Saturday, February 12, 2011

a flying visit to the land of trams and laneways

I am of course talking about Melbourne. During the last week of school holidays I made a last
minute decision to jump on a plane the next day with my daughter for a quick look see. I haven't
been to Melbourne for about a decade and I thought it would be fun to take Coco down there.
But the main reason for venturing south? I was curious how a 52 Suburbs Melbourne might be.

Tad ambitious in hindsight. We only had two days, most of which was taken up with kid-friendly
activities - eating in the laneways, riding the trams, and spending Australia Day wandering around
and watching the tennis on the enormous screens at Federation Square. 

In other words, we did the tourist thing. Precisely the opposite of what 52 Suburbs is all about.
We had fun but the upshot is I remain curious about Melbourne and its suburbs. 

A few snaps from our flying visit...

Part 1: Trams and lanes

Largest tram network in the world apparently. The lovely old green and cream W Class trams are
still around but their days may be numbered - despite being listed by the National Trust, there are
plans to phase them out by 2012.

Melbourne's laneways, on the other hand, aren't going anywhere. They sprouted up as a result of
the gold rush in the mid 1850s and are now one of the most celebrated tourist attractions; artists
are even paid by the City of Melbourne to make some of the lanes more appealing.   

the man with the golden shoes - Simon :: 1

the man with the golden shoes - Simon :: 2

hold on, I'm coming!

tram riders

coffee capital


good grub

 Part 2: Australia Day in Melbourne

National flags are such incredibly powerful symbols. As I write this, Egypt is celebrating the end of
the Mubarak era and the papers are filled with images of protesters proudly flying the Egyptian

I couldn't help wonder as we walked around Melbourne on Australia Day, if those who chose to cover
themselves with the Australian flag would still do so were it to be replaced. Would they, for example,
drape themselves in the Aboriginal flag?

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years/decades.

In the meantime, the familiar Union Jack colours as well as the green and gold were out and proud

in Melbourne this Australia Day, as they were no doubt all around the country.

to the stars


and he wore hot pants too

Claire and Gill, flying the Scottish flag too

Part 3: Froth and bubble

'Two things stand like stone. Kindness in another's trouble. Courage in your own.' So said Adam Gordon,

an Australian poet, jockey and politician, born in 1833. What you can't read on the monument
below is the first bit of the poem - 'Life is mostly froth and bubble'. 

some things last

Here's to making the most of our froth and bubble, as well as to kindness and courage. 


  1. I would very much like to see a 52 Suburbs Melbourne!! Having lvied ehre for ten eyars I can highly recommend the diversity of Melbourne's many suburbs and promise you a tour of my beloved Balaclava!

  2. I LOVE your photo stories and would so look forward to 52 suburbs in Melbourne!

  3. Yes please to 52 suburbs Melbourne. I lived there many years ago. I am looking forward to the release of your book in May.
    Cheers margo on Vancouver island

  4. I would also love a 52 suburbs for Melbourne! I will have been in Sydney for 12 months tomorrow, but I miss my old home! :)

  5. scream4noreason - Balaclava tour sounds fun! If I do it, I'll definitely take you up on that!

    Anon - Thanks for your vote.

    Margo - Thank you too.

    Cecilia - Well that's four votes!

    Thanks guys, like your enthusiasm.

    Louise x

  6. Pretty please do a series I would love you to do Hobart I think you would find it a very inspiring city as well.
    In other words "just keep em comin......."

  7. So funny - when I very first discovered 52 Suburbs, all those suburbs ago, I thought wow, this would work really well in Melbourne too!!

    You wouldn't even need a car. I lived there for 18 months and only used my car twice in that whole time (once to take my dog to the vet ((found out later that dogs are welcome on the trains!!)) and once to pick up some friends at the airport).

    I'm wildly enthusiastic about the idea of 52 Suburbs Melbourne, but to be honest, I think I'd follow you where ever you went!


  8. Hi Louise
    Yes yes yes. All of Australia really, but Melbourne first.We Sydneysiders would love to check out Melbourne through your eyes.
    Di xx

  9. objectsofwhimsy - I haven't been to Hobart since I was a kid but I hear it's changed enormously. Would be fun.

    Jodie - That's so lovely of you, thank you!

    Di - I just need to whip up ten or so parallel universes so I can be in ten places at once, doing the same project. Now that would be something.

    Louise x

  10. Sydney is my home town & I've loved every single post on this site, but my heart is in Darwin. Put that on your shortlist please!

  11. Monica - Darwin huh? Gets a bit/lot hot up there doesn't it?! I might melt.

    Ellen Charge - It was good to see your name pop up! Yep, Melbourne is pretty good. Look forward to visiting it again with more time up my sleeve.

    Louise x

  12. I love your blog and I'm looking forward to my copy of your book. But I have one tiny little question ... how do you go about asking people to take their photo. You get such amazing shots and it always intrigues me. Thanks.

    PS I so wish I lived in Sydney but I see your exhibition is on during May/June when I'm visiting so I'm definitely going to drop in.

  13. Susan

    I get asked that question a lot - which is why I talked about it a bit in my book introduction (!) but basically I find most people are fine if you just approach them calmly, explain what you're doing and that you'd love to take their photo. But it does get easier the more you do it for sure. Hope this helps.

    Glad you can come to the exhibition by the way. If you're around on the 14th May, that's when the book will be launched and the exhibition opened - and I'll be giving a little talk.