Wattle Park

Wattle Park is a residential locality adjoining a regional parkland of 55 hectares, 13 km east of Melbourne. It is part of the suburb of Surrey Hills.

In 1916 the Hawthorn Tramway Trust extended tram services eastwards past Burke Road, pushing beyond recent subdivisions and residential house building. The trust hit on the idea of putting a pleasure ground at the tram terminus and purchased the elevated land on the south side of Riversdale Road between Warrigal and Elgar Roads. Thousands of native trees, mainly wattles, were planted during 1926-28, adding to those already there. The name Wattle Park came naturally. The only other land uses were farms and the Burwood Boys' Home (1896, now a retirement village), on Wattle Park's southern boundary.

In 1926, in anticipation of the tram being extended from Warrigal Road to Elgar Road, a neighbourhood shopping centre was laid out at the proposed terminus. The tram extension came in 1928. House building was spasmodic, and some sites were not yet auctioned in the late 1930s and early 1940s. During the postwar years the Orana Methodist children's home (1953) and the Wattle Park high school (1962) were opened, both adjoining the southern boundary of the park. The opening of the high school coincided with the growing up of postwar families. Its function was apparently completed when its closure came in 1992. Both the school's site and the Orana site have been used for housing.

Wattle Park's management was transferred from the tramways body to Parks Victoria in 1991. The park's outstanding architectural feature is the Chalet reception centre, and the whole of the park with its picnic shelters, tramways band rostrum, memorial clock tower, curator's cottage, pond and rockeries is on the Victorian Heritage Register. The Melbourne Tramways Band gave its first free open air concert in Wattle Park in 1940, and the concerts continue. There are tennis courts and there is a nine-hole golf course in the south-west section of the park.

The neighbourhood shopping centre at the tram terminus has retained most of its retail functions.

Further Reading

Ray Peace, Eliza's vision: a history of Wattle Park 1838-2006, Prahran, c2006

Margaret Spratt and Mike Tegg, A school for boys: 75 years at Wattle Park 3841, the school, 1989