Seeing my city with new eyes

One of the things about being away for any considerable length of time is the way that you view your own home once you return.  I came home to a house that was cleaner than I left it (ah, the joy of adult children!) and a recently-planted garden that is not only still alive but growing like topsy! But today was the first time that I’ve been into Melbourne itself, and I felt as if I were seeing it after a long absence.

It’s a beautiful clear, sunny but cold winter day today, and the city absolutely sparkled.  I don’t know if I just fluked it, but the trains both to and from the city were clean, warm and with little graffiti.  I had been opposed to the proposal to remove seats from the trains to provide more standing room, but having now used public transport in Toronto, Boston, New York and London, the carriages did seem particularly cluttered with seats.  There was little rubbish on the stations- in fact, our streets generally seem clean in comparison with streets in the cities above.   The underground stations in particular seemed light and modern. The trains were on time, the trams were predictable only in their unpredictability.

It’s the infrequency of our public transport that’s the sticking point.  Other cities do not have the same emphasis on time- in fact, you were often hardpressed to find a clock- because trains arrived so often that it didn’t really matter if you missed this one, because the next would soon arrive.  Not so for us here in Melbourne- 20 minutes is too long between day time services.  It seems that every tram and bus stop has a disconsolate little clutch of would-be passengers, stepping out onto the street, craning to see if something -anything- is coming.

And Melbourne itself: look- the Darebin and Merri creeks are running high! That sparse and artificial planting on the banks of the Merri, beside the over-engineered bike path, is looking a little better.  People have moved into the high-rise opposite Heidelberg station (although I’m still cross that it dominates the hill as much as it does).

I read in this morning’s paper that they’re thinking of moving the statue of  Bunjil the eagle in order to, no doubt, build yet another high-rise in Docklands. Other than Colonial/Telstra/Etihad stadium (which I always make a point of calling ‘Docklands Stadium’ on principle) I’ve only been down to Docklands once, and it seemed a particularly godforsaken place.

I noticed, too, that the building on the old CUB site is finally going up as well. This is the one that is planned to have an image of William Barak on it.

Artists impression of the finished building

I really don’t know quite what to think of these modern representations of aboriginal presence.  Appropriation? Acknowledgment? Tacky? Reverential? Is the CUB building a fitting juxtaposition to the Shrine of Remembrance at the other end of Swanston St/St. Kilda Rd?  Or an ironic one?

Most of all today, I noticed our beautiful, big bowl of sky.  Yes, I know that it’s the same sky,but somehow it seems bigger here. I think that I must be glad to be home.

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10 responses to “Seeing my city with new eyes

  1. One of the disadvantages of travel is that you miss out on the day to day trivia at home, and one such piece of trivia is that the CUB building facade has been dropped. I can’t immediately find anything online about it, but I am sure I saw it somewhere.

  2. residentjudge

    Really!?! I was looking at it today and thinking that they must be going to superimpose it onto it later because I couldn’t detect it at this stage (it seems to be about 1/2 way up maybe). How interesting. I wonder why

  3. I agree with you about calling it the Docklands Stadium and the lack of frequency of public transport!

  4. One of the great joys of coming home is seeing the very wide, beautifully tree lined boulevards (like St Kilda Rd and Royal Parade) with pollution-free trams running down the centre. It makes me feel that God is in her heaven and all is well with the (our) world.

    We also call Docklands Docklands, and Geelong Stadium is not to be renamed after some wanky insurance company or nasty bank.

    • I still call Geelong ‘Cardinia Park’- I hope that they haven’t changed the name of the park as well! At least Geelong has the REAL name of their ground in their song- unless they’ve changed that too??

  5. I think you totally fluked it with the trains, but am glad that you had a lovely trip into the city. Welcome home.

  6. Love this post …. so much to comment on but the main one that grabbed me was your last line. How I love our big blue Aussie skies!

  7. It is the bowl of the sky, the light on the water, and the ‘what the hell’ in the people, that you miss. I’m in NY, just been to Chicago and Cleveland, and yes I still miss those things from home. Be home by April…………

  8. So that is what that statue is! I think it the ugliest thing, partly because it is entirely inappropriately sited, and that whole Docklands site should be renamed West Melbourne Swamp, like it used to be.

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