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The once ‘grotty’ and overlooked sleeper suburb well and truly on the map

Generic shots of Glen Huntly for Domain neighbourhoods: Booran Reserve, Glen Huntly RoadTiny suburb that’s a city giantA country town 18km from the CBDBaristas, this suburb needs you
Nanjing Night Net

Glen Huntly was, until recently, easily overlooked.

After the primary school celebrated its centenary, the biggest talking point was whether the suburb’s name was one or two words.

But it’s been put on the map with the opening of the ultimate playground in April.

Booran Reserve is touted as the best and most expensive in town. It catapults a trip to the park to a new stratosphere, way beyond the standard slippery dip and swings. It’s $10.8 million worth of jampacked activity, with lots of water play, on the site of the former reservoir at the corner of Booran Road and Glenhuntly Road. Splash pads and sprinklers are sure to be overrun in summer. An ice-cream van has already seen the chance to cash in on the crowds.

It appears to have resuscitated the small suburb which was in danger of flatlining.

People also spill along Glen Huntly Road to the strip shops, with the owner of Whyte Caf?? reporting a business boost. Across the road, the Safeway, once smudged with pigeon poo, has had a makeover. The fresher Woolworths has revived the precinct, which went quiet when banks and butchers left.

“It needed a change,” a local named Ruth explains. “It had become grotty and a bit sad.” She rates highly the coffee at Whyte, but not some of the signalmen at Glen Huntly station, who leave their post for a comfort break, while passengers wait.

Ruth’s lived in the suburb since 1979, making daily use of the public transport.

“I don’t drive,” she said. “That’s why I live in Glen Huntly.”

The level crossing (not on the removal list) is on the Frankston line, which passes through the centre of the suburb. It’s a half hour trip to town by rail.

One one side of the train line is high density housing, with old homes on the other. The median house price nudges $1.3 million, and $510,000 for units, with more going up in Etna Street and Neerim Road, bordering Caulfield Racecourse.

Glen Huntly was named after a Scottish emigrant ship which landed in Hobsons Bay in 1840. A quarantine station was set up at Point Ormond for fever-ridden passengers, and the track inland became Glen Huntly Road.

Champion athletes Ron Clarke and Robert Decastella trained on Caulfield Racecourse with the Glen Huntly Amateur Athletic Club. The place also bred entrepreneurial success. The dire housing scene in the area spawned an idea in 1932. During the Great Depression, struggling real estate agent Albert Victor Jennings mortgaged his Glen Huntly house to start a homebuilding business. He pre-sold the homes from plans instead of the traditional approach of building, then selling. Jennings became the grandfather of mass-produced and mass-marketed housing in Australia.

Like many Melbourne suburbs, different cultures live together. The Indian grocer thrives, and there’s a Jewish population spilt over from Caulfield. Monash University’s Caulfield campus is close. All it needs now, according to Ruth, is some street art. That might be next, once the coffers recover from the extravagant new playground.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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