Heidelberg is a suburb situated 13 kms from Melbourne city centre that was established as a rural allotment in 1838. Originally, the suburb was named Warringal, referring to an Aboriginal word for ‘eagle’s nest’. It abuts the serpentine Yarra River to the south and is dotted with hilltops providing panoramic views to mountains in the north and east. One of these is Banyule Hill, crowned with the gothic Banyule Homestead. The Heidelberg School of artists, based in this pocket of this suburb in the 1880s, defined Australian Impressionism. Heidelberg now is home to state-of-the-art medical facilities at the Austin and Mercy Hospitals at the top end of Burgundy Street. Heading downhill one passes through the bustling central shopping precinct, before crossing Rosanna Road to parklands of the river flats. This unique verdant island locked within the suburban sprawl of Melbourne provides a refreshing backdrop to many outdoor activities, be they cycling, running, boot camp, dog exercise and training, or just plain walking. Despite all this human activity, there is sufficient space and distance to allow one to feel as if you are alone in a woodland forest, allowing escape from the typical daily hustle of city life. The Banyule Flats area of Heidelberg is truly a breath of fresh air in what would otherwise be just another city suburb.
Pictures and words by Robert Labuc.