Sydenham is a residential suburb 22 km north-west of central Melbourne.

The land is mostly a grassed basalt plain. The railway line (1859) to Sunbury passes through Sydenham. A station was provided where the line crossed Keilor Road, and was known by that name until renamed Sydenham in 1887. The origin of the name is apparently unrecorded. The area came under a closer settlement scheme in 1903, and after considerable local agitation a primary school was opened in 1911.

Until the 1980s Sydenham was a rural area with a population of no more than 200 people. Local bluestone provided quarrying, and the village had two stores, a hall and a chaff cutting mill. There was a progress association and sporting clubs. Wheat, oats, barley and hay were grown along with sheep and cattle grazing and some poultry farmers. To the north-east was the Calder Highway and Jacksons Creek with the volcanic Organ Pipes rock formation in its eastern bank.

One of the first forms of postwar urbanisation at Sydenham was the Calder Raceway (1962), later enlarged as the Calder Park Thunderdome (1987). By the mid-1990s the residential settlement of Sydenham was substantially laid out. A Sydenham South primary school, Catholic Regional College (1982) and a Catholic primary school (1996) opened. The later residential area to the west was named Hillside.

The area to the east of Sydenham is Taylors Lakes and Calder Park. Shopping is available at the Watergardens drive-in centre east of the railway. The Watergardens railway station (2002) replaced the Sydenham station which was about 600 m northwards.

Most of old Sydenham has gone: the school and the hall in Keilor Road were demolished and the Sydenham reserve is under bulky goods stores. Newcomers include Macedonian Orthodox churches, a Jehovah’s Witness church, the Sydenham campus of the State Copperfield College, four kindergartens, and the Sydenham library in the Watergardens shopping centre, Taylors Lakes.

Sydenham’s census populations have been:

census date population
1891 58
1921 88
1933 160
1966 136
2001 7554
2006 9643
2011 10,323

Sydenham is ethnically diverse with residents from southern Europe, eastern Europe, India and the Middle East.

The population at the 2011 census had a median age of 31 (Australia, 37 years).

Further Reading

Alie Missen, Sydenham memorial moments: a discovery tour of local places and people, Prahran, 2008