Thursday, December 20, 2012

A South Yarra Stroll Pt 2

I cheated on my walk. A tram arrived at Punt Road, so I hopped on and left at South Yarra Station. I walked down Yarra Street. From the Highrise, we watched this building rising. It looks quite nice in the distance.

How often I stood on Platform 6 waiting for the Pakenham train to go to Sister's at Murrumbeena where I would meet up with R after work and we would take Little Jo to the park. I watched workers beavering away on the construction site, purely from a technical construction aspect, of course.

There are walkways to go east towards Chapel Street, with ubiquitous cafes of course.

The slum residents of Daly Street in the early to mid twentieth century would scarcely recognise their street. The tower block on the left is known as Vogue and has a decent shopping centre at its base. It dominates the view from the Highrise.

The slum residents of Daly Street would certainly remember the tramway electric substation, now a frock shop called Le Louvre, transplanted from Collins Street. I must have crossed over Claremont Street without even noticing it. There was a nightclub in Claremont Street called The Warehouse, later called Salt. I recall cars queued in Toorak Road, blocking trams, while trying to turn into Claremont Street to go to the nightclub. While it did not happen on the premises, it was where some angst started between some patrons and resulted in a multiple murder, with some victims drowning in the nearby Yarra River. The commotion was witnessed by our estate agent who was selling our Balaclava house at the time and lived in a highrise on the corner of Chapel Street and Alexandra Avenue.

The Olsen is one of the Art Series Hotels, sprinkled around the inner south and east. The Blackman is close to the Highrise and we often go there to Depot de Pain for afternoon tea. Their coffee is superb. Another, The Cullen, is in Commercial Road, Prahran. All hotels are named after famous Australian artists and feature their works, or copies of them within.

Chapel Way, off Chapel Street. I have no idea where it leads, perhaps to the back of the  Como development. The whole eastern side of Chapel Street was once owned by Jack Chia, a property developer. His developer dreams of a little Venice, complete with canals, came to nothing. While not in this case, quite a bit of early Melbourne has been saved by developers dreams coming to nothing.

Old W class trams rattle and clatter along Chapel Street during the week. I was drinking a much needed cup of long black in the adjacent company of some quite rough acting tradies who were construction workers from a nearby building. I alternated between being disgusted by their crudeness and loud behaviour, and looking around for an appropriate wall to be slammed against while they had their wicked way with me. The foot traffic in this part of Chapel Street has to be seen to be believed, compared to a decade ago.

Ah, this would be where the tradies work. Upon completion, this building will block our view of Como and the Channel Ten tv station illuminated sign. So may highrise buildings have gone up in South Yarra, and hence the population has increased many fold. Each apartment will come with at least one car parking space. An already congested area has become even more congested, to the point where cars crawl along, with trams stuck among the traffic. South Yarra Station in the morning and evening peaks is so flooded with people, it can be almost impossible to navigate. The transfer of people to and from the trams and trains has to be seen to be believed. I like the theory of increasing inner city population density, but what is actually happening is overcrowding, of roads, footpaths and public transport.

The furniture retailer Freedom was located here, where we bought our dining suite. I read a little about Freedom lately and from memory, it is a privately owned company, not a public one, and the owners, a couple, own right up to the corner of Toorak Road.

Call this what you like, owned by the owners of Freedom. It was a cable tram engine house that ran the cables for Toorak Road and Chapel Street trams. After cable trams were replaced by electric trams, it became Capitol Bakery. I remember inside a skating rink, where Gay Skate was held, clothing shops, and a pinball parlour. Soda Rock was previously known as Johnny Rockets and before that, Soda Sisters, with another name which I have forgotten.
"I bought my first dope at the South Yarra Arms,
A whole matchbox full, in my hot little hands."

So the Skyhooks song went. South Yarra Arms has long gone, now Country Road and earlier, Sports Girl.

Will this building survive after the highrise construction has ended? I don't know, but I hope so.

I am walking back west along Toorak Road. I have never noticed this what is obviously once a car repair garage. The arched openings tell the story.  IGA is a grocery shop.

It is some time since the Longford Cinema closed. R and I saw a few movies there. Raymond Longford was a film director and obviously there was a connection to the Longford Cinema, but I am not so sure what it was. After I took the snap, my thoughts were broken by some loud and obnoxious type talking on his phone. I don't normally audibly swear, but I do in head my rather a lot. Who is that fucking obnoxious creep? I turned around and at an outdoor cafe table was Dermott Brereton. My opinion of him was reinforced. I recall a 'friend' who was a taxi driver and carried said Brereton. The friend, a thorough professional, ignored him, until Brereton asked, 'Do you know who I am?' Wanker.

Her Majesty's, known as Masies, a gay bar, when Toorak Road was a gay pick  up street. I recall a reference to the place by Graham Kennedy and on the tv show The Box.  For once the truth, I am too young to know about it, but an older resident of the Highrise described it to me. Men would park in the a dark place in the side streets and go for a stroll along Toorak Road and maybe meet a new friend and adjourn to their car 'for a chat'. Her Majesties is going to be turned into smart apartments. If you click on the photo to see it bigger, you might see a bust of Queen Victoria, along with a couple of pigeons.

The South Yarra Post Office, well it was until Australia Post decided it was not so important and did not need grand buildings.
This is the present South Yarra Post Office. As the grandeur of our post offices has diminished, so has the mail service.


  1. The inner south east is my stamping ground, yet I didn't know of the Art Series Hotels. They look, from The Olsen example, quite glamorous.

    The Blackman and The Cullen would be dead easy for me to get to, and would be especially enticing since those hotels are named after famous Australian artists! I would love to see what art they hold.

    Thank you!

    1. Hels, I know they have some original art works. Blackman was involved at the opening of the Blackman. This post might interest you.

  2. What an interesting trip through the neighborhood. And I thought I was the only one who remembered match boxes of dope.

    1. Rubye, absolutely no idea what you are talking about :-P

  3. Apparently these days those tins with mints make good receptacles. Apparently.

    1. Tins of mints sound ever so London, Fen.

  4. thanks for keeping me up to date with an area I used to know well. was that venue in Claremont Street called The Love Machine? (about 1979);
    the second last photo used to be the library in 1965. then a swish library was built on Cromwell & Surrey Rds corners. I still have my cardboard member card.
    The SY PO was a cream brick building on the corner of Powell St. South Yarra has always been rocking. x x

    1. I had forgotten that Ann, but yes, The Love Machine. I am wrong about the old SY PO then? I thought it was a PO in the eighties. I trust you, but I will follow it up.

  5. "Do you know who I am?"

    "No, sir, but we can find out at the local Police Station."

  6. Very entertaining walk Andrew, laughed out loud at the picture of you being thrown against the wall by a burly workman hahaha! I confess also to occasionally watching workmen beavering away, but as you say purely in an attempt to pick up a hints!!!

    1. Grace, the thought of rough trade might be interesting, but I expect just as ho hum as anyone else.


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