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Deer Park

(3023, 17 km W, Brimbank City)

An industrial-residential suburb, Deer Park derives its name from the deer stocked there by the Melbourne Hunt Club until the late 1890s. Pastoralism characterised early European settlement: the Clarke family's vast Rockbank Estate dominated the district, while brothers Septimus and Richard Morton established their famous Shorthorn cattle stud at Mount Derrimut in 1850. The property is today a field station for the University of Melbourne's School of Agriculture and Forestry. Agriculture was promoted, with several selectors taking up land under the Land Act 1869. The local soil's poor quality encouraged mixed farming, usually hay-growing and grazing.

Deer Park's isolation from Melbourne early recommended it as a site for the location of dangerous and noxious trades. The Australian Explosives and Chemicals Co. Ltd, originally an Anglo-German venture whose works had been established on Kororoit Creek in 1875, manufactured a range of explosive compounds and diversified into fertilisers in 1904. Subsequently acquired by Nobel (Australasia) (1925) and Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand (1928), these works grew into a massive industrial complex, employing 2452 workers by 1951. Deer Park was also considered several times as the locality to which the Newmarket saleyards and associated noxious trades would be removed, first in the 1870s and 1880s, and again in the 1920s and 1950s.

Although chemical production continues at Deer Park, the suburb's manufacturing functions have been supplanted by residential development. The Albion explosives complex, built in 1940 and closed in 1980, was demolished in the late 1990s and the Cairnlea estate developed on the site, while continued development at Caroline Springs, Burnside and Melton is gradually encircling Deer Park with a new belt of outer suburbs.

Damian Veltri