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History (from documents held by Council)
|Prior to the first European settlers, the landscape was thickly timbered
bushland with Kooris of the Wurundjeri tribe hunting and camping in the creeks and gullies of the area we
now know as Bellbird Dell. The creek flowed from immediately north of the
Dell, through it, and on to join the Dandenong Creek.
The first settlers, who were woodcutters and charcoal burners, came in the 1850s before land sales. Selectors followed and they marked out, leased and improved allotments which would enable them to gain freehold titles from the Crown. Temporary wattle and daub huts were erected and later substantial timber cottages.
Apart from some general farming, orchards dominated the landscape until the 1950s and 60s when the demand for new housing areas led to the subdivision of orchards. Nunawading Council began the acquisition of property in 1966 with the purchase of a large block (7.26 hectares) from local orchardist Cecil Rhodes. This block forms the bulk of Bellbird Dell North, extending from its Philip Street frontage to the then existing freeway reservation. A further 14 titles were progressively acquired between 1972 and 1986 (Bellbird Dell South) and the freeway section was leased to join together the North and South areas. (As shown in map opposite)
In 1972 when, after heavy rains, the increased run-off from the subdivisions caused flooding of Morack Road and the Burwood Highway, the creek was barrelled and the natural watercourse disappeared but the site and its adjoining land was reserved as public open space.
The first improvement works were in 1975 when a small section near Philip Street was cleared of blackberries and gorse, regrassed and play equipment erected. Further improvements such as the walking tracks, second playground, seats and picnic areas followed. Extensive tree planting and landscaping occurred throughout the 1980s.
Permanent water features were constructed and boardwalks built along the central gully which follows the course of the original creek. In times of normal rainfall this gully becomes a natural wetlands and planting has been done to establish habitat suitable for wildlife.
Map of Bellbird Dell