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(3087, 16 km NE, Banyule City)

First surveyed as part of the parish of Keelbundoora by Robert Hoddle in 1838, this district was included in the vast property of John Brown until the 1870s. The Grace Park section, purchased by Frederick Augustus Nell in 1877, passed in the early 20th century to Frank Watson who subdivided it for housing in 1924. To attract buyers to the estate, Watson and fellow landowners paid for the construction of a railway station, which was named in his honour. Although a post office was staffed by the stationmaster from 1934, it was not until the late 1940s that the affordable blocks at Watsonia began to attract residents. During World War II the Commonwealth Government purchased part of Ainsley Meares' estate to establish the Simpson Army Barracks. Extended by a further purchase in 1951, the barracks, used as a major Army signals centre, a district support centre and the enlistment and discharge centre for Victoria, were revamped to accommodate the Army and Navy Music School in the 1980s.

Jill Barnard