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William Chandler brought his family then consisting of his wife Kate and three children to live at The Basin in 1873. The weather board building they lived in was built on the creek flats. The house was built from straight Manna gums and Messmate timber found on the property. The timber was pit-sawn even to the weather boards, and another refinement lacking in most other bush dwellings was a galvanised iron roof instead of shingles.

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The Chandler Tree: Sheffield Road

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Como House

Circa 1913

Over the years the Chandler family’s achievements were many. In 1873 William Chandler, his wife Katie and their three children moved to the area. Leaving William’s Fathers successful nursery in Malvern to clear 40 acres to establish his own farm. Legend has it that he and his wife planted an acorn that grew into the heritage listed English Oak that stands outside the boundary fence of the family property “Como” on Sheffield road. As the oak grew and spread upward so did the Chandler family.

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The Chandler Tree: Sheffield Road

William and Katie had 11 children all up, 8 boys and 3 girls. With the expanding family came growing success. William would buy more land in the area and become a foundation councilor of the Ferntree Gully shire. Totaling three inherited traits that would follow on through the generations. Horticulture, civic duty and land speculation. William made his children work hard with the expectation that they would acquire property and economic support when they left home. The Parents certainly instilled a fine work ethic in their children. Most successful was Alfred who established his own nursery Everson, which stills continues in name today. He grew daffodils and boronia, abandoning the boronia after it was susceptible to disease. He also became a councilor and eventually was given the honour of naming his own suburb: Boronia after the flower he tried to unsuccessfully grow. He was offered to name the suburb after himself but declined.

Alfred took his political aspirations one step further and joined the Legislative Council and became a Minister in the State Government. He had the Chandler highway named after him which also involves him in a World Record as it is the shortest Highway in the world and has remained so for decades.

Alfred was a committed community man. He donated land for the Boronia Progress Hall and the Methodist Church. He was a justice of the peace and a member of the Bayswater Brass Band. His nursery was opened to the public to raise funds for local charities which he and his wife sponsored. Alfred’s son Gilbert went onto be the most celebrated member of the family going onto be district cricketer, VFL footballer for Hawthorn, serving as a councillor on the Ferntree Gully Shire before going onto a career in State politics. Which resulted in a notable stint as Minister of agriculture, Under his leadership the Department achieved a high level of development which contributed to the advancement of Victorian primary industry, especially in the areas of animal husbandry, research into animal and plant diseases, and the economic management of farms. The Gilbert Chandler Institute of Dairy Technology at Werribee was named in his honour.

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A notable female member is Fergus (Alfred’s nephew) Chandler’s wife Edna. Her most distinguished award being an MBE in 1978 for services to the community and to The Basin Theatre. In 1948, the above mentioned Fergus’ Father Bert after setting up his two older sons, helped his youngest son John to obtain part of the original Como property. They formed a partnership as Bert Chandler and Son. The business continued successfully for 40 more years. In 1988 the Como property was sold and after 117 years now is in the hands of George and Pat Hetrel.

Kitty Chandler Remembers Como

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