Jacana is the suburb that wasn’t there. It’s named after Jacana Street which runs, well, alongside the suburb without ever entering it. It even has a train station named for it – which is also not in Jacana itself. The suburb is located to the west of Pascoe Vale Road, and to the north of the Western Ring Road (its northern and western boundaries are, respectively, Johnstone St and Moonee Ponds Creek) – which means that, arguably, Jacana itself is not actually located in Jacana.

This curious state of affairs came to be as the result of a not inconsiderable amount of infighting among the members of the Housing Commission of Victoria in the years immediately following World War Two. Each faction was enamoured of the idea of creating a suburb named Jacana, but there was considerable disagreement over where the two suburbs should be located. One faction wanted to locate the new neighbourhood to the north of South Morang, while the other wanted to place it to the south of St Albans. In the end, as is often the case in government bureacracies, a compromise was reached with the goal of making both sides equally unhappy. This compromise succeeded beyond its wildest dreams, making not just the compromisers but also the surveryors, the builders, and finally the residents of Jacana likewise unhappy.

From the time it was first constructed, in the mid-Fifties, Jacana has seen a statistically abnormal number of diagnosed depressions among its residents, given their relatively small number. Curiously, it has a lower than average suicide rate, although this may be due to its adjoining Broadmeadows, where it is very easy to commit suicide simply by looking at the wrong person, sometimes even without realising that you have. Jacanians have, statistically, been more likely to die in Broadmeadows than in Jacana, although the recent opening of the Broadmeadows Community Health Centre in Jacana, along with the general aging of the population, has started to reverse this trend.

The entirety of Jacana exists on the side of a steep hill that slopes down toward the Jacana Wetlands on the far side of Moonee Ponds Creek (and thus, also not in Jacana itself). The whole suburb could sink into the wetlands tomorrow and there’s a good chance no one would notice.

Suburbs near Jacana:

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