Like many a name in the Melbourne area, Aspendale bears a name that is more a testament to the optimism of would-be marketers than anything else. The valley of the Mordialloc Creek is a wide and flat one, long since eroded down to being the watercourse across a plain rather anything much noticeable as a valley. And the aspen, in all its species, is native to the northern hemisphere, not the southern.
But that didn’t stop Lucas Harley from trying to begin a plantation of populus tremula along the southern bank of the creek, in the hope of creating a great crop of firewood. Unfortunately, aspen wood is among the least flammable types known, and Harley, stubborn in his plans, refused offers to buy his wood made by the yachtsman of the area, who favoured the light coloured wood for their own construction. Harley went broke inside five years, and committed suicide by hanging himself from the tallest aspen in his plantation.
The area of the plantation was taken over by the government to cover Harley’s many debts, and after some dithering over what to do, converted into a public park under the name Aspendale Gardens. Over the years, the name came to be applied to the suburb that grew up between the park and the beach, albeit without the Gardens part of the name.
Suburbs near Aspendale: