Not named, despite what you may have heard, for the possession of a gardening implement. Nor was it named after a mixed nationality immigrant of Russian-Chinese descent who lived in the area. And it definitely wasn’t named after a certain novel by Sir Walter Scott. In fact, it doesn’t seem to have been named after anything. Hell, it’s perfectly possible that it was named after a handful of letters from a Scrabble hand (it’s the right number of letters, at least).

Ivanhoe is roughly bisected by the Hurstbridge railway line, splitting it between upper Ivanhoe (where the majority of retail activity in the suburb takes place, and the lower income residents live) and lower Ivanhoe (which borders on the Yarra river, and where the real money in the suburb lives). It’s unusual in any suburb for the rich to live downhill from the poor, since it is, after all, the direction that unwanted outpots flow. But the wealthy of Ivanhoe are not like the wealthy of anywhere else. If nothing else, they do appear to appreciate the value of great fertiliser. They also had the best locations for cheap real estate, in which to build prestigious grammar schools for their offspring.

Today, Ivanhoe is an odd place, a land of autumns and springs that seems to remain untouched by all but the greatest excesses of winters and summers. In its own way, it’s a fairy tale place, albeit for twisted (and uniquely Australian) fairy tales – although the tales never seem to touch the people who live there, only those who visit. A magic for those who are only passing through – there are worse places to be only passing through, after all.

Suburbs near Ivanhoe:

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