Which Western Melbourne suburb was named after a prestigious hunting club? The historically-diverse Deer Park.
Search through Melbourne newspapers from the 1880s and you might be surprised to know that once upon a time, the now thriving suburb of Deer Park was called Kororoit Creek. After the establishment of the Melbourne Hunt Club – and their “proverbial” hospitality, according to The Argus – the suburb was renamed in 1889, and the fast-growing area now sits as a conduit between inner Melbourne and western Victoria, and as a destination in its own right.
These days, the history of the Melbourne Hunt Club can be explored in the Hunt Club Community Arts Centre. From the 1880s until 1911 it remained the MHC’s base for local deer hunts before it played a part in another of the suburb’s historically significant makeovers. Explosives had been manufactured in Deer Park since the early days of the Gold Rush, and throughout much of the 20th century the building was used for workers housing and research. These days it houses art exhibitions and is a brilliant example of the area’s 19th- century architecture.
Another intriguing Deer Park site for history buffs is the Black Powder Mill, on Grassy Point Road alongside Kororoit Creek. Listed on the Victorian Heritage Registry, it was one of 700 buildings that made up the Albion Explosives Factory, which provided munitions for World War II. It is the only surviving gunpowder manufacturing facility on its original site in Australia and one of the very few 20th century gunpowder manufacturing plants in the world. An excellent history of the site – created by two local students in 2005 using a fantastic colour palette – can be found here.
For something a bit more contemporary (and a lot tastier!), punctuate your time in Deer Park at Latin Foods and Wines. Think Brazilian BBQ, Argentinian wine and empanadas and a spot of live music, and you’ve got yourself an afternoon.
Being located in the outer suburbs means there are plenty of green spaces in Deer Park to enjoy. Take your time inhaling the fresh air along the tree-lined banks of Kororoit Creek Trail, and take your time to enjoy the Isabella Williams Memorial Reserve. Featuring a ‘volcano’ with climbing walls and four slides, it has been designed to represent Victoria’s volcanic western plains, and has been enthralling children of all ages since 2011.
As you follow the trail through the suburb, keep an ear out for two local frog species. While many Melburnians would be familiar with the common eastern froglet, the growling grass frog is much harder to spy, and is listed as threatened in Victoria. Still, if you keep your eyes peeled you may see this little creature hopping and singing by the banks of the Kororoit.
And for a little dose of retail therapy, follow the locals to Brimbank Shopping Centre. From spa and pampering options to homewares and fashion, it’s a great place to escape the weather and treat yourself to something nice.