Saturday, May 10, 2008

West Gate Bridge did fall down, did fall down, did fall down. My spooked lady.

It all started with an exploding boat. Who wants an exploding boat? Not me.

I put on a grave face, a la newsreader Ian Henderson as he reads a child abuse report, when I heard that the couple who were killed were from Toorak, while silently thinking wicked thoughts about the proletariat overthrowing the aristocracy by doing nothing and letting them destroy themselves with their own avarice, greed and conspicuous consumption.

They were refuelling their newly bought boat at Pier 35 on the Yarra River when the kaboom happened. Gotta be careful with petrol vapour. I think I knew that by about the age of ten.

Where is this Pier 35, I wondered. Online street directory did not explain.

A couple of weeks ago we had some very dirty rain to conclude our warm weather. The warm weather certainly has concluded. Heating is on every night and sometimes during the day. My car was reasonably clean until the dirty rain. Since then, the driver's window has gone up and down with a gritty sound. I could bear it no longer. I needed to wash the car.

What has an exploding boat owned by Toorak types got to do with my dirty car? Stay with me.

When looking for Pier 35 on the map, I spied some parkland on the western side of the river and almost under the West Gate Bridge. I want to see this parkland and my car needs washing and I like the car wash place in Kororoit Creek Road, and I could go to the Altona shopping centre to get a few things. I worked out my route, Kingsway, Westgate Bridge, Williamstown Road, Francis Street, Hawke Hyde St, Douglas Parade, North Road, Williamstown Road, Mason Street, Maddox Road, Kororoit Creek Road, Millers Road, Westgate Freeway and home.

It was a very interesting couple of hours. I have heard of Francis Street in Yarraville and the fools who move there and then complain about the truck traffic. Just like the people who move near an airport and then complain about the noise of the planes. Well, that is the theory, but until you actually experience Francis Street and the trucks, monster trucks and heaps of them, you have no idea. That such truck traffic can be allowed to travel along such a residential street is extraordinary. You won't hear a negative word from me about residents, new or old, who complain about trucks in Francis Street, Yarraville. It is just so so wrong.

Car wash successfully done, shopping done and quite a nice drive, but ah, yes, the park.

Well, it is obviously from the photo, the West Gate Bridge Memorial Park. I either vividly recall the front page picture in The Sun of the West Gate Bridge collapsing during its construction, or it is a since implanted memory. Regardless, it was a tragedy and some 35 workers died. Not your soft palmed Toorak types who have to wank for hours because they don't have any calluses and their foreskin was chopped, but mostly first generation Mediterranean immigrants who were just putting bread on the family table.

Some remedial work is being done on the bridge and so I think the memorial park is not what it ought to be. I could find no roll call or explanatory plaque. All to be seen was one of these sculptures for each dead person.

There were construction type workers hovering around, so it was also a bit intimidating to look very hard.

A bit further along a woman and her baby in a pram went by, just as I stepped out of the shadows and headed in the same direction. I could feel that she was aware of me behind her and no one else around. I could see her looking left and right casually, and trying to observe me and my intentions. I don't like being thought of as a man who by definition, is of course a potential rapist. I am not sure how our society has come to this, however, while I wasn't going to go out of my way and cross the road to nothingness to reassure her, I put on my reading glasses and pretended preoccupation with my phone and walked slower than normal so that she gained distance. Maybe I should have just said, Hi, how are you going, in a friendly manner and, I am just a nerd here taking photos of the park.......or maybe not.

Adjacent to the tiny West Gate Bridge Memorial Park is romantically named, Stony Creek Back Wash. It is an ever so natural square shaped lake with a nice walking bridge across it. Apart from the very static bird, it seemed totally devoid of any life. Maybe rumbling trucks on the bridge above, the petro chemical storage facilities and the dearth of native planting is not conducive to wildlife.

I am only guessing here, but the collapsed West Gate Bridge's concrete footings were left in situ as a memorial too.

Is this one of the footings of the bridge before it fell down?
The memorial sculptures, all 35 of them in a row.
The bird is not real. It did not move. It is just a sculpture.
The marvellous Scienceworks, aka the old Spotswood sewerage pumping station in the background.

An attempt at an arty photo.
Meaningless sculpture. I want labels.
City sky line, Port of Melbourne control tower and the ever so natural backwash.

Remedial work.


  1. I'm one of those crazy people who insists on living in town and then complains of neighbors and traffic. I can't help it; I want it both ways, for shame.

  2. Of course you should Daisy Jo. It is your home and important.

  3. They got those houses cheap because trucks roar past. Now they complain that trucks roar past. Getting it stopped will double their houses in value, straight away. (Golly, what a wise investment.)

    I think they should just move back to the eastern suburbs. What they bring here is their horror of boganry: dog shit and cigarette smoke.

    -And congestion: thousands of them crammed into new dogbox ap-a-a-artments (“I will NOT live in outer suburbia!”) .

    ha ha. Suckers, estate agent's toys. They do what they like with them.

  4. I call Koroit Creek Road 'Shit Creek Road'. Truly. It runs along the original shit creek.

    But where's Hawke Street. Do you mean Hyde Street?

    There's a Gay Street in Blackburn South.

    Oxford Street.
    (Until Tuesday)

  5. Well there's a photo in our local rag showing the anti-truck protest blocking traffic in Williamstown Road three weeks ago. The protestors comprise 30 adults and 70 children -quite a modern trend: dragging kids along for blackmail, and numbers of course. The photo's background shows a recent apa-a-a-rtment block at the corner of Francis Street -a terrifying structure, a horror- slapped up by developers to accomodate these latte freaks. That's their legacy, all around here. The liars. Poseurs.


  6. Robert, trucks travelling along residential streets like that should never have been allowed in the first place.

    I did mean Hyde Street. For some reason Hawke got implanted in my brain. I will correct it now, thanks. And Happy Moving Day.

  7. The woman I bought this house from twenty years ago told me she refused to sell it to Muslims -of which there are quite a lot around here. I've signed it over to my daughter -with instructions not to sell it to lattes, who are arriving here like flies around a foccacia. The funny thing is the Muslims despise the latte set as much as I do; I'd be glad if it's sold to them. Yarraville, and Francis Street in particular, was home to manual workers who understood that work involves noise dirt and stink. They chose to live there, as such folk do -along Francis Street, known as the Docklands Highway. These western suburbs have common examples where houses share space with industry, High Street Newport for example has dwellings down one side and oil storage tanks down the other. Should they get them removed? Everyone knows the West has a concentration of the worst most obnoxious industries, you like it or you lump it. Personally I don't care.

  8. I should also say that the DEFIANCE Flour Mills (near my place) is virtually in the backyards of a row of houses, towering over them, like an enraged feminist. ha ha. Dig that.

  9. When I was in secondary school(no, not quite as far back as the 17th century) we were shown the twisted girders and broken concrete from the WG Bridge collapse.They were supposed to be on perm. display at Monash Uni.
    That little pond is where a nasty murder took place in the 1800's and the ghost of the victim lurked about for a few years.
    Factories all around there often get injured birds (herons, storks,pelicans,etc)in their workshops and yards. The Spouse's mother was forever releasing cured birdlife at that pond thing.
    We really tried to release her there but the old bat fought tooth and nail....

  10. Anonymous10:49 am

    6 men also drowned there in the 1800's when the tunnel they were working in collapsed. It was part of that sewer pumping station. That whole area has been the scene of a lot of workplace deaths.

  11. It's certainly an excellent area for filming. I sympathise with residents in those areas. Trucks need to be on tracks.

  12. "Who wants an exploding boat?"

    Depends who's on it at the time...

  13. Hey cats, try this

    I found it when googling for defiance flour mills. It's a complete history of the western suburbs; thousands of words long, I've read less than half so far. It starts with the west being a basalt plain, created by volcano eruption, but I knew that, then it gets onto the Abos, bluestone quarrying, farms, buildings, roads, railways, shipping and so on. And listen, did you know that the main entry gates were removed fron the old Melbourne Eastern Market when it was demolished to make way for the Southern Cross Hotel in the early 1960s and were re-erected at the Altona Memorial Garden Cemetery?

    No. You did not. But that's where they are. So hurry down and have a look. And don't forget to buy a sausage at the hot dog stall I'm setting up there very soon. ha ha ha. Just kidding. But seriously, tourism has to make money. History has to make money. That's what it's for.

  14. Lol at last bit Jayne. Wonder what happened to the bits you describe?

    Yes Anon, I came across that when checking some details. Life was cheap back then. I get infuriated at people mocking present working safely laws. They are there for a very good reason.

    Brian, do we call it 'doing a Mountbatten'?

    All interesting stuff Robert. I will certainly check out the gates when next in the area. The Southern Cross is no kaput too.

  15. Thank you Andrew, and you're right, industry shouldn't be mixed with housing. Living in Francis Street would send me crazy (at last).

    Andrew you are a gentleman.

    And thank you for printing my little poem a while back. I don't remember which one it was, but it would have been amazing.

    Your pal,

  16. We also were taught from a young age about the petrol vapours... sad that this happened, I was at work at the time...

    Re the Yarraville stuff, I grew up around there, spent much time at an Aunt's place there. No one would have given yarraville or willi or altona a second look years ago, now there is alot of value there and I guess the residents want the trucks all gone. Hello! Those yards have been there for years. Still, no harm in banning them driving madly with their containers on the roads for a few hours each day.
    Westgate Bridge, I was going to post about the collapse in a history post one time, will have to look and see if it eventuated...can't remember. I do know my mum was pregnant with my brother at the time and heard the sound of the collapse from where she was in Williamstown at the time. Such tragedy, I think of it every single time I go over it, without fail!
    Re the mum walking the baby, if we all lived in the country then hello's would have been said, a recent trip to Stawell and Avoca to look at country properties found us saying hello, in a very friendly manner, to all the locals..even a wave from the car to a pedestrian. Things are so different in the big smoke, that is for sure.
    Great picture taking BTW Andrew :)

  17. Poem Robert? No idea.

    I don't recall that you posted about it Cazzie. That would be good. While not nice for your mother to hear it, imagine what it must have been like for those living very close by. Actually, on weekends, often local residents here when out for a walk will say hi to others obvious locals, especially when both parties are over a certain age. I might post about it.

  18. Well pardon me but a poet must push for opportunity to display his work. And indeed, he requires an agile mind -and body too, to dodge things thrown at him. So I admit to coyness -and opportunism, in this case. But have excellent excuse for it. In short, the poem I referred to has enormous relevance to coming events in your life. And so I reproduce it - without shame.


    (Counting to one hundred)

    Going on holiday
    Wish you well
    Hoping to see you
    Before I depart
    You know that old Baptist Church
    Chapel Street
    Now a bistro
    Awfully smart
    I'll be out the front
    Hoping to see you
    Rum and coke
    Trams going past.
    Out the front
    Hoping to see you
    -Hide and seek-
    Trams going past.

    The worst thing that happens is when OTHER POETS throw things at you, which has caused me once or twice to reconsider my career. But really, I can't help it, I must go on.
    And of course sometimes I get a little bit sentimental (nothing to do with the booze), but maintain my stance. Because the best things in life are true, and as an artist I've never written anything that wasn't. Or why would I bother.

  19. Schadenfreude.

    Yes, I learnt a new word today.

  20. That is nice Robert. Thank you.

    Marvellous word Ben. Seeing people getting parking tickets is my pleasure. But applying to what in the post?

  21. Pardon my lateness, but!

    Andrew, you wrote: "Meaningless sculpture. I want labels." But surely you gave it the best possible label? ;-)


  22. Hi Yahya. Lol, probably right.