Kew East is a residential suburb 8 km north-east of central Melbourne. Its eastern boundary is Burke Road and its northern boundary is the Yarra River.
Kew East is bisected in a north-easterly direction by High Street, a thoroughfare from Kew to Doncaster. It was the main road through the locality, passing on the journey through Kew to Kilby Farm (north of the present Kilby Road), the Harp of Erin hotel (1854) and the Boroondara (Kew) cemetery. The cemetery was the outer edge of the Kew township, where the tram ended until 1924. Beyond the cemetery all was farmland apart from the hotel and a Congregational church (1859) and a school (1892), both at the corner of Burke and Kilby Roads.
In 1891 the Outer Circle railway line was built in a north-westerly direction through Kew East, intersecting High Street near the Harp of Erin Hotel. The line was opened partly with a view to stimulating speculative land subdivision, but the 1890s depression stopped both that and the line. Closed in 1893, the line in Kew was never re-opened. Its route is now a linear reserve.
The Kew East suburb is a product of the 1920s. A new primary school was built in 1923 and the tram was extended along High Street from the cemetery to Burke Road in 1924. A child health centre (1925) opened in Strathalbyn Street, one block from the school. Kew East’s middle class appeal is reflected in the opening of Anglican and Catholic churches, a Catholic primary school, and Baptist and Presbyterian churches and a church of Christ during 1925-31. The shopping centre along High Street grew during the same period.
The former Kew municipality had the highest concentration of private schools in metropolitan Melbourne. By 1963, however, there was need for a State high school and the Kew High School, at Kew East, was opened. It is a short way from the corner of Burke Road and High Street which is opposite Dickens corner, the site of G.J. Coles first supermarket (1961). Kew East also has small shopping centres at Harp and Burke Roads and in Kilby Road. Kew East primary school had 457 pupils in 2014 and Kew High School had 1028 pupils, 2014.
The northern edge of Kew East borders the Yarra River. It includes Willsmere Park with the Kew Billabong, and Hays Paddock which has several ovals and another billabong. Hays Paddock is watered by Glass Creek (named after the notorious speculator, Hugh Glass) which rises in Balwyn and passes through Stradbroke Park. The Paddock is flanked by the Eastern Freeway. On the other side of the freeway there are Kew and Green Acres Golf Clubs (1922, 1948).
From 1987 to 1998 the median house price in Kew East moved from 67% to 112% above the metropolitan median.
Kew East’s census populations have been: