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The area was originally occupied by the Wurundjeri, Indigenous Australians of the Kulin nation, who spoke variations of the Woiwurrung language group. After European settlement, the area was used for agriculture, predominantly orchards. A small settlement was established in the 1860s, known as Waldau, which was home to many German settlers, who planted the large areas of pine trees that still exist today. German Lane was the original name for George Street, and Bismarck Street the original name for Victoria Street. The names were replaced during the First World War and the present names adopted.
The Post Office opened on 8 August 1887. A Tunstall Square office was open from 1965 until 1990.
Like much of the City of Manningham, Doncaster East was predominantly covered in fruit orchards for some time before subdivision began and it became a contiguous part of Melbourne. Housing estates began to replace orchards in the 1960s, generally along Doncaster Road, in the southern half of the suburb. The north half of the suburb was developed through the 1970s and 1980s, with the last orchard being removed in the 1990s. As the young parents who moved into these estates now retire and move away, many houses from the 60s and 70s are being converted into units. Today land prices continue to rise and it is not uncommon to see medium density residential apartments/units under construction somewhere at any time of the year.