In all honesty, I didn’t do any research before going to Australia. My friend sent me a message about how we should meet up in Australia, and I said yes. I bought a plane ticket, I reached out to my few Aussie, and Tassie friends, they hooked me up with places to stay and recommendations and then that was it. My friend Lisa did much of the research on what to do and where to stay. I felt like after spending six months in China that a trip to Australia was going to be so easy- and I was so right.
I’m happy Lisa put more into it because without Lisa’s research we may never have stayed in what I consider the best part of Melbourne. St. Kilda is a little distance from the center of the city, but worth the commute. It felt like a place completely separate from Melbourne, which I imagine it is to some extent. I’ve already mentioned that I liked Melbourne, and there were many great parts of the city, but St. Kilda was my favorite.
It wasn’t just because of this creepy fun park with the nightmarish clown mouth that you walk into, Sydney also had a Luna Park, but it helped with the setting. I had heard from some people that St. Kilda was once a pretty aggressive area. It makes me think of Dog Town when Southern California beach towns were tough and surfers weren’t the pretty groomed boys and girls of the magazines, but actually more gang like and territorial. I don’t know if that’s really what it was like, but you can tell that it’s still a little rough around the edges. I personally like that; the rough around the edges part. I tend to think rough around the edges is another way of saying creative and edgy.
No one wants to live in a place where they feel unsafe, but you also don’t want everything to look like the cookie cutter idea of happiness. I think you always need a little bit of wild to remind yourself that life is unpredictable and chaotic; everything else is just a facade. I guess to be more specific, once money and image comes into a neighborhood the rules and regulations get tighter. That once awesome muralist that would paint amazing paintings on the wall is suddenly a criminal, all because one person with more money moved into the neighborhood and doesn’t like the way it looks. Or the local market that would once give away food that was going to go bad to homeless people is suddenly fined because that new posh business that just moved into the neighborhood doesn’t like having homeless people around because it’s bad for business, or that local rock club that has been around for decades has to shut down because some real estate mogul has come in and bought up the property and wants to build condos for vacationers and he doesn’t care what happens to the local neighborhood because he doesn’t even live there, and so on. There’s still homelessness, there’s still crime (or new crimes have been created through new laws) you just can’t see any of it because they pushed it into another neighborhood. That’s what I mean about the facade.
I suspect St. Kilda will head the direction of tourist and vacation destination and price increases. I imagine it has already seen some price increases. It’s too bad it couldn’t stop right about where it is just floating between once rough and now up-in-coming that’s always the best time.
Judging by the architecture and some of the old photos of the area it was originally a pretty wealthy place, a fun palisade for the wealthier folk of Melbourne to come and visit for their summer holidays. But as happened to so many places at the turn of the century, it went from a Victorian playground for the rich to a red light district. Something happens and it falls into neglect and disrepair and eventually it becomes dangerous like Coney Island or Santa Cruz boardwalk. Those places were both scary in the 70’s and 80’s just watch The Warriors. All they wanted to do was make it back to Coney Island. Maybe it’s all just a crazy cycle.
One thing that we got to experience while we were there was the St. Kilda festival. Nine days of music and art. It doesn’t get more spectacular then that really. We watched several bands, and wandered into many galleries. To me music and art are basic fundamental parts of life just like food and shelter. We need it in order to really feel alive. We are nourished and then we express ourselves. If you really want to see what’s happening in a city check out the music and art scene. Is it exciting and new, refreshing, and surprising or is it something you can see on vevo or any manufactured pop scene?
I didn’t take many pictures of the bands, but I loved this colorful girl group that called themselves We Love the 90’s or something like that. I didn’t realize the 90’s were so bright and poppy, but maybe I wasn’t paying much attention back then.
And, of course we had to see some metal. We stayed about three nights in St. Kilda in a nice hotel just a few blocks from the beach. Even after we left and stayed in another part of town, I returned to take a final walk on the beach. I mean, just take a look at that sunset. It’s like it’s something straight out of a last days of summer motif.