Wendouree West Community Renewal  
 
Wendouree West Profile and History

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The area known as Wendouree West is part of the Wendouree postcode area of 3355, is located 7 km west of the Ballarat CBD. It is bounded by Learmonth Road (Sunraysia Highway), Gillies Street West and an industrial estate to the North. Wendouree West, situated on the northern outskirts of the urban area of Ballarat, is close to a large indoor shopping complex and within close proximity to Wendouree.

Source: Wendouree West Community Action Plan

Wendouree West location
Wendouree West Area - On Map of Ballarat
Source: Wendouree West Community Action Plan

Population:  2831           Population density: 291.9 persons per km2
 

Area (km2): 
9.7                  Number of dwellings: 1120 (1996 Census) 1081 (2001 Census)

Average number of persons per dwelling:  2.6 

Ministry of Housing Stock:
38% of all housing stock (2001 Census)

Source:
Courtesy of Australian Bureau of Statistics Census 1996 and 2001

History of Wendouree West
The area known locally as Wendouree West had a very different beginning than the areas of Ballarat developed during the Gold Rush of the 1850s. The Ballarat West Estate, as it was originally named, was a planned broad area development to meet the needs of a perceived growing industrial economy in Ballarat. State and Federal governments of the day were grappling with the influx of new immigrants in the early post Second World War years, and the Wendouree West Estate was part of the push to create decentralised regional areas for industry away from the capital cities.

The estate was being discussed as early as mid 1949. The Shire of Ballarat along with the Ministry of Housing and the State Government Decentralisation Committee met to discuss the subdivision for public housing, of a major part of the Ballarat West Town Common. The Council of the day whole-heartedly embraced the concept. An initial development of 100 houses per year was proposed to complement the establishment of industries in the area. It was also proposed at that time to set aside 100 acres of land for a migrant hostel, and land made available  for company housing if any of the proposed new industries were interested in the concept. In these early stages the Ministry of Housing had some reservations as to whether the adjacent proposed industries would create a demand for housing.

Council received the first proposal from the Housing Ministry to build homes on the estate in December 1950. The Ministry's early reservations were apparently unfounded and by June 1952 96 homes were completed, with a further 100 expected to be completed by the end of 1952. Unfortunately in their haste to build homes the amenity of the area was eroded as the Ministry acquired land set aside for recreation. It was around this time that the Wendouree West area showed a community spirit as residents lobbied for postal services, street lighting and shops. The houses were there but the roads were unmade and there was no sewerage.

Wendouree West 1958
Aerial view of Wendouree West in 1958
Photo Source: Courtesy of Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation.

At the Ballarat West Estate Development Conference in July 1953, the Ministry pushed for "block squeeze" for land subdivided north of Grevillea St. This meant that they were hoping to accommodate more homes on smaller parcels of land. Through these early years the residents were active in pushing for reserves for neighbourhood play areas. It wasn't until December 1954 that the general store and post office was opened. Lobbying for a local school was under way but the residents were disappointed as the Education Ministry in 1956 delayed the building of the Ballarat Common School. Council, however purchased land and built an infant welfare centre and pre-school on the Corner or Norman and Daffodil Sts.

As the streets of the estate were being paved the residents yet again lobbied their local council representatives, this time for street trees. By August of 1957 they succeeded, with the Ministry of Housing footing the bill for street trees and guards for the complete sections of the estate. The estate at that time was also home for RAAF servicemen and their families. In September 1962 the first step towards sewer construction was commenced.

Wendouree West Aerial 1970s
Wendouree West during 1970's
Photo Source: Courtesy of Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation.

Building continued throughout the next decade and records show that Council, in 1973, requested that the ministry only build brick homes in any future development on the estate. By early 1980's Council was requesting the Ministry of Housing build elderly persons units to accommodate the changing population demographics.

But unfortunately the Estate was starting to show signs of social decline. As early as 1968 correspondence between Council and the Ministry of Housing centred around the dead and dying street trees, vandalism and lack of property maintenance, particularly gardens and nature strips. The issues being raised in Wendouree West were not uncommon and in December of 1980 the Ministry of Housing set up an Estate Improvement Working Party to study all low-density public housing estates. It was around this time that the Ministry of Housing began to re-think its philosophy on public housing and began to look more at spot purchase rather than broad acre developments such as Wendouree West.

Source: Courtesy of City of Ballarat Archival Material, accessed November 2002.

Wendouree West Aerial 1970s
Wide view of Wendouree West during the early 1970's
Photo Source: Courtesy of Central Highlands Regional Library Corporation.

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