Narre Warren is a suburb about 40 km south-east of central Melbourne.
The railway line from Melbourne to Gippsland was constructed in 1877. In 1883 a railway station was established to serve the village of Narre Warren, 5 km north of the line and now known as Narre Warren North. Surrounding orchards and dairy farms were then able to send their produce to Melbourne by rail. A small settlement soon developed near the station and was known first as New Narre Warren. The Victorian municipal directory described this settlement in 1896 as having a school, mechanics' institute and a store. The stationmaster also ran the post office.
The name Narre Warren is of Aboriginal origin, one of the various interpretations being small hills. Gradually New Narre Warren claimed the name, and the original Narre Warren became Narre Warren North. Stores and businesses were established along the Gippsland road which was immediately north of the railway line. In 1890, an avenue of oaks was planted along the road by a prominent resident, S.J. Webb, and one side of the oak avenue remains.
The farmlands around the village were worked by dairy workers, graziers, fruit growers and market gardeners. There were several minor watercourses, and later development needed a number of storm retarding basins to alleviate flooding. In 1938 the Sands and McDougall directory recorded an orchardists' coolstore, two storekeepers, a motor garage and a blacksmith. A mechanics' institute (1891) and a school (1889) were side by side in Webb Street.
Narre Warren (then Narree Worran) was described in the 1903 Australian handbook:
In 1956 a Russian immigrant, Isador Magid, began buying land at Berwick and Narre Warren, and started a housing estate at the corner of Princes Highway and Narre Warren North Road. In collaboration with Robin Boyd he put a landmark fountain and sculpture at the corner and built a street layout based on Radburn principles with linear parks running between the rear boundaries of houses. The estate was called Fountain Gate and had separate suburban status, c1979-93, until it was incorporated into Narre Warren.
There are Fountain Gate State primary and secondary schools (c1977, c1990) and the Fountain Gate regional shopping centre (1970) which has grown to over 320 shops. Despite the loss of its separate-suburb status, Fountain Gate found national recognition with the Kath and Kim televison series (2002-07), domiciled at Fountain Lakes, a mixture of Fountain Gate and Patterson Lakes.
Opposite Fountain Gate, across Narre Warren North Road, there was the memorial sports ground, with gate columns and an arch built from granite (1922). The sports ground has disappeared under a lifestyle centre but the memorial gates, sans arch, are re-installed near the Berwick (now Casey) civic centre in Magid Drive, Fountain Gate.
Urban Narre Warren adjoins urban Berwick, separated partly by the Princes Freeway. The freeway divides Narre Warren into urban sectors, each served by a State primary school:
|North||Maramba primary (1991)|
Oatlands primary (1996)
Don Bosco Catholic primary (1982)
|South east||Fleetwood primary (1996)|
|South||Fountain Gate schools|
The Mary McKillop Catholic primary school (1995) is just beyond Narre Warren, in Narre Warren North.
Shopping is concentrated at Fountain Gate and near the railway station. In 2012 Fountain Gate was enlarged to 174,000 square metres, with 440 stores and a new bus interchange, making it the second largest complex in Australia after Chadstone.
Narre Warren has several parks and reserves positioned on flood retarding basins and waterways. The little hills of Narre Warren are mostly north of the urban area.
Narre Warren's census populations have been:
Berwick-Pakenham Historical Society, In the wake of the pack tracks: a history of the Shire of Berwick, now the City of Berwick and the Shire of Pakenham, 1982
From bullock tracks to bitumen: a brief history of the Shire of Berwick, 1962
H. Coulson, Story of the Dandenongs 1838 1959, 1959
Heritage of the City of Berwick, Context Pty Ltd, 1993
N.E. Beaumont, Early days of Berwick and its surrounding districts of Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North, 3rd ed, 1979