psychogeography

London calling, Albert Park

When people settle in a new country, they employ various strategies to make themselves feel at home. The Anglo settlers of Melbourne in the 19th century tried giving the suburbs names from the old country like Richmond and Box Hill; they surrounded themselves with the names of  famous English poets in Elwood, where almost every street is named after the likes of Tennyson, Milton and Shelley, and writers of other nationalities (including Australian) hardly get a look in. Another way of creating the illusion of home is through architecture. Continue reading

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Footscray revisited

On 27 August I took a group of keen psychogeographers on a tour around Footscray as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival. The walk took in a number of my favourite locations – including ghost signs, street art, evidence of past lives and lost histories. The tour was an attempt to explore some of the many layers of this fascinating suburb, and to suggest ways that suburban locations can be the starting point for writing. Continue reading

Designs for living

After leaving St Kilda we headed north through the suburbs of West St Kilda and Middle Park. This part of town is mainly residential and middle class, and unlike many suburbs, you get the sense it really hasn’t changed that much over the years. It’s not just the architecture and the wide leafy streets that go to create the atmosphere and mood of a place. It’s the names you give the houses, the way they are decorated, even the style of the lettering. Continue reading

Spaghetti, coffee and drag: more from St Kilda

Continuing our walk through St Kilda, we turned up Fitzroy Street. For sheer quantity of stories, this is probably one of the richest streets in the Melbourne suburbs. As always, the stories that appeal to me begin with the traces of the past that can be read on the walls. Continue reading

Many-layered St Kilda (1)

Leaving Elwood, I headed north towards St Kilda, a suburb about which there are many legends, stories, songs (like ‘From St Kilda to King’s Cross’ by Paul Kelly) and TV shows (like ‘The Secret Life of Us’). It’s one of Melbourne’s most multilayered suburbs, and you can see ample evidence of its ups and downs as you walk through it. I’m no expert on St Kilda but I did live in the area for a few years in the early 90s so I have some sense of how things have changed. Continue reading