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(3101, 6 km E, Boroondara City)

Kew is a predominantly residential suburb occupying the north-west corner of the City of Boroondara in Melbourne's inner east, bounded by the Yarra River to the north and west, Burke Road to the east and Barkers Road to the south. The first survey of the area was taken by Robert Hoddle, who divided the 1400 acres (570 ha) of what became known as the Parish of Boroondara into 150 blocks of different sizes. Blocks of the future district of Kew were on average larger than in Hawthorn, indicating that it was earmarked early for agriculture. The first sale of land displaced a squatter in 1843. The district's name, derived from the site of Kew Gardens in England, was first applied to the allotment north of Kew Junction, which was sub-divided in 1851.

Municipal government began with the establishment of the Boroondara Roads Board in 1856. Kew seceded and became a municipal district in 1860. Although Johnston Street Bridge (1858) and Victoria Bridge (1884) connected Kew with the inner suburbs, public transport links were slow to come, reflecting and contributing to slower housing and business development than in neighbouring Hawthorn and Collingwood. Farms were established early on the rich river flats, and subdivisions from the gold-rush period saw gradual development around Kew Junction and the construction of large mansions in Studley Park. The district, described in 1865 as 'in the most picturesque portion of the suburbs of Melbourne', attracted and retained the image of a residential enclave of quiet prosperity. By 1881 the suburb had the highest rate (63%) of owner- or purchaser-occupied housing in Melbourne.

Large schools, such as the Methodist Ladies' College (1882), churches, municipal buildings, clusters of shops and a spacious cemetery serviced the slowly expanding communities. The solid complex of law courts, police station and post office still standing at the junction of Cotham Road and High Street was opened in 1888; the post office is now a café servicing local office workers.

The troubled 1890s saw the debut and failure of the Outer Circle railway linking Kew to Camberwell and Oakleigh. Its route serves the needs of a different era and is now traced by a green bicycle path. Electric trams ran across Victoria Bridge from 1915, transporting a new Kew generation of what had been described in 1863 by the South Bourke Standard newspaper as 'that class who get their breakfasts, went away into town, and returned at night for their suppers'. After World War I housing development extended east and north and the district was gazetted as a City in 1921.

Metropolitan imperatives continued to shape Kew. The scenic Yarra Boulevard was constructed by unemployed relief labour during the depression. In 1931 £8000 in sustenance orders were made for Kew residents. Postwar prosperity saw continued residential development of the orchards and paddocks of East Kew, and in the 1970s the Eastern Freeway was cut through the billabongs of the Yarra Valley in North Kew.

As a result of council policy to limit industry, Kew had only 29 factories in 1927 compared with Hawthorn's 140. The district had become notable for its independent schools and hospitals putting rambling 19th-century mansions to new use. Studley House in Nolan Avenue was built around 1857 for John Hodgson MLC and is now incorporated in the Burke Hall campus. Ruyton Girls' School and Trinity Grammar School, Carey Grammar School, St George's Hospital and St Paul's School for the Blind are other Kew institutions incorporating large old Victorian houses. Raheen (formerly Knowsley, and now in private hands) in Studley Park Road, constructed in the mid-1880s, was purchased by the Catholic Church in 1917, becoming the residence of long-serving Archbishop Daniel Mannix. A different conversion of a 19th-century construction was the 1980s conversion of the Kew Asylum to residential units. Commenced in 1864 the asylum, sited and maintained in Kew despite the sustained objections of residents, had an existence quite separate from the adjacent domestic enclave.

State primary and secondary schools and parochial Catholic schools have educated many local children. 'Middle-class Catholicism is more visible in Kew than any other part of the heartland', Janet McCalman wrote of 1930s Melbourne in Journeyings (1993). Xavier College, Genazzano College and Sacred Heart Church remain as landmarks. Kew's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population was diffused after World War II by European and Asian communities and two synagogues are now located in the suburb. The City of Kew was incorporated into the City of Boroondara as part of State Government changes to local government in 1996. The district remains a predominantly middle-class area with many parks, municipal and sport and leisure facilities demonstrating its prosperity.

Sylvia Morrissey

Barnard, F.G.A., The jubilee history of Kew, Victoria: Its origin and progress, E.F.G. Hodges, Mercury Office, Melbourne, 1910. Details
McCalman, Janet, Journeyings: The biography of a middle-class generation 1920-1990, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1993. Details
Rogers, Dorothy, A history of Kew, Lowden, Melbourne, 1973. Details