Near the Macleod station, south of Cherry Street is a housing Estate which was sub-divided in 1922. All the streets were named in honour of Victoria Cross recipients from Victoria or Tasmania.
There have only ever been 100 Victoria Cross (VC) awards for Australia, 64 in WWI and 20 in WWII. It is Australia’s highest military honour. Nine of the men who received a VC are honoured with streets named after them in this Estate. Information about most of these men is shown at the Information Boards at the start of the walk, west of the Macleod station.
This land had been owned since 1903, by Edith (b.1869) and Malcolm Macleod (b.1867, d.1942) who were married in 1896. He was a Heidelberg councillor and the area was then designated as North Heidelberg. In 1910 the State Government bought the land from the Macleods along with adjacent land to allow access to the Mont Park Asylums.
The Estate was designed by surveyor and town planner Saxil Tuxen, and land was taken up slowly in the 1920s. Tuxen’s design incorporated diagonal streets following the elevation of the hill, rather than a standard grid. The area was divided into 277 blocks (see the old Estate Plan at the start of the Walk, supplied by the Heidelberg Historical Society.)
The Depression of the 1930s slowed all home development in the interwar period in Melbourne. Some of the houses in the Estate feature restored 1930s facades and there is an interesting mix of the original weatherboard houses, very modern homes and quite a few blocks of units. One brick house which remains on the corner of Cherry St and McNamara St near the station, was built about 1926.
The plan of the Estate shows a series of laneways allowing access to the back of all the houses. This was for the 'night soil' collection from the toilets in the back yards of the blocks. Septic tanks replaced these 'thunder boxes' before the outer Heidelberg area was finally attached to the Melbourne sewerage system from about the 1960s. As you wander the Estate you will be able to observe many of these laneways, some of which have been incorporated into driveways for the blocks of units.
Some of the houses were originally owned by people who worked at the Mont Park Asylum complex on the north side of Cherry St. The proximity of the area to La Trobe University and the Macleod station ensures the desirability of homes in this historic Estate.
Two of the men who were awarded a Victoria Cross never returned to Australia being killed in battle. The men who survived WWI and avoided the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 - 1919, all married and most had families, and some became prominent in public life in Melbourne. Captain Albert Jacka is probably the most famous of these veterans and he sustained many serious injuries during his service, and died quite young at age 39 years.
Private Ted Kenna and Private Bruce Kingsbury both served in WWII in New Guinea.
Two Reserves are hidden away in the Estate and you will be able to wander through them, having traversed each street named after a veteran. Enjoy your walk! Then try Macleod Station to Mont Park Heritage Trail - https://walkingmaps.com.au/walk/4487
Details about the Victoria Cross recipients are here, and a map which shows the rear laneways which allowed access for the 'night cart' service. Look for the lanes, some are now driveways for units.
Malcolm and Edith Macleod owned all this land from 1903 to 1910 and lived in Strathalan House which was off Greensborough Rd Macleod. This Federation era house is in the Strathalan Aged Care complex.
Albert Jacka was born near Winchelsea in Victoria and is described as 'Australia's greatest front-line soldier'. He fought in Gallipoli and France. Note the variety of houses and gardens as you walk.
Jack Dwyer was a Tasmanian, born in 1890 near Bruny Island. He was awarded his VC after fighting in Belgium in WWI and on his return served in the Tasmanian Parliament almost until his death in 1962.
'Rusty' Ruthven was born in 1893 in Collingwood and was presented with his VC by Sir John Monash in France in 1916. After also serving in WWII he became Mayor of Collingwood, and a parliamentarian.
As you walk up Ruthven St and look south east past Victoria Ave and Mountain View Pde, the tall black office blocks of Box Hill and the Doncaster shops and high rise apartments can be glimpsed.
Opposite Kenna St is a laneway/driveway which goes down to the quiet Kingsbury Reserve. Bruce. This is one of the original laneways which allowed access to the rear of homes to remove 'nightsoil'.
This Reserve and paths now form a link between Macleod Pde and Grieve St and Kenna St. Play equipment and the grassy areas are well utilised and the area is overlooked from the back of many homes.
Bruce Steele Kingsbury died in WWII in New Guinea at only 24 years of age and was the only VC of the Kokoda campaign. He is remembered also by Kingsbury Drive which runs past La Trobe University.
Severely wounded such that he was repatriated in 1918, Lt Grieve was the second oldest of these WWI veterans (b. 19th June 1889). He had been presented with his VC by King George V in the UK in 1917.
Private Ted Kenna (1919 - 2009) was the last living WWII recipient of the Victoria Cross. He was born in Hamilton Victoria and lived back there. He spent a year in Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital.
The Victoria Police Forensic Science Centre is west of Waiora Rd. Tests performed here include DNA sequencing, gunshot/explosives tracing, drug and poison identification and fibre and plant analyses.
Born on 19 March 1889 Joynt was the oldest of this group and became a great advocate for returned servicemen and their families. He was the last surviving VC from WWI, when he died at age 97 in 1986.
Past the Grieve St and Dwyer St intersection, a laneway on the left leads to Victoria Cross Reserve. This laneway was also an access point to the rear of the homes and backyard toilets, in the 1930s.
Percy Cherry was awarded a Military Cross in March 1917 and a VC in the same month in France. He died in this last battle at only 21 years of age. The original name of Cherry St was Military Rd.
Albert Jacka was awarded the first VC of WWI on 19th May 1915 after an attack on Turks at Gallipoli. He also received a Military Cross in 1916 and a bar (a second MC award) in 1917 in France.
William Joynt had attended Melbourne Church of England Grammar School. An exhibition at the school in 2008 recognised him as one of their praiseworthy Alumni. He had been born in Elsternwick in 1889.
Dunstan fought at Lone Pine Gallipoli where he earned his VC on 9th August 1915. This was one of the first VCs in WWI. At age 20 he was the youngest in this group of soldiers. He was born in Ballarat
On the corner of Cherry St , Wungan St and McNamara St is a brick house and integrated shop which were built in 1926. In a bungalow style the house has solid tapered piers forming the charming porch.
Air Vice-Marshal Frank McNamara was born in Rushworth, Victoria in 1894. He was the first and only Air Force pilot awarded a VC in WWI. He served again in WWII in the UK , and died there in 1961.
These men showed remarkable courage to earn Victoria Crosses. Both Kenna and Kingsbury served in New Guinea in WWII and the others in WWI. Young Capt Cherry and Private Kingsbury were both killed.