Month: December 2014

An appointment with Dr King

This essay was first published in Melbourne Subjective, an anthology of essays, fiction and poetry about Melbourne.

His name appeared at a construction site near the corner of Lonsdale and Russell Streets, Melbourne, in April 2013. The building on the corner had been demolished and the painted sign—hidden for many years—was exposed again, high on an adjacent wall at second storey level. Facing south down Russell Street, it proclaimed in large black capitals: ‘Consult celebrated specialist Dr King, MRCS. Consultation free.’

No address, no phone number. No hint about what kind of specialist Dr King was.

Perhaps other people wandering past that site, or standing at the pedestrian crossing waiting for the lights to change, looked up and wondered as I did: who was Dr King?  Continue reading

Suburban drift on Buckley Street

After travelling further north than I intended, I turned east before the so-called Melbourne Circle became a circuit of Bendigo.  I took a right at Buckley Street, a road that runs east-west from Avondale Heights to Essendon. It’s a journey of only a few kilometres, which we walked on a warm morning in December.  Buckley Street takes you through the established, middle-class suburbs of Essendon West, Aberfeldie, northernmost Moonee Ponds and into Essendon. Instead of writing an essay, this time I’ve used photos in an attempt to capture the essence of the street, its ordinariness, beauty and strangeness. Continue reading

Explosives on the Maribyrnong

Pushing across eastwards from the residential areas of Avondale Heights, I came to a small reserve, Canning Reserve, which leads to Steele Creek Reserve, revegetated with native species by the local friends of the creek. I walked through it on a hot day in November, with few other people around. At one point the reserve is quite elevated, and you have a good view across the Maribyrnong river to an area of abandoned, fenced off land, dotted with deserted brick buildings. To the east there’s a view of the city, some 10km distant. Nothing’s going on in the fenced off area, which is bordered by the Maribyrnong (formerly known as the Saltwater) to the north, east and west, and Cordite Street to the south.

That area of fenced-off land has been owned by the Department of Defence since 1908. Prior to that, it was known for horses – the Maribyrnong racecourse was there, and Fisher’s famous racing stables. Before that, for thousands of years it was the Wurrung country of the Woi Wurrung people. But within more recent memory it’s known as the location of an explosives factory. Continue reading