A History of Elwood




The Elwood Entity

The Traditional Owners

The Fever Ship

Rams and Roads

Recreation on the Hill and the Beach

War in Elwood

Early Settlers

Bushrangers in Elwood

From Swamp to Canal

Noxious Activities

Bluey and Curley

Early Buildings

Radio 3EF Elwood

Trams to the Rescue

Squizzy in Elwood

Shops and Community Services

Elwood's Little Napoleon

A Visit to Elwood Junction 1940s and 1950s

The Writer and the Artist

Flats, Flats and more Flats

The Architect of Elwood

Walking Tour of the Art Deco Apartments of Elwood

Poets Corner


The Admiral of Elwood

Elwood Timeline





PRE-1835 Traditional owners occupy area now known as Elwood.


1802  Charles Grimes from Sydney surveys Port Phillip in the ‘Cumberland’ and describes the Elwood foreshore.


1835  John Fawkner’s ship, the Enterprize drops anchor at Elwood in August en route to founding the settlement of Melbourne on the lower Yarra.


1840    Quarantine station formed at Point Ormond for Scottish fever ship Glen Huntley’.  Three fever victims buried on the bluff, creating St Kilda’s first burial ground. 


1851    First land sale of six blocks between Ormond Road and the Esplanade auctioned at £2/10 per acre.  Victoria’s separation celebrated with bonfire at Point Ormond.


1852    Settlers John and Mary Broadbent arrive in Melbourne from Yorkshire on the Merlin in September and set up tent at Point Ormond.  Bushrangers hold up travellers on the Brighton Road.


1853    Joseph Vautier subdivides his land to create the Elwood Hill Estate.  Broadbents purchase land for home and farm at Vautier Street in March 1854.


1854    Elsternwick Hotel established as a wayside inn.


1855    Elwood’s oldest houses constructed by Reverend Joseph Docker (today 30/30a Vautier Street).  An attempt to save the former stable at 28 Vautier Street fails in 1995. 


1857  Night soil depot established Barkly Street intersection, remaining open till 1869.


1856    Melbourne Hunt Club granted licence at Barkly Street to run hounds. 


1861    Open slaughter yard and timber bridge, then abattoir building, established on Barkly Street on two-acre site bisected by Elster Creek.


1850s and 1860s  Construction of early mansion estates and homes, e.g. Erindale, Chiverton (Brighton Road), Tennyson Villa (Tennyson Street),  Hartpury, Revelston (Milton Street 1870), and seaside mansions e.g. Wiltonia or Bleak House (The Esplanade). 


1862    On 2 July, almost two thousand militia and troops engage in military manoeuvres at Point Ormond.


1870s and 1880s  Boom era after gold rush stimulates housing estates and subdivisions in Elwood e.g. Brighton Road, Mitford Street, Southey Street,  Byron Street, the Esplanade Hood Street, Beach Road, St Kilda Street, Spray Street, Hotham and Grosvenor Streets.  Many fail due to depression in 1890s.


1888     Major works being to drain Elwood swamplands and build Elwood canal.  Cable tramway opens along Brighton Road to Milton Street.


1897    Elwood canal completed from beach to Glenhuntly Road.


1898    Fever victim graves exhumed from Point Ormond and re-interred at St Kilda General Cemetery.


1899    Abattoir closed after protests.


1905    Swamp reclamation completed.


1906    First electric tramline in Victoria opened, from St Kilda station via Elwood to Brighton.


1907    Rifle range (eleven acres) closed at Elwood Beach to become Elwood Park.


1908    Land sale of former swampland occurs on 21 January 1908 followed by second land sale in 1913. 


1913    Elwood Life Saving Club commences the first of many recreational clubs on the foreshore.  Elwood’s earliest shops open in Ormond Road. 

1914    Elwood officially becomes South Ward, St Kilda on the 8th April.


1915    Tram commences along Glenhuntly Road to Point Ormond.


1916    St Bede’s Church opens corner Ormond Road and Byrne Avenue.  In 2005 it sold to developers.


1917    Elwood Primary School opened on former swampland, later becoming a central school and enlarged in 1926.


1917  Early flats built at 73 Mitford Street, forerunner of the housing type that will eventually comprise 65% of Elwood’s dwellings.


1918    St Columba’s Church School opens at 2 Normandy Road.  Presbytery added in 1921 and Parish Hall in 1937.


1919    Broadway Picture Theatre opens at 145-149 Ormond Road and remained open till 1958.


1920    Alderley Building (later housing Turtle café and other shops) constructed at Elwood Junction.


1920s Subdivisions of mansion estates into flats and homes eg. Thalassa, Wimbledon, Rothermere, Whinbank, Hartpury, Arranmure and Chiverton.


1915    Tea kiosk at Elwood Beach.


1926    Electrification of Brighton Road tram route on 28 April.


1929    Roman Catholic Church St Columba’s opened by Archbishop Mannix.


1930    Tearooms open at Point Ormond.


1930  Elwood village grows to almost thirty businesses.


1930  Brutal murder of teacher Molly Dean in lane off Addison Street.


1931    Elwood Talmud Torah holds its first service in Elwood, moving later to Dickens Street.


1937    Polio epidemic alarms population. Elwood canal feared as ‘Plague Canal’.


1956    The Point Ormond tramway closes followed by the St Kilda to Brighton tram in 1959.


1957    Elwood High School opened.


      1957  Canal diversion through Elsternwick Park to the sea at Head Street completed


1969   St Kilda Marina opened on twenty acres of land reclaimed from the sea


1970   Prince Charles swims at Elwood in April describing the water as ‘diluted sewage’.


1974   Aboriginal midden uncovered near Point Ormond.


1985   Reunion of descendants of Glen Huntley fever ship at Point Ormond.


1994   Elwood becomes part of the City of Port Phillip after amalgamation.


1999   Residents create Elwood Community Bank, first urban community bank in Australia.


2006   ‘Flood, Fire and Fever: a History of Elwood’ published by Elwood Community Bank, St Kilda Historical Society and PMI Press.


Elwood Canal

(Sketch by Sharyn Madder)