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Melbourne, Victoria
Location 10 km from Melbourne
LGA(s) Boroondara
LGA ward Lynden
State electorate(s) Burwood
Federal Division(s) Kooyong

Hartwell is a locality in central Boroondara. It is not a gazetted suburb in its own right and is mostly located in Camberwell with some areas falling within the boundaries of Burwood. Hartwell is centred on its shopping precinct along Toorak Road and contains several areas of heritage buildings.


Early European settlement

'Hartwell' was first used as a term to describe the area in a land sales advertisement published in May 1853. The name has unknown provenance and has no clearly defined geographic area. Several documents incorrectly cite that a 'Hartwell House' was constructed in 1853 from which the precinct obtained its name. However, there is no historical evidence to support this claim. The name of this building did not come into use until the 1870s at the earliest.[1]

John and Naomi Hill were among the first European settlers in the area. Following the 1853 land sales, other settlers followed suit, including George Downing and Simon Staughton. This precipitated the first wave of movement to the area, which was not as quick to be developed as some other parts of Boroondara such as Camberwell or Hawthorn. Makeshift houses were built and more land clearing was cleared to make way for cattle and sheep farms.[1]

The first concentrated settlement formed near where present-day Eddy Street and Smith Road meet Camberwell Road. A general store, school and post office opened in this location in the mid-1850s. This was followed by the opening of the Tyrone Hotel at the corner of present-day Toorak and Camberwell Roads, and the conversion of James Irwin's house into the Irwin Hotel at the corner of Wattle Valley Road and Toorak Road. Hartwell soon became a relatively important stopping point along what was to become one of the main roads leading from Melbourne to Gippsland and the newly-discovered goldfields.[1]

By 1865, Hartwell boasted its own church, school two hotels, post office, wine hall and general store. Despite its small population of 175 at this time,[1] it was able to support this wide variety of services on account of through traffic.

1870s - 1900s

Hartwell remained an area primarily made up of agricultural production. Despite the introduction of the phylloxera pest that destroyed almost all of the vineyards in Boroondara, dairy, cattle and other farming activities continued well into the 1920s.[1]

The town saw a period of rapid growth during the economic boom driven by land speculation during the 1880s. Although the school had been closed and the church dismantled, significant economic and development activity ensued following the extension of the railway from Hawthorn to Lilydale in 1882. Hartwell's population increased fourfold between 1880 and 1890.[1] A daily coach service operated from Camberwell to Hartwell, but this was slow and presented the only transport connection to the rest of Boroondara, so the opening of a new railway station at Camberwell made Hartwell much more easily accessible.[1] The opening of the highly-speculative Outer Circle Railway dramatically increased property values along its route through Hartwell and Burwood, but the opening of Hartwell Railway Station (present-day Burwood Station) on 30 May 1890 heralded the beginning of the end of these boom times.[1]

By 1892, the depression had well and truly hit. Land sales did not recover in Hartwell until well after the First World War.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Wehner, Volkhard. Old Hartwell - the life and times of the village that lost its name. 2012: Glen Iris.