One of the pleasures of walking the suburbs is making unexpected connections. Sometimes it’s a ghostsign – like the ‘Dr Morse’ sign that I first noticed in North Melbourne, which popped up again in Fitzroy and on a cafe wall in Abbotsford. Sometimes an architectural feature – the ‘barley sugar’ columns that I was unaware of until I spotted them on 1930s flats in South Yarra now keep turning up everywhere. And sometimes it’s a person whose life I find myself intersecting with as I walk. Whether we realise it or not, a passage through the city is a succession of encounters with countless individuals, celebrated, notorious or unknown. Continue reading
So we left the strange lonely wastes of Royal Park, crossed Royal Parade and headed along College Crescent. To the right were the residential colleges of Melbourne University, but we took a left and walked into the Melbourne General Cemetery on Princes Hill, its entrance marked with Gothic lettering.
One of the first things you encounter is the Prime Ministers’ Garden, where the political leaders of Australia – alive and dead – are commemorated. Among the memorials is one for Harold Holt, who drowned in the surf in 1967 (or, if you prefer, was taken by a shark/aliens/the Chinese/the CIA). His headstone bears the defiant inscription ‘He loved the sea’. I suppose they couldn’t really use his supposed last words ‘Prime ministers don’t drown’. Continue reading
I find cemeteries fascinating. Every gravestone is a mini-narrative – a person’s life story in its most concise form, often no more than dates of birth and death and perhaps the name of a spouse or relative. If you are a writer looking for inspiration you could do worse than wander around a cemetery and let the tombstones be triggers for your imagination. Continue reading