Sunday, July 26, 2009

Above the Verandas

Do you ever look above the shop fronts?
I do and I wonder why I haven’t hit the car in front.
Above the shop fronts, there is another world. Sometimes it shows you signs of the early history of the buildings, or shows the contrast between a modern street level and the original second level.
Many of our inner suburban strip shopping streets have evolved from the late 1800s through prosperous times, the depression and times of migration with enclaves of different nationalities.
One street that has fascinated me has always been Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
I decided that during a break during the working day, I'd park the car, not easy in this very busy area around lunch time and walk a small portion of Brunswick Street with my camera.

Fitzroy is actually one of Melbourne's first suburbs, in fact the oldest being proclaimed a borough in 1858. My early ancestor, George Sims arrived in the late 1800s at the age of 16 from London to make a new life for himself. Originally living in the inner city, he later moved to the Fitzroy area as did later generations of the family, the last being my father as a child. The life was particularly tough during the 1930s and 1940s.

I remember the rough times during the 60s when it was not a nice place to be when the sun went down. Towards the city end of Brunswick Street was the Rob Roy Hotel. It had a reputation as a bit of a blood bath of a drinking hole. Things started to change leading into the late 70s and then the 80s.
Today the street is vibrant with the Bohemia and trendy mixing with long term residents and the not so well-off.

The shops have a similar theme to the people in the street. Next to the community help centres for the poor could be a trendy boutique beer bar. Eclectic music and book shops snuggle up to pre-loved clothing stores and all manner of cuisine from the many cafes and restaurants.

Brunswick Street somehow, despite its buildings of peeling paint, graffiti and hotch-potch appearance, it oozes with a vibrancy that can’t be found outside the inner Melbourne district. It really is worth a walk down its three kilometer length.

Above the verandas is well worth a look in Brunswick Street.

For more information on Fitzroy's history and the day to day life within the suburb, go to the link below.


  1. Hi and thanks for the link! Would you like to contribute this post to the Fitzroy local news site? Over 150 local bloggers are already contributing. There’s no advertising and no exploitation of your content - just a convenient way for local people to read local news. To contribute please add suburb categories, tags or labels to all of your relevant posts, such as ‘Fitzroy’, ‘Brunswick’, etc and let me know you’ve done this. RSS feeds for these tags are created and added to the local news sites. You should find that syndication brings more traffic to your blog and more comments from readers!


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