Heidelberg Historical Society

The Heidelberg Historical Society Museum is open on Sunday afternoons, from 2PM - 5PM.

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-Württemberg 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 Brown 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.

Heidelberg Area
The map shows districts historically related to the name Heidelberg


The First 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 & Research Centre

Heidelberg Museum

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, COVID permitting.

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.



The Arts & Crafts Movement in Heidelberg.

Truth & Beauty Exhibition

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.

Napier Waller House

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.


From Sunday 6th March 2022

  • Open Sundays 2.00pm-5.00pm & for group bookings
  • Contact Us:
  • 15 Jika Street, Heidelberg 3084
  • (03) 9455 2130
  • (heidelberg.historical.society@gmail.com)