From Ithaki Greece to Victoria Australia - An ithacagreece.com trip
November and December 2006


Up and Away

Ithaca Society

IPS Lunch

City Central

The Shop Drop




Country Victoria




Melbourne suburbs stretch around 2 hours in the car in any direction you may travel from the city center, a little less to the west since the West Gate Bridge was erected. Building styles vary from the Victorian to the Vittorian (Star Trek reference) Red brick and blue stone, fibro and concrete houses of all different shapes and sizes line the wide streets as you get lost in the suburbs. Well organized traffic flows, pedestrian crossings, stop signs, household security systems, 'Beware of Dog' signs on front gates and Neighborhood Watches keep the suburbanites feeling safe from harm. The good neighborhoods have landscaped gardens and lush green lawns, the bad neighborhoods have car wrecks in the driveway and a Dole Cheque in the mailbox. The blue rinse set still dominate Toorak and the underground culture has moved to Spotswood, Brunswick and Thornbury, after Fitzroy went up market. Middle Melbourne heads to the outer suburbs, but Greek/Australians stick firm to Doncaster, the suburb renowned for its concrete gardens.
Victoria - The Garden State
Before the water restrictions
Adelaide is known for its churches, but Victoria runs a close second in the church stakes. Bell towers and steeples reach towards the heavens wherever you look as you drive through the inner suburbs of Melbourne. Commission high rise flats dominate the Collingwood skyline. Scary places to live in the best locations all around town - Kensington, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Abbotsford and Clifton Hill. Western suburbs have a bad reputation, northern suburbs have a good reputation. No one seems to have an opinion on eastern and southern suburbs. Inner suburbs are usually colourful and cosmopolitan and outer suburbs are said to be internationally void with a predominant white bread culture.

Port Melbourne, once one of the poorest inner suburbs of Melbourne, now accommodates lawyers, architects and business giants who dwell in the high rise city that has replaced the former workers cottages of the 19th and 20th century. Cigarette stains on the walls and curtains marked the dingy and desperate living conditions of those days, now, glass towers with sea views and security guards, password buzzers and valet parking make this inner suburb of Melbourne more sought after than Toorak, Melbournes' traditional 'upper class' burb.

Outer suburban Estates are a popular destination for the young couple who leave the city for a safer environment for the future family. Flatlands, once prone to flooding, become the suburban dream destination. Affordable new display homes tempt the dollars from the wage packet into the hands of the mortgage lenders. Dream on.

So what is Greeces' favourite Melbourne suburb? The answer is Doncaster.

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Red tiled roofs, brick veneer homes, gum trees and residential parking. double garages and driveways. A bin for paper, another for recycling and another still for garden cuttings. The suburbs are organized and mostly clean, and should you play your music too loud after 10pm, expect a Sergeant to knock at your door instructing you to keep the noise down. The quarter acre block defines the family boundary and neighbourhood disputes over just who should cut the branch overhanging the boundary fence, are resolved with mediation...or on one of the current affair programs which seem to thrive off this type of suburban fodder. The suburbs have a way of changing the characters of the people who move there, to fit the mould of what a person living in suburbia should be, without them realizing. That may be a good thing, a little like someone suffering from dementia not realizing he is demented. A possible blessing in disguise. In the bad suburbs, there's poverty, crime and drug dealing, and teenage girls who pop out babies like chocolate Smarties for a reasonably good social security cheque. Some suburbs have an Italian flavour, some a Greek flavour and some have German and Indian flavours. Asian flavoured suburbs weren't too popular 5 years ago, but now it seems that the Muslim flavour is more distasteful, so who knows which flavour will be out of favour in the next 5 years, and which suburbs will be on their way up after being down. Seems 'The lucky country' has a suburb to fit any ethnicity, budget or dream, unless your dream is to live on a Greek island.

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