Notes of talk given by Mr Ron Farquar to a general meeting of Heidelberg Historical Society, 12 Oct 1982.
Scraps of Old Heidelberg History
The Mount Eagle Estate
"When the western half of ‘Hartlands’ was sub-divided and sold (1853-54), one of the larger purchases was by William Henry Fancourt Mitchell. He bought Lots 5, 6, 7 & 8 which comprised 60 acres for £2250 (£37/10/- per acre). He bought the land with the potential for development. However he sold it before it could be re-subdivided. The land was then sold to Christopher Bagot in 1857 for £3000 (£50 per acre).
It changed hands again in 1859 for £3600 (£60 per acre) when John Henry Brooke purchased it. He intended to build a mansion on the property, however this never came about. Instead he constructed a small timber home, and improved the land by planting many trees and constructing a long drive from Maltravers Road, some of which became Outlook Drive.
In 1871 the same 60 acres was conveyed to Samuel Wilson for £3760, (£62/13/4 per acre). In 1877 he leased the property to Mrs. R. G. Durham who ran a business from the house which she called “Mount Eagle Tea Gardens” - a favourite calling place for visitors from Melbourne.
In 1888 the land was bought by the Eaglemont Estate Company who comprised Charles Davies, A. D. Hodgson, John Christopher, John Jackson and John Macmeikan. The Eaglemont Estate (the land north of The Eyrie) had already been acquired from John Christopher in exchange for a major share holding in the Eaglemont Estate Company, by the same Company as future sub-divisional land. The Eaglemont Estate was divided into large parcels and was put up for sale, while the Mount Eagle Estate was divided into large blocks for the use of the Company's shareholders, in particular Davies (who resided on the section near Maltravers Road) and Hodgson who lived on the property between this and The Eyrie.
The Company when sub-dividing the Eaglemont Estate created roads of 1 chain in width, and planted choice English trees. A provision was included on all land sales, that buildings to be erected cost no less than £750 which was quite a sum for that period.
A block of 9 acres between Mount, Castle, Hawdon and Durham Streets was sold to Edmund Edmunds Smith. He called this land "Awaba" and built his large home on the south-west corner of Castle and Hawdon Streets.
By 1893 only a further 13½ acres of the Eaglemont Estate had been sold. This totalled £7140 (£530 per acre). No land on the estate was sold in the depressed years of the late 1890's. Even in December 1900 a large land auction failed to find any purchasers, and it was not until 1902 that the land began to sell.
Around 1918 Walter Burley Griffin was commissioned to design an exclusive housing estate on the Mount Eagle land. The estate included the very latest town planning ideas with community parklands behind housing allotments, and winding streets, rather than the usual linear pattern.
Around 1920 the land was developed and available for purchase. The sales started very slowly with land selling at about £240 - £250 per allotment. It was a few years still before sales began to pick up. In 1926 and 1927 land along The Eyrie was selling for around £300 per block while on the corner of Summit Drive and Outlook Drive, the bigger blocks were sold for £550 to £600.
It was not until 1933 that the land really started to sell. The blocks adjacent to Lower Heidelberg Road cutting sold for £500 each. The views offered by the prominent sites dramatically increased the values of these blocks as evident by sales in 1935. In Outlook Drive, Lot 38 (on the high side) sold for £1180 while properties almost opposite sold for £500 only 18 months previously. From 1933 to 1938 some sites increased from £500 to £800 and £850."