Balwyn North

Balwyn North, a residential suburb, is 10 km east of central Melbourne. It is separated from Balwyn by Belmore Road and extends northwards to the Eastern Freeway in the Kooning Creek valley.

In 1937 Balwyn North post office in Burke Road was opened and four years later it moved to the shops on the Doncaster Road tram line (1938) at Bulleen Road.

Balwyn North, larger in area than Balwyn and Deepdene together, is predominantly postwar in its residential growth. In 1941 Balwyn North was described as the next housing-site destination after the occupation of the Mont Albert Ridge in Balwyn was completed. The Doncaster Road ridge, Balwyn North, had a view of the Yarra Valley and the Koonung Creek and in the opalescent distance, the sprawling city. Balwyn North was a mixture of expensive suburban houses with beautiful gardens, and decayed dairy farms and orchards with tumbled down fences awaiting subdivision. The shops at Burke Road and Doncaster Roads are known as Dickens Corner, the site of G.J. Coles and Co's first Supermarket (1961), which traded under the S.E. Dickens grocery banner.

By the late 1960s Balwyn North had six State primary schools and two State high schools, and their locations indicate the directions of residential growth: Balwyn North primary (1950) (392 pupils, 2014), Greythorn primary (1953) (570 pupils, 2014), Boroondara Park primary (1954) (608 pupils, 2014), Belle Vue primary (1957) (195 pupils, 2014), Boroondarra North primary (1968, closed 1989), Balwyn high (1954) (2016 pupils, 2014), Greythorn high (1958, closed 1992).

There are three large reserves with ovals and other facilities. Greythorn named after Greythorn Road (so named because the first proposed name, Whitethorn, was too like Whitehorse), is a locality within Balwyn North. So too is Bellevue, near where Bulleen Road joins the Eastern Freeway as it skirts Balwyn North.

During the 1950s Balwyn North was Melbourne's archetypical up-and-coming middle class suburb with triple fronted residences, decorative brickwork and picture windows. The passage of years, maturing gardens and a patina of wear on the building finishes has made its middle classness less conspicuous.

Doncaster Road has three shopping areas, 'Dickens Corner', Balwyn North and Greythorn. The remaining two thirds of the suburb extending northwards to the Koonung Creek have small neighbourhood centres, Belle Vue's being the largest. The sub-regional and regional shopping centres are Whitehorse Road, Balwyn and Westfield Shoppingtown further east along Doncaster Road.

'Dickens Corner' at Doncaster and Burke Roads is the site of G.J. Coles and Coy's first Australian supermarket (1961), which originally traded under the S.E. Dickens grocery banner. It was probably an ideal choice of location for a car-based community with middle class tastes for trying the latest thing. Like most of Balwyn North's shops, the supermarket was of a modest scale fifty years later.

Until 2011 Balwyn North had over eight large churches; both Catholic churches had primary schools. They included Anglican (Balwyn North and Greythorn), Catholic (Balwyn North 1959, Greythorn 1961), Greek Orthodox (Balwyn North), Uniting (Balwyn North, originally Methodist 1941, merged with Greythorn in 2011), and Uniting (Greythorn 1965). The presence of a Greek Orthodox church reflects the 6.2% of North Balwyn residents who spoke Greek at home in 2011. The other churches probably have among their adherents some of the Chinese speaking residents who amounted to 15.4% of the population in 2011.

North Balwyn's census populations have been:

census date population
2001 19,140
2006 19,968
2011 20,137

Further Reading

Geoffrey Blainey, A history of Camberwell, Melbourne, 1980

Balwyn entry