Well, I think it’s about time I mentioned how much I love Melbourne and why. A little bit about the layout of our fair city.
I think I knew from my teenage years I would move to Melbourne. I grew up in North East of Victoria and it seemed the town (cough/ choke) they consider it a rural city, just didn’t evolve or progress. So, Melbourne here I come.
We always did day trips to Melbourne (3.5 hours by car) to go to Art Supply stores for my older sister, to check out the National Gallery (now known as the NGV. Because we have to ACRONYM THE SHIT OUT OF EVERYTHING, right) and to University Open Days. I got to tag along when my older sister was getting ready to go to Uni, she ended up being a poor art student in an actual rural University, country town (not in Melbourne).
However, I moved to Melbourne when I was nineteen, I transferred my supermarket job to the city and was a poor art student for two years.
I first lived in Brunswick in a shared household scenario. That is a harsh rude awakening to life, but you make it work. My parents paid my rent while I was studying and I paid everything else. I was a student for only two years. The course was a second choice for me and while I didn’t continue in that career, I discovered the Alternative Club Scene, which became my social life and where I discovered a different style of music culture and such.
Yet, to cover the club stuff, but not today. Maybe in this series, when I first moved to Melbourne, it was 1992. Rent was cheap, so cheap, only $50.00 per week (and my parents paid it) and I lived in Brunswick, which was not cool then. I lived in that area for a year or so, then relocated to South Yarra.
Here’s the fun part.
Melbourne breaks down like this – There is a river that goes through the centre, called the Yarra (pronounced Yarrah) don’t get excited, it’s not a river to go swimming in, unless it’s an era of concrete boots. (Mafia, crime etc) and that’s not swimming, that’s drowning.
Anyway, it’s considered everything North of the Yarra is North-side, South of the Yarra is the South side. Then there’s the Western suburbs, which we like to dis (disrespect) and the East, my take on the Eastern suburbs is ‘old-money’ and I don’t know anyone who can afford to live there. There are pockets all over the inner city, Sunshine, Prahran, Brunswick, Northcote (all over Melbourne) where the wog’s settled when they immigrated here, which was around 1940’s.
There is still a sense of presence in all of those areas of that generation of Europeans. I think the Western suburbs even more so and they kept the factories and car industries alive.
Anyway, it seemed once I move to the southern side of the city, that’s where I thrived. My club career took off (if you can call it that) and that’s where I stayed.
For some years, I lived in several places a stones throw from Chapel Street, first in South Yarra, then Prahran, then in Windsor. Now back in the 90’s, Chapel Street was the place to be, designer label shops, café’s, street culture people.
The place I lived in South Yarra, (to this day, the cheapest rent I ever paid. $262.15 per month) there was a Porsche mechanic three doors down, so they would work late and you could hear them ‘Fanging it’ in the back streets at 3am.
But anyway, I digress.
I only recently realized I wasn’t even in Melbourne that time for ten years, I guess it felt longer because I kept myself so busy seven days and nights a week. But alas, sooner later all good things must come to an end and I was short changed by one of my club bosses and I quit and they retaliated by firing me from my bread and butter club job. (more on that topic another time) That and a crappy apartment with a terrible smell ended my first adventure in Melbourne. I moved back to the country for two whole tortuous years.
I went to live with my mum and my younger sister. Allow me to paint a picture. Hormonally, my mum was sliding into the Pause (Menopause) and my younger sister was at the beginning. It was like Michael Jackson’s Black and White album ear and I had to sit her down and explain Michael Jackson was really black. Can you imagine how that conversation went?
So, I was living way out in the country, wood fires for heat, dirt roads, didn’t drive, had to go for a twenty-minute car ride to get to town where twice a day (once at 6am so that doesn’t count) there is a V-Line bus that takes you to other towns and the train to Melbourne.
This was (I refer to it as) mosaic phase. I got active again, did some market stalls (didn’t make money/didn’t break even) and because seemingly music was still the same in my country town, I grew up in had not changed at all.
I proceeded to attempt to start an Under-Age Music Club. I registered it, I got a bit of a group together to do all the things and promoted it to the High Schools through my old contacts and network.
There was a music shop in town that had been there from when I had been a teenager and the owner would be visited by anyone returning from wherever it was they had escaped to.
I had hoped to get some space to run said club from and while I had some contacts and I made some noise. It never got up and running.
It didn’t close away an opposition music store coming to town (which made the music shop owner very happy) but didn’t change the music culture of well anything. After two years of trying to make stuff work living in the country.
(if you don’t drive, don’t go to the pub to drink to socialize and don’t drive a ute) or work there is nothing more there for you and every few months I’d train back to Melbourne to visit all my people, go clubbing and stay each night at a different person’s house (just friends).
It was time to get back to life in Melbourne, I was effectively made to feel I’d overstayed my welcome at my mum’s and I found a way to go back to the city, which I’ve always felt was my true home.
I rented a tiny room in Hawthorn (the east) with a male friend of the family (through my older sister) and only had a few things for a while, where I did a business course to start my own business. I got back into the club scene however, not as a job. After six months of attempting to rent on the south side and starting my own business, ‘to take over the world’ (splutter, cough) I moved to the north side.
I’ve been here ever since. I think my south side era is over. It’s not like Chapel Street Prahran stayed super awesome anyway.
Last time I visited that neighbourhood, I recognised a familiar face while standing waiting for some traffic lights. He must have thought I looked familiar too, although in a different way, because he asked ‘Did we have sex?’ Um, call me crazy (dare you) however I subscribe to the ‘if we have sex I would remember’ and you would remember my name.
I, of course said no, but not rudely. Kept walking and about two minutes later, I remembered his name, that he worked bar on the second floor at one of the clubs I worked for and that I made a special effort when distributing Brunswick Street, Fitzroy on a Wednesday to time my run to get to the café he worked at, as his day job so he could have a coffee with me.
To be clear, he was mouthy to stoned to turn up to work on time, but I’m just saying my brain injury has not affected my memory.
If you have been in Melbourne long enough you will recognise the banter and throwing shade (need a different term, gentle teasing) about which side of the Yarra people chose to live on.
I was recently on the phone to someone and I indicated to him, while I’ve moved further north (into an unnamed suburb I won’t mention) and I’m on the border of a street I always said I would not live beyond. He responded on the phone that he had told his wife he couldn’t live north of the Yarra because he had nothing to go with a bullet proof vest.
I laughed but hey SLAP.
In Australia, we thankfully don’t have gun violence like in America (I do have a few American regular followers) and sadly, one happened on Hoddle Street on the north side of town.
I remember when it was on the news. I was (how old was Helen?) again, I’m sure to circle back to this topic, stay tuned.