Elsternwick

E.L. Sternwick was a Renaissance man in the 1890’s. A famed navigator, explorer and naturalist, he was also noted for his artistic achievements (including snapping the earliest recorded daguerreotype of a live platypus) and his athleticism (he played cricket for Victoria, bowling W.G. Grace out on the second bowl the one time they met – Grace, alas, hit the first one for six; Sternwick also played 47 games for St Kilda in the VFA). But as a Renaissance man, he was out of his time.

His Italian background, which he concealed behind his changed name (his birth name was Antonio Vincenzo Scolari) and Etonian manners (which he learned from his first captain along with navigation), was a source of constant fear to him – he lived in terror of being exposed as a fraud. Perhaps it was that terror that drove him to his many accomplishments – in his age as in ours, the famous and popular are rarely questioned.

The locality to the south of the mansion at Ripponlea was his home for many years, and he made himself a comfortable enough life there (or at least, a life that would have been comfortable had the pace of his activity ever dropped below the frenetic). But it was in 1923 that Sternwick, now in his sixties, distinguished himself to his neighbours in such a way that they decided to memorialise him forever: during the police strike that year, he rallied an unlikely coalition of shopkeepers, members of the local football team and a pair of rabbis to keep order along Glenhuntly Road and its environs with remarkable success.

Sternwick died later that year, and it was only then that the one failure of his imposture was exposed: if he had ever devised a first or middle name, he had never told them to anyone. No one could be found who knew him by anything other than his initials. After some debate, the local city council decided that that would do, and the suburb of Elsternwick was named forthwith.

Suburbs near Elsternwick: