Heidelberg Historical Society

The Heidelberg Historical Society Museum is closed for January, but will open again in early March.

All those who enter the Museum must follow Government COVID 19 Health Guildelines.

Where is Heidelberg?

Near Austin Hospital

  • Heidelberg is a suburb of Melbourne, Australia.
  • It is 11 km north east of central Melbourne, on the banks of the Yarra River.
  • In the past, the name "Heidelberg" has been applied to a wider area than the modern suburb
  • It was the name of an early Road Board
  • Heidelberg was the name of a Shire and later a City.
  • It gave its name to an artistic phenomenon, the Heidelberg School.

How did Heidelberg get its name?

Credit for the name "Heidelberg" is generally given to speculator and early land owner Richard Henry Brown. It was speculated that he had enjoyed time as a student at Heidelberg University in Germany (or Baden-W├╝rttemberg at the time). This is partly because Rolf Bolderwood wrote a story about it in his book "Old Melbourne Memories".

Bolderwood says it was just a story, but many people have taken it to be literally true. There is no evidence that Browne attended the Heidelberg University - or any other university.

R.H. Brown purchased lot 6 in the 1838 land sales, which took place in Sydney. He kept the land for less than 5 years, but he referred to it as Heidelberg Farm, and he was called (amongst other things) "Heidelberg Brown".

Until the 1860s, the village was called "Warringal" and court records were so marked. After that the name Heidelberg took over for the suburb, although most of Browne's land was in modern day Rosanna.


Other places of interest to Heidelberg Historical Society include:

Any area that was ever in a local government area called "Heidelberg". Some places, such as Fairfield and Hurstbridge, have long ceased to share local governments with us, but we still have some historical information about them.
  • Heidelberg Heights
  • Heidelberg West
  • Ivanhoe
  • Eaglemont
  • Rosanna
  • Viewbank
  • Lower Plenty
  • Greensborough
  • Eltham North
  • Bellfield
  • Parts of Bundoora
  • Montmorency
  • Macleod
  • Watsonia
  • Briar Hill
  • Yallambie

Visitors can research information about these and other places at the Museum.


The People of this Area

We acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of this Land. We also pay our respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to all other Indigenous Australians. Our way forward is to look honestly at the past, avoiding the old distorted historical accounts as much as possible.

Heidelberg Historical Society Museum

Near Heidelberg

Heidelberg Historical Society Museum is located in the old Heidelberg Courthouse, Jika Street, Heidelberg. Here we have collections of historical records and objects with facilities for researching subjects of interest.

Periodic exhibitions of special interest are also held at the Museum.

Normal opening hours are 2PM-5PM on Sundays, although it is closed at present over the holiday period.

During the year, arrangements can generally be made for visits at other times. A small charge is made for entry to the museum, except for Members, who can enter free of charge.

In addition to physical records and objects, museum volunteers have entered large quantities records on computer databases, which are also available to visitors and to members.


    Postal Address
  • Heidelberg Historical Society
  • PO Box 39
  • Heidelberg VIC 3084
    Email Address: heidelberghistoricalsociety@gmail.com
    Phone: (03) 9455 2130


When the first train ran from Melbourne to Heidelberg in 1889, one of the dignitaries missed it. He ordered his horse and carriage to take him to Heidelberg and arrived ahead of the train. So the train took longer than the horse and cart to go from Melbourne to Heidelberg.

Long discussions took place about the route of the railway at the time. The upper, lower and middle route were debated. Heidelberg might have been different had the "lower" or "upper" route been adopted, rather than the "middle" route that we have today. If this is an interest of yours, we can help.

Heidelberg School

Near Heidelberg
Near Heidelberg - Streeton

In the 1890s, a group of impressionist artists lived and worked at their painting in the Heidelberg area. Their work was a sensation. Because of one summer of work, they gave Heidelberg an unmatched reputation. In reality, only two of the group did much work in Heidelberg and all of them did most of their work elsewhere, but why ruin a good story with such details? Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton represented the "Heidelberg School".

We don't have any original Heidelberg School paintings, but we do have plenty of information about this iconic Australian artists' movement.