Heidelberg West and Heidelberg Heights

Heidelberg West is a residential area 11 km north-east of central Melbourne, north of Banksia Street and on the east side of the Darebin Creek. It is relatively remote from the railway line and was developed for residential living by the Housing Commission in the 1950s.

Most of Heidelberg West was known as Portion 4 in the 1838 subdivision of the Heidelberg district. It was purchased by George Porter, speculator and businessperson. The area was farmed and remained in the Porter family until 1907. Although good for farming it was flat and unappealing compared with the elevated parts of Eaglemont and Ivanhoe. In 1933 Heidelberg West had a census population of 879, mostly north of the Repatriation General Hospital. There were seven shops in Bell Street and a few in St Hellier Street. Residences were interspersed with poultry and dairy farms.

Olympic Village

In 1953 the Housing Commission announced that the part of Heidelberg West bounded by Southern Road, Oriel Road, Dougherty Road and Liberty Parade would be the site for the 1956 Olympic Games athletes' village. It is contemporaneous with the Commission's Alamein estate, and like it has street names associated with World War II (including an Alamein Road). The village was later made available for private occupancy, in keeping with the other housing to the east. A primary school had been opened in 1952, and was renamed Olympic Village (1956).  Much of the adjoining housing was occupied by former residents of Camp Pell, a community housed in former Army accommodation in Royal Park, Parkville.

Housing Commission

From Southern Road to Banksia Street nearly all of the housing was built by the Commission in the mid-1950s. The project proceeded rapidly, requiring the opening of three secondary schools – a high school in 1954 (later Banksia secondary college), a technical school in 1955 (later a TAFE) and a girls' high school in 1957 which became Waterdale high school and was subsequently closed in 1983. The area was served by the existing Heidelberg West primary school in Haig Street (1925), and another was opened at Heidelberg Heights in 1960, beside the girls' high school. It, too, was subsequently closed (1993). There is also a Catholic primary school.

The part of Heidelberg West north of Southern Road had four small local shopping areas, and the one at Olympic village was refurbished in 1996-97. Northland regional shopping centre is on the other side of the Darebin Creek, within walking distance for some residents. Rosanna's shopping centre is closer for others. The other part of Heidelberg West has a unique shopping centre in Bell Street, arguably Australia's first drive-in shopping centre, dating from 1956. It was incorporated in the Housing Commission's design for the housing estate. It was the site of Aldi’s first supermarket (2003) in Victoria, and has become Heidelberg West’s shopping centre.

Nearly all of Heidelberg West's border with the Darebin Creek is parkland, which includes a bike trail and some sports facilities. Elsewhere local reserves are somewhat sparse, although there are two large areas roughly central to Heidelberg West. The Olympic Village area has a community health centre, child care centres, a kindergarten and a leisure centre. The junior campus of Charles Latrobe College at Heidelberg West was damaged by fire in 2012.

Heidelberg Heights

East of Heidelberg West there is Heidelberg Heights. Median house prices were markedly different:

  1987 1998 2012
Heidelberg West $68,000 $88,000 $413,500
Heidelberg Heights $83,000 $148,000 $522,500

Source: Valuer-General, Victoria

Heidelberg Heights has LaTrobe College, formerly the local primary school and Heidelberg Girls’ high school. There are local shops and neighbourhood reserves. The suburb’s southern boundary, Banksia Street, includes the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.

Census populations have been:

Census date population
  Heidelberg West Heidelberg Heights
1933 879 -
2001 5204 6119
2006 5097 6050
2011 5327 6388

Further Reading

Bellfield and Camp Pell entries