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Park Orchards

History

Pre-colonisation, the Wurundjeri people cared for the land.
In 1902, prominent Victorian orchardist Tom Petty, purchased 559 acres of land north of the Mitcham district, and converted it to 80 orchard blocks in an ambitious project.
In 1925, South Melbourne timber merchants Australis Sharp and John Taylor purchased Petty’s land and launched the Park Orchards Country Club Estate. They had the subdivisions designed by Saxil Tuxen and Miller. Tuxen had previously worked with Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin on the Ranelagh Estate in Mt Eliza which Sharp and Taylor had owned, and Park Orchards was designed around a similar ‘Country Club’ organisation that had become popular during the 1920s in the US. The circular street layout is clearly inspired by Mahony-Griffin style.
The Clubhouse, named “The Chalet”, (c.1929) was built in a Spanish Mission style, featuring a blackwood panelled interior, with a ballroom and billiard rooms. The Estate failed to attracts buyers during the 1930s Depression and Sharp and Taylor cleared much of the land and planted plant pine trees (many which still remain) to provide for their timber yards.
In 1944 the Australian Army requisitioned The Chalet and the football ground, and set up The School For Eastern Interpreters for Z Special Unit and a training facility for the Australian Special Wireless Group during World War II. 400 personnel were stationed there, living in tents on the football ground, and they constructed the first water mains and connected to the electrical grid.[18]

The Chalet in 1943 when being used by the Australian Army.
Domeney Reserve (behind the Chalet) in 1943 when being used by the Australian Army.
In late 1946 Sharp & Taylor sold the Estate at auction to Edments Ltd, owners of a department store in Melbourne, with reported plans to develop part of it into a holiday resort for their staff. They had a 9-hole golf course and cricket ground constructed in the 1950s.
By the late 1950s the Post-War Migration boom saw an increase in subdivisions being developed. Most of the blocks were sold by 1960. The Park Orchards Post Office opened on 1 November 1959, the Primary School opened on 14 March 1961. The final blocks sold in the early 1990s.
The Chalet was the location of the first Catholic mass in Park Orchards in 1965. From the 1970s it was used as Restaurant and Reception Centre, and hosted the wedding of Mick Gatto in 1978.In 1994 the exterior was Heritage listed by the local council. The Chalet was sold in 2007, the new owners shut it down and submitted an application to build an Aged Care facility. The local council rejected the application. In 2009, the local community failed in an attempt to raise $1.5m to purchase the property with the aim of turning it into a community centre. In 2010 VCAT determined, contrary to the local council ruling, that a planning permit should be issued, albeit with a requirement for reticulated sewerage services to be established. Later in 2010 the Park Orchards Ratepayers Association submitted both the Chalet and original Estate area to be registered as places of significance by the Heritage Council, but the application was rejected as not meeting the minimum criteria. As of 2015 the Chalet remains unused and neglected of maintenance.

Park Orchards

Quick Facts

Postcode

3114

Council

Manningham