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Sunday, December 09, 2018

The Heatherleigh Farm - Tunstall - A Pictorial History

Heatherleigh Homestead (1919


About 130 years ago, the south-west cnr of Springvale and Canterbury Rds was occupied by the farming property known as "Heatherleigh".

It comprised some 25 acres (about 10 hectares) of undulating land, about 18 km east of the Melbourne CBD, in the semi-rural area of Tunstall, which included a beautiful single storey villa, with a creek running nearby. 

The Villa had 11 rooms; various outbuildings included stables, a coach house, sheds for agricultural implements, farm equipment, drays, sulkies, bicycles and golfing gear. Landscaped gardens, flower areas, and vegetable plots surrounded the villa.  

This article traces the establishment, history, evolution and ultimate closure of the farm, spanning the yeas from 1894 to 1963 


Actual date of the villa construction is not known, believed to be between 1892 and 1894 

The first event researched from newspapers of the time (via NLA/Trove) was a birth notice.

 A furniture auction took place on site on July 20

Property ownership changed hands on November 24

1915 to 1918
Strawberry Fetes and Garden Parties were held, generally in the November-December period. This is an account of the event held on 30 Nov 1918, as published in the Camberwell and Hawthorn Advertiser.
"A very successful garden fete in aid of the Tunstall and Forest Hill Red Cross society was held on Saturday afternoon, November 30, at 'Heatherleigh,' Tunstall,' the residence of Mr. H. Broadhurst, kindly lent for the occasion. The fete was opened at three o'clock by Sir Robert Best, M.H.R., who made a very impressive speech and spoke of the different stages of the war through the present year ; also the need to still carry on the Red Cross work which is urgently needed. 

Business was exceedingly brisk, the weather perfect, and the attendance good. Mrs. Fred Drake, of Mitcham, carried off the gold ring for the best fruit cake ; Miss McCullough, of Malvern the silver muff chain for the best sponge sandwich ; Mrs. Fred Course carried off second prize in both cases ; Mrs. Henderson, pastry ; and Mrs. Regan, scones. The stallholders were unanimous in their work and carried out everything in first-class style. 

The Salvation Army boys' band from Box Hill rendered selections very creditably, and were quite an asset to the afternoon. The Blackburn Boy Scouts guarded the gates. The takings amounted to £91/4/2"

It is not known if these social functions continued  in  later years, as the Advertiser was not published after 1918 

The property ownership again changed hands on July 6, at an on-site public auction

The nine hole Tunstall Public Golf Course opened on the property.

Golf tournaments attracted many players, the course was then known as the Heatherleigh Golf Course

On December 6 1941, an advertisement for the sale of a used car from the property appeared in the Melbourne Argus.

Early 1940s
The golf course appears to have  been abandoned, and the land sold for residential development. No further media reports could be found about events at Heatherleigh.

An aerial photo of the land showed that the villa, surrounding hedges, driveways, fences  and outbuildings were still intact. However, ownership could not be determined.

An image (1955) was discovered at the NLA archives showing a view looking west from near the NW corner of Canterbury and Springvale Rds (see below). Tall mature trees are visible along the southern fence line, marking the boundary of the present-day Forest Hill Reserve. The quaint Forest Hill Hall, managed by Whitehorse Council,  now stands on the SE cnr of the intersection.
Canterbury Rd looking west from Springvale Rd (1955) (NLA)
The property appears on aerial photo maps until 1960, when the land was subdivided for residential development and the property demolished.The modern streets, including Vista Court, Thornhill Drive and Mutual Court were constructed between 1961 and 1963.

The Clarion on Canterbury Hotel now stands on the land, built in 1963.

The drain which now runs through the Forest Hill Reserve was the original creek and is now barrel-drained between Springvale Rd and Canterbury Rd where it reappears in the Glen Valley Retarding Basin


Most of the sepia images were sourced to the National Library of Australia, from the "Broadhurst Collection". based on scanned copies of original photos in an original album held in the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and donated by the Broadhurst Family.

There are several hundred images from the album available on line from the NLA, most show Broadhurst family members resident at the farm in the 1918-1919 era. 

Extensive research was  made of digitized newspapers via Trove, which was complicated by the existence of other "Heatherleigh" properties in Hamliton, Cranbourne, and Eastmalvern,

No physical trace survives of artifacts or structures which formed part of the property - all were demolished and bulldozed in 1962 when the area was being laid out for housing construction in the emerging new suburb of Forest Hill

This Pictorial Heritage article may be useful for anyone wishing to gain an appreciation of life on a semi-rural farm in what became a Melbourne suburb, and of the significance of the farm in contributing to the early history of what is now part of the Whitehorse Council area.

This link will take you to the original photo-album.

I hope they liked the strawberries! 

(Published December  9, 2018)

Family Group in front garden (1919)
Springvale Rd looking south from near Canterbury Rd (1919)

Front garden (1919)

Kitchen garden (1919)
Aerial photo of property and surrounding area (1945) North at top. (Whitehorse Digital Maps)
Strawberry Fete November 1918

Strawberry Fete - Tents and Marquees - November 1918

Main driveway (1919)

Wildflowers (1919)

Front Lawn (1919)
Front Garden (1919)
Springvale Rd looking south from Canterbury Rd (1919)
Springvale Rd looking south at creek crossing (1919)

Springvale Rd looking south near creek crossing (1919)

Aerial view of farm buildings in 1945 (Whitehorse digital maps)

Robert Broadhurst (1919)

Clarion Hotel on Canterbury 2018 (Google)

Boundaries of the farm in 1945 (Whitehorse digital maps)


This is a timber building of historical significance, on the SE corner of Canterbury and Springvale Rds. It was erected around 1952-1954 and was one of the first structures in the district. It's actually within the Forest Hill Reserve, and managed by Whitehorse Council. Available for hire for meetings, schools, etc, community events, but not for private functions. Dances are held there regularly. Images are. 2018 (street level), aerial view 1955, aerial view 2018


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