus station. In addition to primary and high schools there are a TAFE at Box Hill and a large Deakin University campus on the Burwood Highway tramline.

In 2011 the census recorded the following foreign-born populations:

Country of birth % of total population
  Whitehorse Victoria
China 7.3 1.8
India 2.3 2.1
Malaysia 2.2 0.7
Vietnam 1.4 1.3

Chinese residents are concentrated in Box Hill where they are 20.4% of the population (2011 census).

Whitehorse city’s census populations have been:

census date population
1996 135,472
2001 139,549
2006 144,768
2011 151,334

Further Reading

Lesley Alves, Suburban heartland: a history of the City of Whitehorse, Richmond, 2010

Box Hill and Nunawading cities entries