Dame Elisabeth Murdoch’s famous garden at Cruden Farm on the Mornington Peninsula is open this Sunday. There is an entry charge, but knowing Dame E, that is probably going to some charity or other. She was always a keen gardener and planted most of the garden herself. She also had to bring up a family. “Run along down to the garden Rupert and write a story. Who knows, one day you may own a little newspaper just like daddy.” Now Dame E is no spring chicken and we can’t expect her to be with us forever, so I would urge those of you who have never visited Cruden Farm to give it strong consideration this weekend.
There is plenty of music to choose from this week. There are several important performance of Indian Classical Music which we will be trying to attend. And if you find the Indian classical tradition too cerebral there are a number of performances of ‘world music’ which are well suited to light listening including the Boite Winter Music Festival, Soweto Rhythms and Viva la Fiesta. The Viva la Fiesta from Cuba is also preceded by workshops, food and dance classes. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Music/Folk.asp
On Saturday a short season of Camelot commences at the Arts Centre. Details at; http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Events/TheatreM.asp
There are plenty of classical music performances this week. For more information you can subscribe tour classical music newsletter or go to: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Music/Classical.asp
Also on Monday at Melba Hal at Melbourne Uni is a performance by the Air Force Band. They have been a great institution for many years but I have heard a rumour that they may be soon disbanded because of cost cutting measures in the air force. I was going to try to verify this information until I remembered that email newsletters get much higher circulation if they publish unsubstantiated rumours than if they take the trouble of checking their information.
In the 1920s a large part of the inner suburbs in an arc from Richmond to Brunswick had become slums. In addition, a large part of Chinatown in the city was in a similar condition. In these suburbs, the cheap workers’ cottages had been built cheek by jowl and often straight onto the ground with no proper foundations. The streets were controlled by the likes of Snowy Cutmore and his ‘Richmond Push’ and Squizzy Taylor and his ‘Fitzroy Push’. Back then in these suburbs you could encounter men who were unemployed and unemployable, women of dubious virtue, narcotic substances, illegal gambling and gangland shootings. We would hasten to add for our overseas readers that things are quite different in these suburbs now – for instance the gambling is now legal.
Various proposals were put forward for “slum clearing” but it wasn’t until the 1950s that a scheme of building high rise Housing Commission towers with attractive cement and gravel facing got under way. Although this freed up space at ground level, it came with the social problems often associated with this sort of development around the world. Resistance to this style of public housing grew, and you can still find a plaque in Fitzroy marking the furthest point these Housing Commission Towers advanced before being stopped.
By the mid 1960s a few far-sighted people came up with an answer to slum clearance. Replace the word ‘slum’ with ‘renovator’s delight’. “I know we’re not used to selling house this way, but give it a try. These baby boomers are pushovers. They haven’t been through a depression so they think that an outside toilet is romantic and quaint. If there’s a lot of noise coming through the party wall, just remind them they’re in the communal age of Aquarius where everybody shares their lifestyle in a spirit of caring and lerve. There’s no need to pull out the tomato plants left by the previous Italian owners in the back yard because there are certain medicinal herbs that form a perfect companion planting hidden underneath the tomatoes. If they’re still wavering, tell them that Squizzy Taylor used to keep one of his mistresses in that house and they’ll pay another ten grand for it.”
And so the whole problem of rising damp, leaking drains, damage by tree roots and illegal wiring was passed from the public to the private sector by a simple change of wording. The pen is mightier than the bulldozer. If you get a chance to visit such a renovated house you will find a true Melbourne icon. Entry is from the verandah featuring a coach lamp (a heritage feature dating back to 1972) with a 100 watt bulb. On entry you will find that several walls have been knocked down leaving an island fireplace with decorative pine cones in the iron grill and impressive tiling and surrounds. “That Victorian fireplace is the main reason we bought the place – we fell in love with it. Careful you don’t catch your heels in the ducted heating grills.” In the next room you can admire the feature wall with the wallpaper that so fashionable in the 1980s as well as the Edwardian light switches and fittings (it’s marvelous what they can do with plastics nowadays).
As you proceed towards the back of the house you will find the fitout becomes more and more modern until the kitchen and sunroom area (together with indoor toilet) sits quite firmly in the 1990s. The open space and light makes it an ideal place for holding small community meetings about preserving the heritage and character of the suburb.
If you are interested in exploring some of the earlier styles of public housing you could start with Gordon House (as detailed several newsletters ago). Then you might like to walk around the Old Colonists Homes at Rushall Gardens in Clifton Hill. This early example of a retirement village was, like Gordon House, funded by the entrepreneur and philanthropist George Coppin, and stands up very well alongside modern examples. You might then want to examine Garden City in Port Melbourne which was built as low rise semi-detached housing in a garden environment. (Now you know the answer to our cab drivers’ quiz of several months ago – Where would you find Garden City and Rushall Gardens?)
In the meantime, there are plans to possibly sell off some of the housing commission highrise as apartments. “Listen mate. These Gen Ys are real pushovers. Tell them that the wallpaper is pre-retro retro. And the Laminex table is now a collector’s item and there are places where you can buy genuine 1960s light fittings. They’ve got the best views of any apartments in town and they’re close to public transport. If you tell them the sound through the wall is a young hip-hop band struggling to make a start they’ll pay an extra ten grand.”
KIDS & FAMILY This weekend there is a Fujitsu Racing Open Day with enough family activities to give dad an excuse to take the kids and behave like a sensitive new age petrol head. The RSPCA are holding an event called “You and Your New Horse”. I can’t remember the price, but if your daughter owns a horse what’s a few more dollars here or there. And for harassed mums there is a new production of “Mum’s the Word – Teenagers!” opening at the Comedy Theatre. Details of all these at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Lifestyle/Children.asp
For parents who would like some sort of guidance regarding the video games that kids have access to, ACMI have produced a parents’ guide to video game which can be downloaded at: http://www.acmi.net.au/games_resources.htm
MARKETS We have added computer swap meets to our market listings. This should be a heads-up to our female singles readers out there. In our experience, not many males who attend computer swap meets have girlfriends. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Victoria/Markets/MarketsV.asp
FOOD & WINE The Melbourne Winter Food & Wine Festival starts next Sunday as does the Darebin Music Feast which combines music and food. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Victoria/Other/FoodWine.asp
ENTERPRIZE DAY On August 30 1835, John Fawkner’s party aboard the schooner Enterprize disembarked near the site of the current Queen Street Bridge to commence the European settlement later known as Melbourne. This date has variously been celebrated over time as Melbourne’s ‘foundation day’. In recent times there has been an attempt by those uncomfortable with the concept of enterprise to rebadge Enterprize Day as Melbourne Day. Thus on Wednesday you will find numbers of official celebrations of this event. And at any of these that present a photo opportunity you are likely to find our cheerful mayor – happy to promote both Melbourne and enterprise. Details in the mainstream media.
FESTIVALS The Melbourne Writers Festival gets under way on Saturday. Details in The Age. There is a film festival based around people with disabilities called ‘The Other Film Festival’. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Festivals/Film.asp The Maltese Cultural Festival also starts this weekend. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Festivals/Ethnic.asp
FROM THE WHITE HAT INBOX
We had this personal message:
“hi from nat at leongatha. dads still mad that i spent the money for my car to go to uni on a kombi. craig came down to visit hes enjoying uni, he only came down cos I told him we didn’t have a stove & so crystal couldnt do one of her famous vegi bakes. the only people in the camping ground are what craig calls the SADs – See Australia and Die. we waited for the nitelife at the weekend but there were no clubs so we went back to he camping ground and were invited over by the SADs to their party. it was really groovy with gr8 food. i must learn 2 cook if i can find somewhere on the internet that teaches it. theyre not as daggy as i thought. theyre a generation older than my parents and so theyre interesting when u sit down & listen. luv nat.”
LAST CHANCE This Saturday is your last chance to catch big band jazz at the Copacabana in Smith Street. Details at: http://www.bsharpbigband.com.au/ It is also last chance to catch improvised comedy at the Impro Cave in Brunswick. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Events/ComedyM.asp
HISTORY & HERITAGE This week there is a session on “How to Produce a Local History Book” in North Melbourne. There is a seminar on how to use the Geelong Heritage Centre and a lecture called ‘Learning from the Suburban Dream’ at the Royal Society. “What’s that? Where’s the Royal Society? I told you about it several weeks ago as on of Melbourne’s Hidden Gems. Honestly. If you won’t pay attention I don’t know why I bother telling you any of these things.” You can find details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/Melbourne/Events/ForumsM.asp
COUNTRY VICTORIA This weekend there the Great Lakes Homeshow at Lakes Entrance. There is a performance of Carmen in Albury and a regional wine festival in Sunbury. There is also a Slow Food and Lifestyle in South Gippsland. I . . don’t know .. why . . they are having . . one of them . . slow lifestyle thingos . . here . . in South Gippsland. Details at: http://www.whitehat.com.au/victoria.asp
THE WHITE HAT QUIZ
First to the last quiz. We received a number of correct answers including these from Rob.
1. The giants Gog and Magog strike the hour in the Royal Arcade. How are they powered? Clockwork, powered by weights.
2. Outside a number of pubs in Melbourne you will find a metal or wooden trapdoor in the footpath. What is this for? For easily delivering full kegs of beer to the storage area in the cellars of the pubs.
3. Outside numbers of older city buildings you will find glass bricks in the footpath. What are these for? For allowing daylight to filter into the cellars beneath the buildings. (Jane also contributed “Originally designed for looking up ladies skirts from below it was discovered that theses 'windows' afforded a little natural light into an otherwise totally artificially lit environment and they were retained for this purpose.”)
4. Where would you find the motor on a cable tram? Somewhere else. Such vehicles operate by the tram gripping (or letting go of) a continuously moving cable that is driven from a separate motor room in an appropriate building along the cable line.
5. In what suburb are you likely to find your suburban greengrocer at 6am? In West Melbourne at the Melbourne Wholesale Fish, Fruit and Vegetable Market (542 Footscray Road, Melway Ref. Pg.2T, G 11 & 12)
6. For several decades people in Melbourne would watch the coloured light display on a prominent city building. What message were they receiving? The weather forecast. (At least, that's what it was doing on the T&G building in Perth where I grew up...)
7. The publican decides you have had too much to drink and as you are being escorted to the door a passing taxi pulls over as if by magic. The publican did use a phone. How did this happen? Well the wording of the question suggests that the publican phoned a taxi. However, since this doesn't seem to be all that magical, I suspect the wording was intended to be "did NOT use a phone", and I believe the answer would therefore be that the he flicked a switch to illuminate a light outside his premises that alerted passing taxis to the fare within, about to stagger without.
8. In the back lanes and alleys of inner Melbourne you will find many tiny doorways, usually now bricked up. This shows that the early inhabitants of Melbourne were much shorter than they are now. True or False?
False. This was probably the doorways used by the nightcart men to collect the night soil from the outside outhouses, which abutted the back fence adjacent to the laneway. The height and low positioning of the doorways was therefore less a function of accommodating inhabitant height than of responding to the effect gravity.
Thank you also for taking away four of my five weekly deliveries of the same newsletter. This current quiz attempt was fuelled by reading only the single newsletter. Perhaps reading the newsletter five times was clouding my capacity to answer, not helping as I was hoping it would.”
Now to this week’s quiz.
1. An inner suburban abattoir has been redeveloped as a medium density housing estate. What is the name of this area? 2. What is the name of Melbourne’s tallest apartment building? 3. In what estate do Kath & Kim live? 4. Name an estate purpose designed around a golf course. 5. What is the correct Melbourne pronunciation of North Melbourne and Footscray? 6. Melbourne has numbers of suburbs which have been given dubious marketing names. Although surrounded by scrubby paddocks they will probably be called xxxx Meadows. What is your nomination for the most inappropriately named suburb or development.
No prizes – just glory and a warm inner glow.