Sunday, March 25, 2012

Where I grew up

Its been some 30 years since I moved to the Melbourne Bayside area from the northern suburbs of Melbourne. Having my father stay a long weekend with Sue and I gave me sometime to reflect on my roots. I was born in Preston, a northern suburb of Melbourne. Initially it was called Irish Town. The early settlers came from Sussex in England and wanted to call it after their home city of Brighton but Melbourne already had a Brighton which was located on the bay. Preston was their next choice.

Taking Dad back home we decided on catching up with friends who have just bought a home nearby the old district - yes it has changed.

Preston was my birth home - later we moved further up the train line to Reservoir.
I often cycled from home through this intersection - not the traffic signals to the left hand side.

By a strange coincidence, their home is just around the corner from where I almost bought a block of land in the early 70's. The asking price back then was under $2000 and a reasonable home would have cost $8000 to $10000 to build.
At the time our family home was most probably only 2 kms away from that block. The land was under development and although the estate was surveyed in the 1918, it was still acres of farmland, mainly dairy and paddocks with some roads just going in. I remember distinctly that it was called "Merrilands Estate" and it was survey by a Saxil Tuxen who went on to do further work for many other government bodies. He took over his Danish father's practice around 1913 after his father's death.

The Real Estate agent took us to the block but was a little confused in locating it. So he unravelled the original Estate drawings. They were in a roll form with two pieces of doweling with the parchment attached at each end. The drawings showed a grand community with a Town Hall, Police Station and Post Office located on a huge roundabout. Behind this civic centre were the recreational fields designed for Football, Cricket and Cycling. On the outer section of the football field was to be a flat cycling velodrome.

Our second home was on the Merrilands Estate - not too far away was the Edward's Park Lake, an early playground for us kids with a bike. Edgar's Creek meandered through the Merrilands Estate until it was contained by a small spillway to form this lake.
Later as the population grew, the lake and the park developed to offer several form of recreation such as sailing, rowing and if brave enough, swimming.

This earlier postcard gives an impression that it was nearly a swamp. This was taken from the top end as the creek filled the lake.

We passed by these roads and grounds today and some of the sections intended by Tuxen are there, albeit in a more modern theme. The civic buildings never appeared. By the time the area was being developed in the 70's and 80's, there was no need for them. Remember this Estate was designed before much of the area had been developed but it got lost in time and as more land was required, it was opened up.

Edward Street was the main shopping centre of Reservoir and it ran down towards the Edward's Park Lake.
Initially the district was given the name of Reservoir as the area had three reservoirs constructed in 1864, 1909 and 1913 and was used to filter Melbourne's water supply from the Yan Yean catchment area, some further 30 kms further north at the foothills of the mountain range.

High Street in it's different forms runs from Melbourne to Reservoir.
I enjoyed growing up in the district, school, sport, friends gave great memories but as we grow,we change, move on. Our horizons grow, we develop and change the way we think. Although a wonderful rush of memories returned, our life in Mentone by the bay brings a lifestyle that would be hard to trade.


  1. What great memories. Property prices change so much. N had a property in Bath, UK, 30+ years ago when we first got married in S.Africa. We had so much trouble with the people renting it that we eventually sold. If only we had known what properties would be worth in Bath now, even with the depression!!! What we sold the house for then bought us our first second hand Porsche 911 Targa! Easy come easy go!! Diane

  2. A car for a house! Hmmmm that sounds like it was a very good car or an average house Diane. chuckle!!!

  3. I am also a 1950's boy from Reservoir and although I have lived in leafy Eltham for the past 34 years I still would not swap my childhood memories and youth. Keith.

  4. can you please tell me what used to be along mcfadzean ave close towards huges parade? im tryin to find out some local history about that little part from where i am but nobody can tell me anything

    1. You can contact me by email


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