Evolution of the City of Glen Eira

European settlement of the area dates from the 1840s, when the land was swampy and used mainly for farming in the north and market gardening in the south. In the mid 1800s, dirt tracks wound through the swamps and sandy heaths of the district. They were constantly damaged by the wheels of farmers’ carts, creating dangerous holes and making access difficult. A governing body was needed to ensure that roads were maintained and passable. Residents lobbied for a roads district to be proclaimed, and so was born local representation in the local community, a long and proud tradition that spans more than 150 years.

The Victorian Parliament passed an act in 1853 to give locally elected people the authority to extract rates from residents in order to finance road construction. This led to the establishment of District Road Boards. The Boards were responsible for constructing and maintaining local roads and bridges, and introducing and managing local road tolls and rates. The District Road Boards were the precursors of today’s Victorian local councils.

The Caulfield District Road Board was proclaimed in 1857 while the Moorabbin District Road Board was established in 1862. These municipal milestones signaled the beginning of local government in the area and provide the solid foundation for the successful management of the municipality of Glen Eira today.

Glen Eira today

Today, the City of Glen Eira is an established area. Council is tackling the issue of maintaining infrastructure and has an extended program of works on our roads, drains and footpaths.

Protecting public health has always been a key part of Council’s activities. A clean water supply and sanitary removal of sewage was critical in the 1800s because of outbreaks of disease, such as typhoid, diphtheria and scarlet fever.

Council has long had a role in controlling the impact of animals on our health and well-being. In the late 19th century, the Caulfield District Road Board/Shire was paying a reward for the heads of rats. Dog registration had been around since 1865.

Social caring and support roles have continued to grow, from maternal and child health centres, (the first opened around 1924) to providing work for the unemployed during the Depression, digging trenches in Caulfield Park during World War II, setting up welfare funds and operating Meals on Wheels from 1957.

Immunisation services have been provided since the 1800s. Council libraries began in the municipality with the Bentleigh Library in July 1961 and the Caulfield service followed in 1963.

Providing public open spaces has also been a long tradition. Paddy’s Swamp (now Caulfield Park) was set aside as a reserve in the 1880s. Many other sites once used as tips were turned into parks and gardens; some parks were provided partly to cater for the large crowds at municipal band performances. As involvement in sport developed, so did the reserves’ facilities.

Expanding the public open space network and providing high quality recreational facilities is a high priority for Council which has recently successfully advocated to the State Government for the transfer of the disused reservoir site in Booran Road, Glen Huntly to be opened up for recreational use by the community. The new Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC) in Bentleigh East  provides the community with state of the art aquatic, fitness, sports, rehabilitation, wellness, café and occasional care facilities. This is the single largest capital works project undertaken by Council in its history.

Glen Eira — Mayors [PDF 55Kb] 

City of Glen Eira Time Line

1857       The Caulfield Road District
1862       The Moorabbin Road District
1871       Shire of Caulfield
1871       Shire of Moorabbin
1901       The Borough of Caulfield (April)
1901       The Town of Caulfield (September)
1913       City of Caulfield
1934       City of Moorabbin
1994       City of Glen Eira (Resulting from the amalgamation of the City of Caulfield and the northern section of the City of Moorabbin)
       First Glen Eira City Council Election

History information sheet [PDF 532Kb]


Caulfield District Roads Board, Meeting Minutes 1857-1860
City of Caulfield, The Caulfield Arts Complex, May 1987
Cribbin, J., MOORABBIN A Pictorial History 1862-1994, City of Kingston, 1995
Murray P.R., and Wells J. C., From sand, swamp and heath...A HISTORY OF CAULFIELD, City of Caulfield, 1980
Solomon, G., Caulfield's Heritage, City of Caulfield, 1989, Vols 1-4Victorian Government Gazettes 1857-1994
Ward, A., City of Glen Eira Heritage Management Plan, Glen Eira City Council, September 1996, Vols 1-4
Ward, A., Glen Eira Heritage Management Plan, Glen Eira City Council, 2000