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Elwood

(3184, 8 km S, Port Phillip City)

A bayside suburb lying between St Kilda, Brighton and Elsternwick on Hobsons Bay west of the Nepean Highway, Elwood was probably named by Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe after Thomas Ellwood, an influential English Quaker.

Originally a swamp, Elwood was progressively developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries after a canal linking the Elster Creek with Port Phillip Bay was constructed to drain the area. Point Ormond, just south of the canal, was formerly known as Red Bluff. Elwood beach has long been a popular summer destination for families, who are attracted to its safe swimming and relative peace and quiet in comparison with the more boisterous St Kilda.

Many of Elwood's street names recall British writers and poets, the north-western section of the suburb popularly known as Poet's Corner (commemorating Byron, Chaucer, Milton, Ruskin, Shakespeare and Wordsworth). Elwood's housing stock reflects Queen Anne, Federation and early Californian Bungalow architectural styles. Large numbers of flats were built in the interwar period and again in the 1960s and 1970s, dominating the suburb's streetscapes and marking the suburb as one of Melbourne's most densely settled. Mainly residential in character, Elwood's small business district is based on Glen Huntly Road in the Elwood Village, with a smaller centre in Brighton Road. There are no hotels in the suburb, although recent gentrification has seen many bars, caf├ęs and restaurants established in the Village and along Brighton Road and the foreshore.

Elwood became home to many of Melbourne's Jews, who moved there from Carlton and other inner northern suburbs or arrived as refugees from the Nazi regime and later as survivors of the Holocaust. In the 1990s, a new wave of immigrants, mainly Russian and other Eastern European Jews, mixed with young professionals attracted to the area's eclectic mix of dwelling types and its proximity to the beach and the city.

Seamus O'Hanlon