The seeds of Melbourne’s thriving ‘second city’ of Dandenong, 31 km south of the CBD, were sown in 1837 when a drover named Joseph Hawdon, who had set off south from Sydney several weeks before, watered his cattle at the local creek. Hawdon liked what he saw and established the first of what were to be a chain of cattle runs along Dandenong Creek.
Dandenong remained one of the state’s major cattle marketing areas well into the second half of the 20th century until large companies such as Heinz, International Harvester and General Motors Holden began taking up newly released industrial estates in the late 1950s.
The saga of the history and development of Dandenong is locked into Heritage Hill, which embraces historic buildings and museum displays in the centre of the city.
It is just a 20min drive south on the South Gippsland Highway from Hampton Park to Australia's No 1 target for meteorites, Cranbourne. In 1860 a shower of meteorites ranging up to 1.5 tonnes in weight peppered Cranbourne and the event is remembered with a display of 12 replicas of the outer space visitors in the Meteorite Picnic Park on the corner of the highway and Camms Road.