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Culture and heritage

Jells Park

Jells Park is named after one of the earliest settlers Joseph Jell who grazed cattle in the mid to late 1800s. The park has an interesting history and was utilised as a piggery in the late 1930s to the 1960s and even a storage area for the American Army during the Second World War.

The area was originally the homelands of the Woiworrung (Wurundjeri) and Boonerwrung Aboriginal tribes who lived on the land for over 30,000 years prior to European settlement.

Jells Park was officially opened in April 1976 and is now one of the most popular parks in Melbourne catering for over 1,000,000 visitors each year.

Nortons Park

Nortons Park The area of the present Nortons Park was predominantly orchard country. It was first selected by Thomas Blood in 1868, and stayed in his family until 1936. The park was named after the Norton family who owned land in the area for 50 years from the early 1900s. The land served as a market garden and an apple and pear orchard and at one stage was used as a water reserve for drovers moving their stock through the country.

The park was opened in 1981 and covers approximately 35ha featuring shaded picnic areas, open grassy lawns and a playground and was primarily developed as a recreation park. It is landscaped with exotic vegetation species which gives it a different character to other parks in the Dandenong Valley.

Koomba Park

Koomba Park in total covers an area of 92 hectares. Of this land, 33 hectares is accessible to the public. Parts of the area were used for cattle grazing, and cattle can still be seen grazing in paddocks in the northern section. An apple orchard was also present and the park was vegetated with exotics such as elms and hawthorn trees prior to the land being developed into a park.

Shepherds Bush

Shepherds Bush was designated as a water reserve form the early 1860s until at least the early 1900s. It was used as a watering place for locals and travelling stock. The area has never been privately owned and provides the best original creek vegetation in Dandenong Valley Parklands as it has never been cut for timber.

Bushy Park Wetlands

In 1839, Thomas Napier obtained a lease to run cattle, but just a year later he transferred the lease to Alexander Scott, whose wife Madeline named her home on the east of Dandenong Creek "Bushy Park". A succession of owners cleared the timber. Acacia bark was used in the production of tannin to tan hides.

The land was used to run cattle, as a market garden, for cut flowers and as an orchard. By 1981, the land was acquired by the former Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works for use as a park and wetland.

Chesterfield Farm

The 58 hectares that make up Chesterfield Farm today were originally part of the huge Corhanwarrabul cattle run established in August 1838 by Presbyterian Minister, Reverend James Clow. His run extended from the Dandenong Creek to Ferntree Gully, Upwey, Emerald, Lysterfield and beyond. The name Corhanwarrabul comes from the Aboriginal name for Mount Dandenong.

In 1859 a portion of the Parish was acquired by Edmund Ashley, ironfounder of St. Kilda. Ashley built the homestead that still stands near Dandenong Creek flats and named his new venture ‘Chesterfield Park’ from his birthplace, Chesterfield in England. He worked in Melbourne while his older brother worked the farm, breeding horses and growing crops. He also planted the two native Bunya Pine trees that still shade the old homestead.

After the property changed hands several times, a portion was identified as part of the ‘open space green belt’ plan for Melbourne and purchased by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works for the people of Victoria at a cost of $1.8 million. In November 1993 the site was officially opened as Chesterfield Farm. Today the farm is part of 1,325 hectares of parklands in the Dandenong Valley and maintains the heritage landscape as a leased commercial property open to the public.