Heidelberg Historical Society

We want to investigate what came before us and what we can learn from it.

But first we have to learn to live with COVID

The Heidelberg Historical Society Museum is now open on Sundays from 2 pm to 5 pm until the end of November.

Coronavirus restrictions

As per Government regulation the following are required as conditions of entry to the Courthouse:
  • Proof of double vaccination (certificate) must be shown.
  • Wearing a mask inside the building.
  • Registration of your visit using the Victorian Government QR Code smart phone application, or by paper form.
  • Please sanitise your hands upon entry.
Please note that for the rest of 2021 the Research Room will not be open on Sundays due to density requirements.

Only the Exhibition “Truth, Beauty & Utility” is available for viewing between 2 pm & 5 pm by the public.

For more information, please see the Current restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne at the Victorian Government website.


From 31st October 2021

Open Sundays 2.00pm-5.00pm & for group bookings

P.O. Box 39 Heidelberg 3084
(03) 9459 2130

Before the mid-nineteen thirties, it was the conscious or unconscious aim of most people with a little money to live in an ‘artistic’ home—even if they were accountants rather than artists.

The idea that one’s home should be anything other than richly sumptuous and created in the image of the Italian Renaissance was a new one. It was a reaction to the triumph of machine-made products of the Industrial Revolution and to that age itself.

The new mode was for the lady of the house to demonstrate her sensitivity to the beauty of handmade objects and for her husband to pretend that their new house had affinities with a country manor or humble cottage—something older and more ‘picturesque’ than the typical rich man’s mansion.

This quaint image was created by the use of plain, dark-stained timber, inside and out. Houses had steep roofs—often with an attic—and tiny leadlight casements set in roughcast walls.

Around the cosy fireplace ingle, copper plates and vases might wink in the light shed by some antique lantern and choice pieces of the potter’s and embroiderer’s craft might be displayed for visitors.

This was the mental image of the ideal home. By the 1920s this essentially English model became influenced by the American Arts & Crafts style and its greatest product: the rugged Californian bungalow. This style was easily adapted for a democratic Australian market and found favour in Heidelberg.

The Shire attracted practitioners of the artistic crafts. Harold Desbrowe-Annear designed and built quite revolutionary houses and demonstrated how Australians ought to live. Mervyn and Christian Waller and Klytie Pate practised their respective arts in just such a cottage set among the gumtrees on the banks of the Darebin Creek. This exhibition features a rare hand-printed book of drawings by Christian Waller and two examples of Arts & Crafts pottery by her niece, Klytie.

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.

First Nation History

This area has been the home of mankind for around 60,000 years. Many descendants of First Nation live amongst those of us who only understand other historical origins. So what happened with the First Nation people, both before and after European occupation?

A good starting point is the Wurundjeri website.

European Settlement

We have evidence of European land use since the early days of occupation in the 1830s. These timber fences, old sheds and introduced tree species are located on the Yarra Flats in modern day Heidelberg. Non-indigenous people have come to Heidelberg from many places, not just Europe. And some of them were convicts - not many, but a few. Some escaped and some were even bushrangers.


Our Historical Society wants to provide a service to all people who are interested in the history of the area. In 2020 and 2021, we are faced with the COVID 19 virus. History tells us how dangerous such diseases are, mainly since European occupation. We must therefore restrict our activities to maintain the safety of our members and all members of the public. The flu epidemic of 1919 is a well known example.

Heidelberg Historical Society

Inc. No. A0042118P