Month: May 2015

The strangeness of Royal Park

What is Royal Park?

This hefty chunk of parkland, north of North Melbourne, west of Carlton, has an identity crisis. It’s been set aside for public use since the 1840s. But the public has never known what to do with it.

The great parks and gardens of London, Paris and New York have a clear place in their city’s psyche; everyone knows them, and if they don’t go there, at least they know what they are for. Not so Royal Park. It’s the poor cousin of the Botanical Gardens, a place we think we value (if we think of it at all) but we are unsure why.

Over the years it’s been a place for grazing, a wilderness, a car park, a military base, a zoo, emergency housing, the site of sports complexes and hospitals. It’s housed murderers, it’s been called a ‘slum’ and a ‘plague spot’, it’s been the scene of angry protests. Continue reading

Layers of ghosts on Abbotsford Street

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m fascinated by ghostsigns – old painted signage, advertising products and businesses that often no longer exist. Melbourne has thousands of these signs, some of them still in excellent condition, others faded away almost to nothing. The ones I prefer tend to be the ones which offer up their secrets slowly – providing just a few clues as to their history, which can be decoded with a little patient investigation.

A classic example occurs on the wall of 445 Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne. Continue reading