The lost names of Emerald Hill

The walls of South Melbourne (or Emerald Hill, as it was known in the later 19th century – one of Melbourne’s lost place names) are rich in memories: of people, occupations, products, social movements.  These painted signs, featuring other lost names, are an archive of the suburb’s history, visible in plain sight, though often overlooked. Continue reading

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Bank Street stroll

Leaving St Vincent Place we headed north along Montague Street, then turned right into Bank Street towards South Melbourne, a suburb in which much of the history has been carefully and consciously preserved.  If you’re looking for ghostsigns, this part of town is rich in them. You also pass a kaleidoscope of architectural styles in the space of a few blocks. Continue reading

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

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