History of Parkland in Harding Street
In 1854 "The roads were on paper only and were tracks through a half wild region. The trip to Melbourne took 2-3 days by saddle hack, dray or bullock wagon". John White migrated to Victoria in 1848 and became the owner of land from "west side of Pembroke Street to Everton Grove, and from Canterbury Road to Shepherd Street". Mr White was a quarryman, and it is believed the current parkland was one of his quarries.
Later, in 1866 Mr John Barratt had 9 acres on this hill "a timber farmhouse [possibly John White's]" and where 15 and 17 Harding Street now exist. On this site he established a farm know as Bluebell Hill. [1868 ratebook shows land, house, orchard and vineyard with the name Bluebell Hill]. To the present time, in spring, bluebells still pop up within the park and in local home gardens.
The original home has gone and the steep land, being deemed unsuitable for development, was for many years unkempt open space. During the mid 1900s the local Baptist Church reclaimed some of the land and built two tennis courts on the south east area of the reserve.
When the tennis court lease lapsed in the 1990's, the locals grouped together to form a tennis club. In honour of the local history, it was named Bluebell Hill Tennis Club.
In the mid-1990's when there was an amalgamation of Councils, this area became part of Whitehorse. However, in 2004, Harding Street residents banded together and became an affiliated park advisory committee which was supported by our local Councillor Sharon Ellis.
Since then, active work parties, together with Council Officers have helped to develop the parkland and it has become an increasingly pleasant passive open space. In addition as it is situated on one of the highest points within the 12 kilometre radius of Melbourne, it has long been a site for people to photograph the sunset over Melbourne or families to watch such spectacular events as New Year fireworks displays in the city. To enhance the experience Council erected a look out at the top of the park.
The Advisory Committee