Gardiners Creek is significant as it forms part of the City of Boroondara’s southern boundary. It’s also where John Gardiner became the first white settler on our side of the Yarra River.
Gardiner, and a sea captain named John Hepburn and a Durham cattle-breeder named Joseph Hawdon, arrived from Sydney late in 1836 with a herd of cattle. Gardiner returned again in April 1837, with his wife and daughter, and settled near the junction of the Yarra River and what was then known as Kooyongkoot Creek. The creek was later renamed after him.
But long before Gardiner's arrival, the banks of Kooyongkoot Creek were a source of vegetation used for food, tools and medicine by the local Aboriginal people, the Wurundjeri. The Wurundjeri people's skills and adaption to their environment meant they were able to sustain their lifestyle for many thousands of years with minimal impact to the environment.
The first survey plans of the area were drawn on a mile square grid. They showed rivers and creeks, the sites of the first squatters, tracks and descriptions of the countryside. They were later updated to include parish boundaries, the first landowners and land sold by the government.
During the 1830s people had to cross the creek or Yarra River by boat to reach John Gardiner's property, but by 1861 there were two bridges, one at Auburn Road and another at Tooronga Road. Three more bridges, at Toorak, Glenferrie and Burke roads, were completed by 1874. Further changes came during the 1930s Depression when Gardiners Creek was straightened in sections by men on sustenance (welfare payments during the Depression).
In the 1950s Gardiners Creek was still more or less in its original state, with various tributaries flowing into the creek, and local children could catch tadpoles and blackfish in its waters. It flooded regularly in parts of Ashburton and Glen Iris.
These days those tributaries have been barrelled and some stretches of the creek have been diverted around the path of the Monash Freeway and its exits.
Upstream of its confluence with Back Creek, Gardiners Creek becomes a stream of great beauty. It is the habitat of water birds. It is a bustling little creek, flowing between trees presently attired in marvellous spring growth. There is a path winding among a close wood of oak trees, spreading everywhere a dappled light, effusing a damp scent of leafy mould. It is so still, so quiet, so sacred.
(Source: Let it be, a pamphlet produced by the Gardiners Creek Valley Association, 1984)
Learn more about the history of the area from resources listed on research your local history.