Ranelagh Story

The Ranelagh Estate

The Ranelagh Estate is a subdivision of some 800 blocks bounded by Port Phillip, Canadian Bay Road, Mount Eliza Way, the Nepean Highway and Earimil Creek. The Estate was sympathetically designed by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin in 1924 to complement the natural beauty of the hilly terrain nestled between coast and bushland. His long curved streets provide a view of trees and greenery, rather than bitumen and concrete.

The Ranelagh Estate is an intact subdivision that is significant both for its authorship and its rarity. It also possesses a landscape quality rarely matched in Australian suburban design. There are few examples of the Griffins’ work existing outside Canberra. The Ranelagh Estate is one of these. Others are at Eaglemont near Ivanhoe and at Castlecrag in Sydney. The hallmark of Griffin’s planning is the system of open parklands which intersperse the built environment. These open space lots were specifically designed to allow families and children recreation space away from the street.

The estate consists of single and double storey houses situated on spacious blocks. Amongst these properties are a number of individually significant houses and gardens. There is a mixture of well maintained native and traditional private gardens that complement the surrounding natural beauty.


The nomination of the Ranelagh Estate to the Register of Heritage Victoria by the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council was successful and was gazetted in May, 2005. This was the culmination of some years of research and consultation between the Ranelagh Residents’ Association and Council which resulted in Council putting forward the nomination with the support of the Residents.

The registration recognises the cultural heritage significance of the Ranelagh Estate as an early example of garden suburb planning. It is historically and aesthetically significant for its innovative design by Walter Burley Griffin, in association with Marion Mahony Griffin and Saxil Tuxen, which has given us an estate with distinctive long curved roads, recreation reserves, internal reserves (Lots D, E and M), communal facilities, and spacious triangular traffic islands. It is described as “a fine example of a residential subdivision designed to harmonise with the topography and indigenous vegetation of the area. The environmental concerns and principles evident in the design were ahead of their time”.

For residents this does not mean registration of the individual residential allotments (some 795) or the houses (apart from one by Heritage Victoria and several under the Council Heritage Overlay). It does, however, register the design of the estate, through its layout, vistas and planting, its response to the natural beauty of the area and to its preservation, in particular the cliffs, the bay, Earimil Creek and reserves, the internal reserves, the streets and nature strips.

Significant vegetation on nature strips is also on the register. In particular “the evergreen tunnel” of Monterey Cypress alternated with Tuart trees in Wimbledon Avenue and other stands of Tuart and Cypresses especially in Rosserdale Crescent and Rannoch Avenue.

So many of us moved here for the peace and leafiness of Ranelagh, for the vistas and for proximity to the Bay. We feel the Estate will have reached its full development once all individual blocks contain a single dwelling house. Unit and apartment development must continue to be opposed. Past and present associations of Ranelagh residents are recognised in the Heritage Victoria citation as being active against over development.

How can you help preserve Ranelagh’s heritage?

  • We trust that newcomers and long standing residents respect Ranelagh’s heritage and its landscape and garden character by blending houses into gardens and streetscapes.
  • Many of our trees have been removed over time and it would be wonderful if some gaps in our streetscapes were filled in with beautiful shrubbery.
  • If you live beside one of the reserves do join with neighbours to help preserve them and discourage those who do not respect them.
  • Join the Ranelagh Residents’ Association and offer support for your Committee’s projects.

We thank the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council for its support and especially the former Heritage Planning Officer, Mr Peter Brown, for his expertise and devotion to the task of collecting and presenting the evidence on Ranelagh to Heritage Victoria and to the contributors to the submission including Dr David Nichols, Mr Peter Staughton and Dr Juliet Bird. Now we look to the Strategic Planners to tighten the Planning Scheme controls enough to ensure that the character of the Ranelagh neighbourhood will be preserved.


Information regarding the Ranelagh Conservation Management Plan (CMP) can be found on the References page of this website.