Aspendale is a beach suburb 27 km south-east of central Melbourne and immediately south of Mordialloc. It is the northern-most suburb in the former Chelsea city, built on the Carrum Swamp which was drained in the early 1880s.
In 1882 the railway was extended from Mordialloc to Frankston over the foredune along the former swamp area. At about that time James Crooke purchased 131 acres of land immediately east of the present Aspendale railway station. Crooke’s mare, Aspen, had won Flemington’s premier open handicap sprint, the Newmarket Handicap, in 1880 and 1881. He named his Aspendale racecourse and pleasure ground after the mare, and the first race meeting was held in 1891. A railway station opened next to the racecourse in time for the first meeting.
House building was slower coming than race crowds. A district school opened in 1913 and, although named Aspendale, it was at Edithvale which was 2 km from Aspendale station and nearly 4 km from Mordialloc Creek. ‘Aspendale North’ school opened in 1925, since renamed Aspendale (439 pupils, 2014). By then there was a varied shopping centre around Aspendale station, including grocers, butchers, a post office (1908), a timber and hardware merchant, confectioners, tea rooms and a motor garage. The 1921 Sands and McDougall directory also recorded Anglican, Methodist and Union churches and three estate agents, a sure sign of house building.
Many houses hugged the streets running off Point Nepean Road to the beach. On the other side of the road there were estates north and south of the racecourse. The racecourse, closed in 1931, and became a motor racing venue. Its space was reserved for postwar housing.
In 1928 a State high school (Mordialloc District) opened in Aspendale on a scrub-covered site next to Mordialloc Creek. Chelsea city, of which Aspendale was the northernmost suburb, had golf courses in Chelsea and Edithvale. Aspendale had the Australasian golf links next to the old racecourse, and in about 1950 the links became the home of the Rosedale Golf Club.
All of Chelsea city was unsewered until 1965. Postwar housing slowly took up former farms and market gardens. Aspendale school opened in 1959, next to the primary school. A short way south CSIRO opened an atmospheric physics laboratory.
The Catholic Church was represented in Chelsea and Carrum, and it opened a church (1961) and a primary school (1965) in Aspendale.
New housing reached the suburb’s eastern boundary, Secondary Drain, by the early 1980s. In coming decades housing would go across Secondary Drain into a new suburb, Aspendale Gardens (see separate entry).
The Aspendale technical school was damaged by fire in 1971 completely destroying the science and arts wing and damaging adjoining classrooms. Despite community protest, the technical school was closed in 1992 as part of the Kennett government's state-wide closure of 50 schools, and its site was taken by a sports oval, a community hall and housing.
Aspendale’s beach reputation is evident from the many houses in the short streets running off Point Nepean Road. The surf life saving club dates from 1926.
Aspendale’s census populations have been: