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Unpacking Elwood: A History
When you think of Elwood, several things spring to mind: beautiful beachside vistas, quiet, tree-lined streets with grand Victorian mansions and a bustling village strip- it just feels like home. But have you considered what came before you joined the community? A suburb’s history not only gives you a sense of appreciation for your surrounds, but adds a sense of belonging and a reminder that your existence is part of a greater history. In this C&G exclusive series, we take you back in time to explore the rich history of the Bayside suburbs, beginning with Elwood.
A wide swampland - that was the beginnings of our now-genteel Elwood. Home to the Bunurong indigenous community, the then Red Bluff (now Point Ormond) was an important site for the tribe, a place for socialising and the gathering of food. It wasn’t until 1840 that the first white colonials made use of Elwood, but it was not out of sheer attraction to its bayside position. The barque (boat) Glen Huntly was ridden with typhoid, and Red Bluff was deemed a suitable distance from the hub of Melbourne to create a quarantine station.
Elwood didn’t enjoy particularly glamorous beginnings. Throughout its early history, it was variously an abattoir, a night soil depot, a coal mine and a hunting ground. By the turn of the century, the last vestiges of old Elwood had been removed - with the clearing of the swampland and the creation of the canal in 1888 – hoping to attract more residents seeking to escape the swiftly growing city.
Despite Elwood’s change from a more industrial suburb to a residential and recreational one, a housing boom did not occur until the late 1910s, growing again a second time during the 1950s.
Elwood soon became the desirable, beautiful suburb we appreciate it as today, as several social clubs bloomed – including those for surf lifesaving, sea canoe-ing, croquet, tennis, angling and lawn bowls. Many of these original civic pleasure establishments have been demolished, yet Elwood has continued to develop modern places for recreation, education and business. For more information on Elwood’s beginnings and development, visit: