St. Kilda timeline
A chronology of a 'red light' district

1890 1906 1922 1938 1954 1970 1986 2002

Pre - 1890

  • Before 1800, the people of the Eastern Kulin nation were the traditional owners of Euroe Yroke, now known as St Kilda.
  • 1886 - Police find prostitution in Acland Street, St. Kilda.

1900 - 1910

  • 1900's - St Kilda was the best address in town.

1920 - 1930

  • 1920 - During the twenties, cocaine is sold in paper twists. It was known as 'Two-Bob' or 'Joe Blow'
  • 1930's - The sale of sly grog is rampant in St. Kilda, and prostitution is thriving in Fitzroy Street, Grey Street and Blessington Park. Residents complain about motorcars and the 'frog skins' (condoms) left in the park.
  • 1935 - the ship 'Enterprise' lands at Elwood.

1940 - 1950

She may look clean, but ...
Picture courtesy of United states Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health.

  • 1940 - Wartime. St Kilda is the entertainment capital during World war II, popular with servicemen. Base Section IV HQ, under the command of Colonel Gallaway, are billeted at the Gatwick Hotel.

VD helps the enemy
Picture courtesy of United states Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health.

  • 1941 - The National Security Venereal Disease & Contraception regulators directed the State of Victoria to search for infected women. By 1943, 30 women per week were examined at the Queen Victoria hospital. The US Army set up a condom station by partitioning two stalls at the far end of the mens' toilet near the Luna Park entrance, this closed down in 1946.

Juke Joint Sniper
Picture courtesy of United states Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health.


1950 - 1960

  • 1956 - St. Kilda railway commences. Hundreds flood to the beach.
  • 1960 - Prostitution increased proportionally in St Kilda as car ownership increased and rents for flats and houses became more affordable. It was around this time that specific areas within St Kilda became known for offering different services - male workers worked in Shakespeare Grove and Chaucer Street, transexuals worked Barkly, Irwin & Belford Streets and female workers worked Grey, Blessington and Greeve Streets.

1970 - 1980

  • The residents of West St Kilda want prostitution removed from their streets and form 'West Action' with Colin Bell as chairman and Graham Bradbury as vice-chairman. Bradbury stated '... the victims of prostitution are those people whose home values have eroded, and whose address has become a dirty joke ...' Members of the St Kilda Womens Liberation Group and the Prostitution Action Group came out to protest. Their slogan was 'Why should prostitutes pay? Why should prostitutes be hassled because of problems they don't cause? Straight women are complaining about being hassled by gutter crawlers - why not find other ways to control gutter crawlers? Is this just another way to set the police loose against prostitues again? Prostitutes have the same rights as residents and citizens as well.'
  • 1978 - Transexual prostitute Adelle Evelyn Baily vanishes. Her body was found 17 years later in a well on a property owned by a Vice cop's brother.
  • 1979 - Operation Zeta, the biggest Police clean-up campaign in St Kilda's history is undertaken.

1980 - 1990

  • 1980 - The Foundation of Alcoholism & Drug Dependence estimates that 95% of prostitutes in St Kilda were on the dole and most were addicts, ranging in age from 15 to 23 years.
  • 1985 - a labour government introduces legislation that legalised prostituion in brothels that have a valid planning permit.
  • 1985 - The Neave Report is released.

No bad women, just bad laws


  • August 29, 2002 - The Street Prostitution Advisory Group proposes a tolerance zone for sex workers. Plans get dumped as residents and traders complain against it. A tolerance zone is an area in which a street sex worker can work safely and not be scared of rape or violence.
  • August 29, 2003 - The naked body of St Kilda sex worker Kelly Elizabeth Hodge, 26, was found wrapped in a red blanket and dumped in a gutter on Old Sydney Road near Kilmore.
  • October 30, 2003 - A specialised court has been set up to deal with prostitution charges on the first Tuesday afternoon of every month.
  • July 2004 - Grace Ilardi is murdered. Violence is almost a daily hazard for an estimated 400 street workers in St Kilda.It is estimated that there are 15 attacks per week against street sex workers and in response most of the crimes do not get reported to the police. In 1986 the Prostitutes Collective of Victoria started the award winning Ugly Mugs program, circulating descriptions of dangerous clients to both street sex workers and the police.
  • 2005 - Prostitution is on the increase again in St Kilda, and sex workers have been reporting that residents have been hurling eggs and rocks at them to move them away.

Last updated January, 2007
© 2006 Beeworld Pty Ltd