The suburb of Mentone is situated 28km south of Melbourne CBD. This is a township that sprung up after a railway station was established in the area in 1881. A new design was implemented in 2020 to preserve Mentone’s rich rail history and upgraded the station precinct to make it safer and accessible.
The heritage listed Norfolk Island pines and Canary Island date palms are an attractive feature of the railway garden. The Garryowen horse trough is a key feature of the garden. The Garryowen horse trough commemorates the 1934 tragedy which took the lives of local equestrienne Violet Murrell and her husband Bill while trying to rescue their beloved horses from a fire in their Latrobe Street stable. The trough was presented by the Purple Cross Society to the Mentone Community in 1935.
A brief history of Mentone and its Railway station
In the 1840’s, with no bridges or roads, journey from Mordialloc to Melbourne took two days. The Mordialloc creek had to be forded at low tide before the bridge was built. The village of Cheltenham sprang up as a halfway shopping place between Mordialloc and Melbourne.
In December 1881, first section of the Caulfield and Frankston Railway was opened from Caulfield to Mordialloc. Mordialloc was a township then, and a comparatively good railway station was built there. There were 22 level crossings on the way from Caulfield to Mordialloc which was considered as a blunder at that time. Between Caulfield and Mordialloc, there were seven stations, namely Glenhuntly Road, North Road, East Brighton, South Brighton, Highett Road, Cheltenham, and Balcombe Road. Initially, the Balcombe Road station had a very basic platform with a ticket office which looked more like a shed. The township of Mentone came into existence around Balcombe Road Railway Station.
One of the first settlers at Mornington was, Balcombe, son of a naval officer who retired from navy and became an agent for East India Company at St Helena. After retiring from East India Company, he was appointed as first colonial treasure at Sydney in 1822. After father’s death Balcombe settled at Mornington and bought several hectares of land at today’s Mentone as halfway house for his cattle. Balcombe’s Mentone property was sold by his son to Sir Mathew Davis in the 1880s. The property then known as Balcombe paddock was used by Mathew Davis as a seaside home.
After the railways came, land boom started in the area and many companies were formed to make good the opportunity. Mathew Davies and other developers planned to turn the area into a fashionable seaside resort. Keeping this in mind, in 1886, the name of the railway station was changed from Balcombe Road to Mentone in reference to Mediterranean Riviera coast near the French-Italian border. Royal Mentone Coffee Palace, a destination for wealthy tourists were built in 1887. But the 1890’s depression took the charm out of Mentone’s growth for quite a while.
In 1900, the old Mentone Station shed was replaced with a spacious timber structure on both sides of the railway line.
The process to establish a garden near the station began in 1910. Norfolk Island Pines, Canary Island Palms as well as several peppercorn trees were planted. A fire destroyed the railway station in 1913 and was rebuilt in 1914.