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(3195, 25 km SE, Kingston City)

Mordialloc lies on Port Phillip Bay where the Mordialloc Creek, which drains from the Carrum Swamp, meets the sea. The sand dunes here were a favourite summer camp for Boon wurrung people, who hunted the eels, small marsupials and water fowl of the creek and swamps and collected shellfish along the shore. An Aboriginal reserve was situated south of the Mordialloc Creek, near the coast, from 1841 to 1878, although parts were sold in 1865. Adopted by an early squatter as the name for his run covering the district now known as Keysborough and Braeside, the name was derived from a Boon wurrung term, moody or mordy yallock meaning 'near little sea'.

By the early 1840s there were three squatting runs in the area, but travellers en route to the Mornington Peninsula were constantly bogged in the swampy ground surrounding the creek. In the 1850s a bridge was built across the creek and a Main Road was proclaimed between Mordialloc and Mornington in 1863. This improved conditions for travellers but because it was a toll road many drove their stock along the beach to market in order to avoid the toll, which was eventually abolished in 1874.

A local squatter, Alexander McDonald, built a primitive Travellers' Rest Inn here in 1841 and another small hotel on the site of the present Mordialloc Hotel in 1853. Mordialloc also attracted many fishermen, including Croskell, Ritchie & Co. who, in the early 1860s, built stables and quarters, supplying fish for daily auctions in Melbourne. According to one local historian so many of the fishermen were of Scottish descent that Mordialloc was often known at this time as Gaelic Town. In the 1850s a number of Chinese fishermen were also based here, catching and salting fish for sale to Chinese miners on the Victorian gold fields. For a while grape-growing was a minor local industry, but most of the land away from the coast near Mordialloc was devoted to cattle. In the 1860s part of the Carrum Swamp, which stretched from the Mordialloc Creek to Frankston, was the local farmers' common. But in the 1860s, just as the land between the coast and the swamp was surveyed and offered for sale, Mordialloc had also been discovered as a recreational mecca that offered safe bathing and successful fishing and hunting. One local hotelkeeper sponsored hunts in conjunction with the Melbourne Hunt Club.

The opening of the railway line from Caulfield in 1881 boosted the number of visitors, although some also came by bay steamer, which cruised down the bay daily in summer. Local boat-builder Pompeys had a long-standing family business. Although Mordialloc remained a small village with a population of only 400 in the late 1880s, it steadily attracted tourists and picnickers through to the mid-20th century.

Mordialloc was also a centre for horseracing. Epsom racecourse was the first to be established, in the mid-1880s, followed by Mentone in 1888. The Richfield racecourse lasted only a few years, but the nearby Aspendale racetrack took its place. Mentone racecourse was closed to racing in 1948 but used as a training track until it was subdivided for housing in 1972. The Epsom course closed in 1938 but remained a training course until the late 1990s. A number of horse trainers have been based in the Mordialloc district from the late 19th century to the present.

In 1920 Mordialloc separated from the Shire of Moorabbin to form the Borough of Mentone and Mordialloc, which became the City of Mordialloc in 1926. After the Parkdale railway station opened in 1924 the residential part of the city began to develop, but Mordialloc's population did not begin to increase markedly until after World War II. Some parts of the municipality, particularly around Braeside, remained predominantly rural in character until the 1970s. Despite the development of Mordialloc, the foreshore reserve and creek continued to be identified as centres for aquatic recreation. In 1995 the City of Mordialloc was split between the two new cities of Bayside and Kingston.

Jill Barnard

McGuire, Frank, Mordialloc - the early days: A brief history, Mordialloc Community Committee for Victoria's 150th Anniversary, Melbourne, 1985. Details
Sheehy, Tom, Mordialloc-Chelsea, Standard Newspapers of Cheltenham, Melbourne, 1970. Details