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(3131, 19 km E, Whitehorse City, Manningham City)

A mainly residential suburb between Box Hill and Mitcham, Nunawading derives its name from a local Aboriginal word translated variously as 'meeting place', 'battlefield' and 'ceremonial ground'. The name first described the local parish in 1854, two years after the area was first surveyed, and in 1857 the Nunawading District Road Board was established. In 1872 the Board was replaced by the Shire of Nunawading, but the central area was officially known as Tunstall after the famous English pottery region, until the City of Nunawading was created in 1945.

European settlers venturing into the area in the 1840s found the terrain to be hilly, heavily timbered and much harder to settle than the flat, grassed plains on the west side of Port Phillip Bay. The first transport link between Melbourne and Gippsland was a dirt track that ran out past Ringwood, the forerunner of the Maroondah Highway. The construction of Dandenong Road further south made this route redundant but the Maroondah Highway, along with Canterbury and Burwood roads, became a major east-west thoroughfare, carrying increasingly large volumes of traffic as Melbourne's suburbs spread eastward after World War II.

From the 1850s woodcutters provided the wood needed for heating and construction throughout Melbourne, simultaneously clearing the land for agricultural use. Although the soil was mainly clay, it was taken up for orchards in subsequent decades. Other residents were more adventurous. In the 1860s Pierce Boardman built a eucalyptus distillery, and medico and politician Dr L.L. Smith unsuccessfully attempted to establish a vineyard and winery in present-day Vermont.

The heavy clay was also ideal for making bricks, tiles and other ceramics. The early small potters, brick and tile makers struggled to compete with the Australian Brick, Tile and Tesselated Tile Co. that began large-scale production in 1886. The Wunderlich Co. set up a tile production factory in Vermont in 1932, and small-scale industry, especially in the northern parts of the city, expanded in the postwar period while small traders and service providers of all kinds proliferated to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.

In 1856 Stephen Lanigan's Catholic chapel and school was the first school in the area, and most branches of Christianity established churches and schools in ensuing decades. Harkaway, the first state school, was built in the 1860s. The open spaces and semi-rural aspect of prewar Nunawading attracted institutions like Tally Ho Boys' Village (1900-86) and the Blackburn Open Air School (1915-64). The Salvation Army Inala home for the aged, established early in the 20th century, has been followed by many other aged care facilities.

Nunawading has a rich history of achievement and participation in the creative arts. Heidelberg School painters Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts settled for some time in Blackburn and Box Hill. In Mitcham, musical societies were established in the 1930s and a repertory group and film society in the 1950s. In the 1960s municipal libraries were opened and in the 1980s music festivals began and an arts centre was established.

Melbourne's postwar boom was an explosion in Nunawading. The population rose from 9000 in 1945 to 100 000 by the early 1970s, and decreased and aged in subsequent decades. Nunawading's commercial core is centred around the junction of Springvale Road and the Maroondah Highway. The area's increasingly multicultural character was exemplified by the conversion of a Forest Hill house into a Buddhist temple in the 1980s, and by the mid-1990s 29.5% of the suburb's population was overseas-born, compared to the metropolitan average of 31.1%. In 1994 Nunawading City, composed of present-day Blackburn, Forest Hill, Vermont and the northern parts of Burwood and Burwood East, was amalgamated with Box Hill to form the City of Whitehorse.

Chris Coney

Sydenham, Diane, Windows on Nunawading, Hargreen Publishing in conjunction with the City of Nunawading, Melbourne, 1990. Details