Aspendale was occupied by Australian Aboriginals for many thousands of years before European settlement. Europeans began farming the area in the 19th century and displaced local inhabitants. When European appropriation began, the land was occupied by the Bunurong people. The geography of the area at the start of European settlement consisted of large sand dune complexes on the coast, and wetland areas inland. The area is flat and low-lying, reaching above sea level by only a few metres.
The geography and ecology of the area has undergone radical changes as a result of European settlement. Much of the wetland area was drained during the second half of the 19th century, with the largest remnants now protected in the Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Ramsar site, part of which lies in Aspendale. Likewise, only modest remnants of the sand dunes exist today near the beach. The beach is a depositary, sandy beach, and the waters remain shallow a long way out. Although no wetland areas remain in Aspendale itself, significant wetland areas have been preserved in the adjacent suburbs of Edithvale and Aspendale Gardens and these areas provide a good indication of what Aspendale once would have looked like. Migratory bird species from all over the world visit these areas.
Aspendale was home to Aspendale Park racecourse, a horse racing and motor racing track. The suburb’s name comes from Aspen, a successful racehorse. Aspendale train station was built primarily to cater towards the racing crowd in the early part of the 20th century. The racecourse closed in the 1920s, and nothing remains of it.
Although there are a few older houses nearer the beach, it was in the 1960s and 1970s that Aspendale was extensively subdivided for residential purposes. Today, it is almost entirely residential in character. Houses are typically detached and made of brick. Blocks of land from this era are usually a quarter of an acre in size. Many of the street names are Aboriginal words, e.g. ‘Yallambee,’ ‘Iluka,’ ‘Tarlee,’ ‘Nirringa’ and ‘Cooinda.’ Other streets are names after racehorses, e.g. ‘Marabou,’ ‘Lincoln’ and ‘Gothic.’
Aspendale Post Office opened on 16 December 1908. Aspendale railway station opened in April 1891 as Aspendale Park Race-Course, and was renamed Aspendale in 1905.
During the late 1950s the Catholic population of Aspendale sought to celebrate Mass locally, initially at Martin’s Dance Hall opposite Aspendale Station. When the hall was sold, Mass was celebrated in the old Scout Hall at Regents Park. In 1961 the current Catholic school and church site was purchased, with the school opening in 1965.
The ornithologist Archibald James Campbell took a number of nature photographs in Aspendale between 1896 and 1903. In the 1960s, the art dealer and restaurateur Georges Mora had a beachside house in Aspendale which was regularly visited by artists such as Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan. This role of Aspendale as an artists’ haven was recognised in an exhibition at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in early 2008.
Prior to forming part of the City of Kingston, Aspendale was part of the City of Chelsea and, before that, the Shire of Carrum.