Balaclava

The year was 1857, and the War of the Crimea was not long concluded, when the residents of St Kilda decided that some sort of tribute was in order. A series of meetings were held to determine what they should do, until finally one resident pointed out that the chance to erase a local shame was at hand: they could at last be free of the embarrassment that a nickname for the south-eastern quarter of the suburb had caused.

This nickname had come to pass some years previously, when Vladimir Czatzdo had first moved to the area, bringing with him the money he had mysteriously made on the goldfields (without ever setting foot there) and the few surviving members of his original expedition, including a Greek baker named Dimitrios Karrvos. Dimitrios had returned to his former trade, operating from premises on Carlisle Street, and selling a variety of his nation’s fascinating assortment of pastries and breads.

The shop became so well known for its signature pastry, baklava, that people traveled from all over Melbourne (and in some cases farther afield) to sample its wares, and few went away disappointed. But the local residents found the whole thing mortifying. Oh, not the financial success of the bakery, but the fact that it was owned and operated by (respectively) a shady nouveau riche Russian and a working class Greek, both of whom were profiting by selling Turkish sweet pastries was beyond the pale. The rumoured construction of a railway station nearby (a rumour that came true in 1859) gave the final impetus to the name change, and the area changed from being informally called Baklava to being formally known as Balaclava (several local streets were named for other battles of the Crimean War as well, to help nail it down).

Suburbs near Balaclava: