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(3171, 23 km SE, Greater Dandenong City)

Springvale became a city in 1961 as the district grew as part of the post-World War II industrial and population expansion. The 9760-hectare area it embraced was part of the Shire of Dandenong from 1873 to 1955 and included the townships of Springvale and Noble Park, the rural communities of Dingley and Keysborough, and the Carrum Swamp area.

It was first traversed in 1827 by William Hovell, who met with some of the local Boon wurrung people. Squatters took out pastoral leases in the 1840s and established cattle runs. Springvale takes its name from the hotel opened on Dandenong Road (Princes Highway) in about 1852. The red gum attracted timber-getters, who formed small communities as the squatting runs were sold in the early 1850s to land speculators, resident squatters, graziers and some small farmers. Over the next 20 years more land was divided and sold to farmers and market gardeners.

A Wesleyan church was first built in 1861 and a new one in 1877 for the Keysborough community. A Wesleyan church at Lightwood (Springvale) was built in 1863, and the Anglican Christ Church at Dingley in 1873. The Department of Education built a school for the Keysborough community in 1874, and then one for the children of Springvale farmers in 1875.

In 1879 the railway line between Melbourne and Sale was constructed through the area but was little used until the land boom, when the 'New Spring Vale Township' was laid out on a scrubby paddock in 1886 beside the line and near the 'station'. With a store, a church and a racecourse established nearby, the focus of Springvale shifted from the houses around the hotel to this more southern subdivision, despite the stagnation effected by the 1890s depression.

In 1879 the Carrum Swamp was opened to selectors, who battled flooding and then sold the land in allotments to speculators as the train line to Frankston was completed in the 1880s. The early part of the 20th century saw the slow development of the Springvale township and the establishment of Noble Park as a town. In 1902 the Necropolis was opened on Dandenong Road (Princes Highway), and a railway loop line to carry the coffins branched from the line at Springvale into the cemetery in 1904.

There was a brief surge in industrial development at Springvale during the 1920s with the advent of the engineering plant of Kelly & Lewis and the Rocla Concrete Construction Works. Flower-growing and poultry-farming flourished west and south of Springvale and at Noble Park. At Dingley the Braeside horse stud and stables developed, and the Gartside vegetable-canning factory helped local vegetable-growers. Electrification and the provision of water encouraged the establishment of a number of public buildings.

The 1930s depression stopped development, and unemployment was rife, although local farmers had a degree of self-sufficiency. World War II brought work for market gardeners and at the Kelly & Lewis foundry. After the war, industry sought to expand, and the small sandpits at Dingley were extended to meet the demand for concrete sand. The large population influx was fed by immigration and returned armed forces personnel. The necessary administration arising from new subdivisions and shopping centres led to the district's severance from the Dandenong Shire in 1955 to become the Shire of Springvale and Noble Park, after which the population continued to grow rapidly, quadrupling by 1980. While Springvale and Noble Park housing merged along the railway line to Dandenong, the rural areas of Dingley, Springvale South and the north of Keysborough became residential areas.

The Commonwealth Government Enterprise migrant centre at Springvale, opened in 1970, housed many nationalities, an estimated three-quarters moving out to live nearby. In the municipal reconfiguration of the early 1990s, the City of Springvale was divided between Greater Dandenong City and Kingston City. The 2001 census showed overseas-born residents of the City of Greater Dandenong comprised 50.8% of the city's population. The Vietnamese-born made up 8.4%, the largest group.

Gillian Hibbins

Hibbins, G.M., A history of the City of Springvale, Lothian, Melbourne, 1984. Details