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(3166, 15 km SE, Monash City)

When amalgamated at the end of 1994 into Monash, with a small section going to Kingston City, the City of Oakleigh comprised 3084 ha with about 55 000 residents. Its genesis was a square mile (262.4 ha) village reserve surveyed in August 1850 at the South Yarra Pound on Scotchman's Creek, a tributary of Gardiners Creek, 10 miles (16 km) south-east of Melbourne. William Maitland Atkinson, appointed first poundkeeper on 30 July 1842, chose the pound site which was excised from John McMillan's cattle run first licensed in 1840. It was on a track to 'Western Port' known locally as No Good Damper Road, the run and inn near the present Springvale six-way junction where Dandenong and Centre roads converge.

The main Dandenong Road was defined to run through the Oakleigh village reserve before the area was incorporated into the Mulgrave land parish in March 1853. The name of Oakleigh probably derives from early settler connections with Oakleigh Park in Hertfordshire, now north London. Warrigal Road on the western boundary was originally McMillan Street. With Ferntree Gully and Wellington roads as major routes to the Dandenong Ranges branching off near Oakleigh, the township grew as a main road staging post. From 1857 it was headquarters for the road district, which became Oakleigh and Mulgrave Shire in December 1871. The Gippsland railway, constructed westwards from Sale to reach Oakleigh in 1877, parallels the main road 1.5 km to the south. The link with Melbourne's Princes Bridge station, completed in April 1879, prompted 1880s subdivisions which boosted the population sufficiently for a borough of Oakleigh to sever from the shire in March 1891. Six years later Oakleigh was removed from the shire's conjoint title. The town's commercial centre shifted south towards the station complex. Two short-lived lines, the private Rosstown (Carnegie) Junction Railway (1883) and the Outer Circle (1890) branched from the Gippsland line at what became Hughesdale in the area annexed from Caulfield in April 1913. Until 1922 a railways workshop provided local employment. Oakleigh-born soldier and aviator E.A. Mustar (Mustard) (1893-1971) began his career with the railways engineering division in 1911.

Electrification of the rail line in 1922 extended suburban development. Villa estates, mostly timber, reached out along the railway from Hughesdale to Clayton and Westall. The population doubled to 12 000 between 1921 and 1933 enabling an upgrade in municipal status to a town in 1924 and a city on 2 August 1927. Annexations from Mulgrave Shire in 1948 and again in 1959, together with sections from Moorabbin and Springvale enlarged the city's area. From 1945 to 1961 the population trebled to 48 000, thereafter peaking at 57 284 in 1971 when 30% were born outside Australia. Immigrants were drawn to the area by migrant hostel accommodation at Holmesglen (from 1954) and then Westall (1970), and by new industry employment. This move was reflected by 1974 in the 24 nationalities among students at Amstel (North Clayton) primary school, opened in 1958. People from Britain and Italy predominated in the 1950s, with the Greek component then rising significantly to be the largest migrant group in 1981. From the 1980s, Greek-born people were outnumbered by those from Asia, predominantly Vietnamese.

Until the 1950s the dominant industries were small farms and market gardens, together with brickmaking based on Scotchman's Creek clay pits. They were superseded by manufacturing and sand extraction in the south-east. Disused clay pits became interim rubbish tips in the 1970s before conversion to reserves. Brickmakers Park is an extension of an older creekside sports and recreation reserve, now included in the Scotchmans Creek Linear Park. A municipal nine-hole golf course lies along the creek's north side.

From 1927 to 1994 the football club, based at the recreation reserve on Warrigal Road, was a member of the Victorian Football Association. The contiguous Metropolitan (1908) and Huntingdale (1941) golf courses, together with Spring Valley (1948) in south-east Clayton, were established on the sand belt stretching into Moorabbin. Oakleigh General Cemetery, established 1859 and closed for burials in 1960, is now a Pioneer Memorial Park. There is also a public memorial to Father Nicholas Moutafis, Oakleigh's Greek Orthodox pastor from 1964 to 2001.

The Victorian Legislative Assembly seat of Oakleigh, even with boundary changes, has been centred on the municipality since 1927. Originally a stronghold of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), it has returned maverick conservatives as well as mainstream members of both the ALP and the Liberal Party.

Susan Priestley

Keeley, May, One hundred good years: A story of Oakleigh Council, Oakleigh and District Historical Society, Melbourne, 1991. Details
Oakleigh and District Historical Society, Oakleigh's golden days, Melbourne, 1988. Details