Soundtrack: Hmmm might have to think about that a bit…
ok, Dire Straits, Walk of Life
So here I am, back in Melbourne for a couple of special family birthdays, to catch up with some amazing friends, and for Christmas, so I thought I’d better show you around. The image above is of the Yarra River (the only river in Australia that used to run upside down, but it’s much cleaner these days) and the spires of the CBD. The City of Melbourne is located on the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people. I was so proud to be able to buy my nephew a beautifully illustrated children’s book, produced by the Wurundjeri people called, Welcome to Country (Black Dog Books, 2016). I hope with his multi-ethnic background he can grow to be a custodian of his land, the land cared for today and over thousands of years by the Wurundjeri.
I bought the book on my first nostalgic stop at The State Library of Victoria. When I was finishing high school I used to come here to study. Truth be known it was more that in the building I felt smarter, and it seemed so grown up to be pretending to study and drinking coffee in the cafe of what was then the Museum. Today renovations have made a magnificent space for researchers and visitors alike, the light, the atmosphere, it still makes me feel more learned, more wise. You can inhale the journey of knowledge. I wished I had some Foucault or better yet, some Australian female philosopher to imbibe slowly, clearly my subconscious was thinking of Michelle Boulous Walker. But instead I sat back, breathed slowly and let the learning seep in the pores of my skin, let my mind wander up the layers of shelves to the enlightenment of the dome.
“To slide into the domed reading room at ten each morning, specially in summer, off the hot street outside, was a sensation as delicious as dropping into the water off the concrete edge of the Fitzroy Baths” Helen Garner
It’s worth a visit for the architecture, the ambience, and for the permanent displays of Victorian history and rare parts of the collection.
I’ve had beautiful weather down here, and I totally do not miss Brisbane’s humidity! But nothing stays the same. Fitzroy St, St Kilda has de-gentrified badly, sadly. So many memories now all grimey and rough, The Espie closed, shuttered. But I suspect while humans like sugar, nothing will ever change Ackland Street cake shops!
Or sitting with a cocktail, trying to look clever again reading, but really people watching at the end of a hot day.
I’ve lost track a bit of what I did which day. But one evening, maybe after the daiquiris I think, I caught the tram up into Melbourne from St Kilda. One thing you need to know about staid old Melbourne is that laneway culture thrives. You only find it by accident, by a local sharing their knowledge, or these days by blessed i-goggle. Not much point buying a printed laneway guide as things change to fast. Melbourne invented pop-up restaurants and bars long before the rest of the world. Although here they’re more pop-down into a basement, down a grungey lane, under the grime and graffiti into a mystery world where white rabbits in top hats would feel quite at home indulging in incredible cuisine, wild design and crazy philosophy.
So you duck behind St Pauls, and head up Flinders Lane into the heart of what was the Schmattes district of fabulous funky fashion. Do look up at the architecture, the windows and imagine small nimble fingers creating frocks made of silk all woven with dreams. Make sure the old Forum Theatre is always downhill of you.
Don’t choose your destination too soon, let it choose you as you wander and wonder up and down and round and a bout.
Dream big… the most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul of fire (Ferdinand Foch)…
But I had an idea that I knew where I was heading
Down AC/DC lane for a magnificent Peruvian meal. Just divine. Oh ceviche and the pisco sours and the heat of the kitchen!!
But I had to drive the tram back to St Kilda for the night, so…. well you’ll have to wait to see more Melbourne laneway delights tomorrow – I promise that there’s a lot more in store for those with imagination and sensible shoes.