Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Doing the block

Doing the block could be promenading along Elizabeth Street, left into Collins, left into Swanston and left into Bourke Street and left back into Elizabeth Street, if you turn the clock back to 1900 and you were wearing crinoline. You might divert via a shortcut through The Block Arcade or Royal Arcade.

Doing your block could be could be where you give your computer tower a swift kick in anger when the mother board conflicts with the hard drive and the sodding machine stops working.

But we did The Block in Dorcas Street, South Melbourne. No, we weren't one of those idiots among the 20,000 who tried to see inside the four houses. We checked it out the weekend before, just from the outside.

R has developed a marvellous technique for watching the renovation show The Block every night. Each night he records it and on Saturday or Sunday he spends about one and a half hours zapping through the week's worth of shows, killing the ads and the boring bits. Sunday night we both watch for the scoring and presentations of whatever they have done during the week.

While I thought the location was very close to us, Dorcas Street being a ten minute walk away, The Block is at the other end of Dorcas Street.  We decided to take the motor and have a check out.

The Block houses are four two storey joined but individual houses. Much to our surprise, the area was a flooded with curious onlookers, only there like us to take a look at the outside. One enterprising and somewhat hot Daddy popped his daughter up onto his shoulders with a camera in her hand to take snaps of a backyard over a fence.

The area was quite fine, with well maintained houses, most of them on the grand or at least the half decent side. We were seeing a lot of properties in the streets worth well over a million dollars.

 The eastern end house balcony. I never saw the space being utilised and it looks delightful for watching street goings on. Ok, I am one for sitting on a balcony and watching street goings on.

The back of the two eastern end houses. The left most fence panel blocks off what was a lane to access the properties from the rear with a car. That may have been a mistake to block it off.

I suppose they came and went all day. Why would people want to go to look at the exteriors of four unassuming houses....ah, yes, well. Jayne, note the chimneys. They are gorgeous. I cannot say the same for the roof. It was quite jarring against the chimneys.

There are prettier places in South Melbourne, like this one.

I don't where else in greater Melbourne than South Melbourne that still has a green 'walk' and a red 'don't walk'. Normally it is a red or green human figure.

You could call this a bastardised house, but it is quite well done.

The Star and Garter Hotel is almost opposite The Block houses but it is not what it used to be. Info RH? Might you have sipped a shandy there?

This very odd house sits on what would have the western end of the lane behind The Block houses. It is impossible to date beyond it being twentieth century.

This looking at The Block houses is hard work. We needed coffee. As sunny as it looks, the seats were in the shade and it was a tad chilly.


  1. I agree Kelly Adams did a really good impression of our Kylie in a recent episode of Hustle. Don't watch reality t.v. because they just aren't real at all :-).

  2. Windsmoke, very wise. Stick to well made shows like Hustle where you are not supposed to believe.

  3. That used to be my parents' best friends local pub, where they'd all go for a beer after shopping at the SM market.
    Many a time I sipped my fav Sarsparilla through a straw there while unsticking my feet from the carpet.
    Jimoin began his career there!
    Love the chimneys, blah at the roof, norty to block the laneway (may be agin to council/property access rights).

  4. Jayne, is there a better memory than a childhood Sars? Nice bit of extra info about Jimoin.

  5. I can't believe how bland they made those terrace houses look. Makes you appreciate how important all those little decorative details and individual flourishes are.

  6. Andrew I watch this show Sunday nights just to barrack for the brothers; the girls aren't much of a perv anyway, one of them has a grin like a horse. I was raised in dirty old Prahran but South Melbourne was similar and both have since been invaded by mediocrity.
    I've always hated beer; my father smelled like a brewery.

  7. Katya, wouldn't the basics of renovating a period property be respecting its history and original design? In my opinion, they could have just demolished the lot and started anew.

    RH, you just reminded me of the smell as you passed a hotel. It certainly was distinctive and not forgotten.

  8. There was the sour beer smell and enormous burst of chatter as you passed the door.

    Well that's another lane gone: SP bookie's office. I don't know if it was bluestone but they were where I grew up and most have gone. That's gentrification. It's an outrage. The goats who live in these mini palaces claim to respect history, meanwhile the bluestones ripped up from destroyed laneways make a nice little garden feature.

  9. I've never watched the block, nt even the advertisements for it. I usually get up and do something else while they're on or get busy with the computer or whatever book/puzzle I've got going. "Reality" shows just aren't my cup of tea.

  10. I do much the same as R, recording the program for replay minus the ads.

    I watched one episode in full the other day and counted exactly the same scene and almost identical commentary repeated four times. Talk about padding.

  11. RH, are you aware of a group in Coburg or Brunswick, I forget which, that is campaigning to save bluestone lanes, and stop them 'made over'?

    Mine either River, but if you are half seeing it, it does draw you in a bit.

    Victor, much as I feel. I would like that sort of show if it was tighter, rather than being strung out interminably. I heard a couple of days ago that The Voice was quite tight and not drawn out too much, but I didn't watch past the first night.

  12. Yes, I heard about that.

    A lot of bluestone lanes have been torn up around my old area of South Yarra and widened into streets, especially near the old Baptist church. The Baptist hall was a community centre for kids at night and on weekends entertainments were staged there for mainly an adult audience. A first ever RH performance took place there when five years old RH with blackened face ran onto the stage with other blackened faced kids and sang a song that's long disappeared from memory.

  13. I can't remember the Baptist church ever being used for religious services, it was a place for kids to play games and sometimes put on stage performances for adults. Adults performed as well, a bloke sang baritone on one occasion, we kids weren't impressed.

  14. I would say that is putting the church to good use.

  15. It was always a hall rather than a church. Do you know it? It's on the east side of Chapel Street, about halfway between Malvern Rd and Toorak Rd.

    That's putting a church to good use, you say? Well of course you would. No surprise.
    Others will say different. No surprise.
    Is it put to good use now, as a high-priced pretentious 'bar'?

    It's not that I couldn't afford to drink there, I just wouldn't lower myself.

  16. Ah yeah, we had a drink there once. It was nice sitting outside in the sun. Was called The Church and is now.....something Irish. Checked, Bridie O'Reilly's. Not been inside.

  17. We paid sixpence a night to be supervised for games. Waiting to go in one night we saw a bloke being strangled in the lane. "That's what booze does," said the supervisor, (or something like that). The only Irish pubs are in Ireland.