Saturday, September 26, 2009

South Melbourne - a suburb of peaceful elegance

Breakfast in Emerald Hill

An early etching of the Emerald Hill Town Hall

I worked in South Melbourne about nine years ago - it’s a great part of Melbourne with a rich history and a diversified range of architecture. Like many suburbs of Melbourne it had many pubs or hotels, almost one on every corner especially as it spreads towards Port Melbourne but that’s another area and story for a later blog.

My view from the cafe window

Originally settled in the 1840s, it was named Emerald Hill during the gold rush days of Victoria.
South Melbourne’s civic centre is dominated by its huge town hall built in the 1880s grandly overlooking the suburb from Emerald Hill. Quietly sitting in the town hall’s shadows is a row either side of double story Victorian era terrace homes. As I walk beside the Town Hall to explore these homes, the trees are starting to blossom and the flower boxes on the second story windows are colours of spring.

Clarendon Street

The gothic style of the ANZ (Australia & New Zealand) bank

A short walk to the main thoroughfare brings you to Clarendon Street, the shopping or commercial district of South Melbourne with its range of cafes and restaurants.
It’s in the side street leading to Clarendon Street I stopped for coffee and toasted fruit bread for breakfast on my way to work.

Obviously a favourite with locals, the person serving coffee seemed to know each customer by first name. It was interesting to sit there with my book watching people come and go. I sat with a full view to the street where people were on their way to work. A young couple parted with a kiss as they went in opposite directions with their takeaway coffees.

Terrace houses beside the Town Hall
Colours of spring

But its her back streets that intrigue me more. Sometimes you’ll find what seems like a grand residence, yet if you look closely, a faded painted sign gives away the building’s past. The name of an old hotel or pub can be seen just slightly against the upper regions of the building.
The Shamrock Hotel, now commercial office building

Just a couple of blocks back from Clarendon Street is the South Melbourne market, a place where a wide range of produce can be purchased. Surrounding the market are interesting little shops and cafes that need exploring. One such shop has taken on the French term Brocante for the antique and junk flowing out of the front door.

South Melbourne has an feeling of relaxed elegance that needs more than just a quick breakfast stop on the way to work. Maybe I’ll take Sue there for breakfast this weekend to explore.

Australia's Kangaroo and Emu look down upon the shoppers of Emerald Hill

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