The Mont Albert District - a Pictorial History 1830 to 2013

1882 - Phantom Railways to Doncaster

Indigenous Heritage
Geology and Topography
Vegetation and Fauna
Climate and Hydrology
1840s to 1870s
1850s - Parish of Nunawading
1852 - Whitehorse Inn
1861 - Postal Services
1880s - Electricity Supply
1880s to 1920s
1882 - Phantom Railways to Doncaster
1883 - Residential Heritage Precinct
1884 - Broughton Park subdivsion
1884 - Brickworks
1885 - Surrey Hills district - map
1888 - Football Clubs
1889 - Gas Supply and Gasworks
1889 - Doncaster Electric Tramway and Tower
1890 - Mont Albert Railway Station
1892 - Surrey Hills Golf Club
1892 - Water Supply, Reservoirs and Sewerage
1899 - Telephone Services
1905 - The Surrey Dive
1907 - Scouts and Guides
1912 - Mont Albert Village Shopping Precinct
1914 - Mont Albert Progress Association
1916 - Californian Bungalows
1917 - Schools
1917 - Wattle Park
1924 - Early Shortwave Broadcasting from the Surrey Hills district
1924 - Black's Estate
1925 - Bus Services
1929 - Tramways
1930 - Cricket Clubs in Mont Albert
1930s - Balwyn - Beckett Park Bonfires and Wildlife Sanctuary
1948 - Grange Tennis Courts
1957 - Pioneer Park
1961 - Surrey Hills Communications Tower
1981 - Box Hill Miniature Railway
Koonung Creek Parklands
Heritage Notes
Mont Albert Road - Early History
Mont Albert Rd - the East End
Elgar Rd - north and south of Mont Albert Rd
Mont Albert Rd - View St to Elgar Rd
Bushland Reserves
Service Associations
Sporting Clubs
Box Hill Institute of TAFE
Walking Trails
The Author's Websites
References and Acknowledgements

1882 - painting of the Train!

1882 - this is an artist's impression of the proposed railway, steaming down the hill from Doncaster to Canterbury! It's from a poster produced for land sales in the area formerly known as Koonung Hill. Note the Doncaster Tower at top right, and small silos below the orchard.

1901 - Kew station

At the time of writing, public debate rages as to the feasibility of constructing a rail link to Doncaster, and several proposals have been advanced. 


It is not commonly known, but the idea of a Doncaster rail link from central Melbourne was first proposed in 1882, in a submission to the State Government from concerned citizens in the developing Doncaster and nearby districts.


The proposal was for a branch line to be built from the Canterbury station (opened in December 1882), which would run through the embryo suburbs of Balwyn and Mont Albert, to the terminus next to the Shire Hall, near present-day Westfield Shoppingtown on Doncaster Hill.


The proposal was vigorously supported by the Balwyn Railway League, who had agitated for the new line to be included in the Victorian Railways Bills of the time.


The proposed route was officially surveyed and appears on various maps published by estate agents of land sales and auctions, and was used as a marketing tool for potential buyers if property along its length.


The route included stations built on the NW corner of Whitehorse and Union Rds, and at the cnr of Belmore and Elgar Rds, carving a swathe through present-day Mont Albert.


In those days there was minimal residential development along the route, which crossed open country and woodland. The few landowners who would be affected had pledged financial support for the project


As Governments tend to do, the proposal languished.



1880s - proposed route from Canterbury (map by the author)

1880s - proposed route from Kew, with planned stations

1920s - proposed route from Kew

1880 - proposed modified route from Kew

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1880 - Canterbury station


The Canterbury proposal attracted community criticism, resulting in a new alternative route for the line to be built as an extension of the Kew Railway, which would follow Doncaster Rd. This would have required a large tunnel to be built at Kew station. This route was to continue past Doncaster and terminate at East Doncaster, with a branch line to Templestowe, starting at Bulleen Rd.



Interestingly, another alternative route had been proposed, as a Branch line from Glenferrie Station, but was rejected due to the hilly terrain.


Yet another proposal was mooted, this time from Collingwood station, through the Kew Mental Hospital grounds and a new station would be built known as Willsmere, near the Yarra River.


This Collingwood proposal remained active until 1902 when it was rejected by the Govt.



A proposal for a Branch line from Box Hill station had been put forward, which would follow part of the alignment of the earlier Electric tram which had operated between 1889 and 1895 from Box Hill to Doncaster. This proposal was never examined in detail.


The idea of a railway to Warrandyte had also appeared, as an extension of the Doncaster/E. Doncaster route



By this time, the Canterbury route had been discarded, and a further new route had been advocated. This was a variation of the earlier Kew extension, and would follow the abandoned Outer Circle Railway, (1891-1942) running about one mile north of Doncaster Rd, to the terminus at Doncaster Hill. The earlier suggestions for a branch line to Templestowe and an extension to East Doncaster were not part of this new plan.


The stations to be built were to be at:


1.     Kew

2.     East Kew (High St)

3.     Belmore and Normanby Rds

4.     Balwyn and Doncaster Rds

5.     Doncaster and Greythorne Rds

6.     Doncaster Rd and Golf Links

7.     Shire Hall at Doncaster



The plot thickens! Yet another route was advocated, this time from Heidelberg Station over largely undeveloped land. This proposal continued to receive public support up to about 1946 when it vanished.


The Land reserved for a rail line in Doncaster and Templestowe from Kew was sold off for residential development in the 1980s.


Due to the severe economic crisis (Depression), the Government did not proceed with any investment into construction of a Doncaster railway 


In the 1880s, citizens had formed a number of public bodies, (“Leagues”), which met regularly to discuss and submit transport proposals to the Government.


In the eastern districts of Melbourne, these groups included:


Warrandyte Railway League (1885)

Kew Railway Extension League (1889)

Balwyn Railway League (1902)


Parliamentary Committees examined many of the proposals emerging from the Railway Leagues, and the Government produced annual Railway Bills, endorsed by the State Parliament. Then, as of now, cash was in shirt supply!


Present Day

Detailed discussion about present-day plans and proposals is outside the scope of this Heritage Study, but some background information follows, of general interest:



A railway to Doncaster (via Fitzroy, Eastern Freeway and Bulleen) was part of

a rail network development proposed in the 1969 Melbourne Metropolitan

Transport Plan.

The 1969 Plan proposed that a rail line be built from Victoria Park Station via

the Eastern Freeway to Alfreda Avenue, and then north east to a terminus

near the corner of Blackburn Road and King Streets.


Land was reserved along the Eastern Freeway, and it was acknowledged in the Eastern Freeway Lands Act 1971


In lieu of a rail service, Doncaster has recently been serviced with direct,

frequent bus routes to the city along the Eastern Freeway:


Doncaster area bus services underwent a $40m capital upgrade and

$30 million per annum operational expenditure, as part of the Doncaster Area

Rapid Transport (DART) project.

The DART project involved the creation of four SmartBus routes providing

greater frequency and extended hours of operation. DART currently carries

approximately 8,500 passengers per day.


2012 Doncaster Rail Study

Readers may wish to view the official report, with final options, of the Doncaster Rail Study 2012


1918 - Box Hill station

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