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Melbourne and Inner City

Considering Australian roads are so organized, people obeying road rules etc etc., I'm amazed at the road rage that is so prevalent. People seem to be ready to boil over at the drop of a hat. No one wants to let you in or out of a lane and that includes the on ramps on the freeways. Some parts of freeways have lights to get you off the ramp and on the road. Amazing. Don't really know why they are calling freeways 'freeways' as they are really just wider congested roads.

The other thing that I found quite amazing was the amount of instruction via signs, whether on the roads, sidewalks or beaches and parks. Do this, don't do that, be careful of this and that, no this that or the other, but nor this, that or the other... In one suburb I was crossing the road and noticed a yellow sign beneath my feet warning me to give way to cars. Lucky for the sign as I  surely would have walked straight into a car.

All this is probably due to the litigation possibilities, but it really does stir up an unrest in my psyche at just how willing we are to be steered in the directions we are needed to go.

Coming from Greece where chaotic driving is part and parcel of being on the roads, I find Greek drivers far more tolerant and ultimately more helpful on the roads. Greek drivers go with the flow, and are less likely to want blood through road rageous outbursts.

There may be more road rage in Australia, but the road toll is definitely down. That seems to be due to the ever present police presence on the roads and the much slower speed limits.

There's a law for everything in Australia. It's illegal to text or speak on your mobile (cell) when you're crossing the road or driving in your car (both good laws), it's illegal to j-walk, I'm surprised it's not illegal to change your socks and shoes in public.

Melbourne may not have the glitz and glamour of Sydney with it's Opera house, harbour bridge and bays, but it does have a very strong cultural presence. The surface of the city doesn't always show the interesting life beneath. Arts, music, theatre and an underground of talent that is quite awe inspiring.

This trip, I felt like a complete stranger to the city. I barely recognized the cityscape anymore. So much has changed. The skyline has much increased with new buildings going up everywhere. Some impressive, some really quite bad.

Melbourne has become a busy and buzzing city over the past decade or so. I remember when I used to return after a visit to Greece in the 90's, Melbourne seemed like a country town. Not any more. It's really holding it's own in terms of a viable city, and with that obviously come the stresses. Tree lined streets have always set Melbourne city apart from other cities. It's old architecture though is disappearing with every blink of an eye. A shame really. Some beautiful old buildings have gone under in order for new architecture to dominate.

Above - I'm sure someone thought this wooden mosque sculpture was a good idea.

Melbourne has always been a melting pot for many cultures living together, but this time I have noticed a significant increase in the diversity of it's people. I've also noticed that there seems to be no end to the political correctness, as there is always someone to offend or exclude and something that should be reigned in so that no one is put out or offended. Public notice signs are translated into many languages, but not German, maybe I should have complained. There was no Dutch either... See you just can't include everyone. How much can a sign post hold anyway.

Living on an island has changed my sensibilities. I always considered myself a city person, but not anymore. The city and all the choices, quite overwhelmed me. Life and it's excesses. A far cry from the wanting of island life where choices are almost non existent and the simple things are not only free, but more important than those things you can buy.

If you want a reason as to why the world is in an economic crisis, then you need only look at the over-consumption in our lives. There is so much waste. No wonder there is a big exodus into the country as people reconcile themselves to living better lives by respecting and endeavouring to respect our fragile earth.

Melbourne city and suburbs span around 1.5 hours in each direction from the city center. Australia burbs are based on the US style, and as in the US, the Australian dream is to own your own house. Where? The suburbs of course. And as housing close to the city becomes more and more unaffordable, suburbs developed on swamp lands and flatlands become the new dream areas.

It was windy and cold, but that didn't deter the beach goers and water lovers on the St. Kilda strip. Melbournians are used to the chilly waters that come from the south.

My old haunts around Melbourne were Brunswick and Smith streets in Fitzroy, High Street in Northcote, Chapel Street in Prahran (before it became trendy, and that's giving away my age) and Sydney Road from city to Brunswick. These areas haven't changed too much over the years. Brunswick Street was a buzzing street with many venues during the 80's and 90's, but with no smoking laws and electronica, one venue closed after another, leaving the Melbourne music scene to reinvent itself again. I wouldn't even know where to look for it now.

December 2012 - January 2013

Leaving Ithaki     South Gippsland 1 2 3 4     Melbourne and Inner city     Coastal     Return to ithaki

Above - Flinders Street Station. A Melbourne icon.

How much stuff do we need to buy for Christmas. It's a run on everything as Christmas Day draws near. It's Christmas mania.

Above - Punt Road at night. The skies were stormy and threatening to rain.

Above - Jessica and her sister Allison catch up in Northcote at the Wesley Ann hotel.


Above - The Tote. One of the venues my band used to play since the 80's. Collingwood hasn't changed too much over the years.


St. Kilda is home to Luna Park and to Ackland street where you'll find the best cakes and cafes in Melbourne. It's also home to a long stretch of beach with swimming, boating and sailing for locals and others.

Above - The Palaise Theatre. The last performer I saw here was PJ Harvey. That was quite a few years ago.

The Docklands was the poor part of town, but not anymore. Now the Docklands means million dollar apartments.

Sundays at the Victoria Market in the city was a ritual for me when I still lived in Melbourne. Another ritual was a bag of doughnuts from the van and a weisswurst from the deli section. I expected to see more buskers and street performers, but seems everyone's going professional.

Although Melbourne appears more vibrant than ever before to me, there also seems to be an underlying darkness about the place. People seem suspcious and judgemental without uttering a word. Guess I've been living on Ithaki too long. Expecting a friendly wave instead of 'the finger'. Having said that, I still believe that it's one of the best cities in the world to live in, and were I to move away from Ithaki, it would definitely be my choice for finding a lifestyle that I could afford and still enjoy.

I love the diversity of cultures, the amazing choice of food because of the many cultures, I love that Melbourne isn't Sydney, but people still love living here and that Epiphany is as big in Frankston as it is in Athens because Melbourne has the 3rd largest Greek population in the world.


Leaving Ithaki     South Gippsland 1 2 3 4     Melbourne and Inner city     Coastal     Return to ithaki