Tooronga is a residential locality 8 km south-east of Melbourne situated on both sides of the Gardiners Creek valley in Hawthorn and Malvern. It was named after a two-storeyed house built by a Colonel Ward. According to Bunce's Language of the Aborigines of the Colony of Victoria (1859), Tooronga is an Aboriginal word meaning modern or new.

Below the Tooronga residence there were kitchen gardens and a horse paddock. In 1890 the Tooronga railway station was opened, connecting the area to Melbourne, and the Tooronga Station Estate was released. Tram services went around rather than through Tooronga, and the Tooronga Heights Estate (1912) ushered in more suburbanisation. Despite the good standard of housing, Tooronga had a brickworks, gasometers and a drive-in theatre (1957) around the intersection of Tooronga and Toorak Roads. Separating the gasometers from the other industries is a small residential area in which the artist Fred Williams (1927-82) lived.

In 1965 the south-east corner was taken for a drive-in shopping centre. The drive-in theatre was demolished in 1987, the site rezoned from extractive industry, and became Coles Myer's national headquarters. The gasometers have been replaced by natural gas facilities. In 1985 the brickworks site was amalgamated with the shopping centre comprising 10.6 ha, but 20 years passed before a developer got planning approval for redevelopment. A mixed retail/high-rise residential project emerged, with the shops completed by 2010 and 297 apartments completed by 2012. The behemoth project goes by the quaint name Tooronga Village.

A short distance northwards in Tooronga Road Frederick Cato of Moran and Cato, chain grocers, once occupied the 20-roomed ‘Kawarau’ (1901). It was acquired in 1979 by Stephanie Alexander and made into one of Melbourne's premier restaurants. Behind Kawarau is Bialik College (1942), established by the Jewish Community.

Tooronga Park lies along the Gardiners Creek valley. It has an oval on its surface and the South Eastern Arterial overhead.

Further Reading

Victoria Peel et al, A history of Hawthorn, Melbourne University Press in association with the City of Hawthorn, 1993