My first visit to Melbourne was in August 2008 and I distinctly remember the drive from the Airport into the city centre. First impressions of Melbourne were not favourable at all. The motorway undulated across a bleak and flat landscape, peppered with run-down industrial zones and barren of any lush vegetation.
It was not until we reached the city centre that my response changed. The contrast between ultra-modern architecture and grand ornate Victorian architecture took my breath away. The ding-ding of the trams and the tree-lined Avenues evoked memories of some of my favourite European cities. The streets were awash with colour and people of various ethnicities. It felt exciting and cosmopolitan. We couldn’t wait to vacate our taxi and explore the Lanes, Streets and Boulevards of “Marvellous Melbourne”.
Wasting no time and armed with a shiny new guidebook we hit the sidewalks. When I saw the Arcades and Laneways I fell head over heels in love with Melbourne and immediately knew that this was the city of my dreams. Living in a city is like a marriage – you are either extremely happy and feel at one with your partner or you are extremely unhappy and want a divorce. I wanted to marry Melbourne and divorce Auckland. On the final day of our first visit to Melbourne, sitting at a cafe in Flinders Lane, I cried. I didn’t want to leave.
Stubbornly determined, we made the move to Melbourne on the 2nd of April 2015. I was finally a Melburnian and greedily threw myself into the culture, fashion and culinary delights of the city. I soon learned about the Tasmanians who founded the city, the famous Hoddle Grid and Gold Rush which funded the architectural marvels we see today but it wasn’t enough, my hunger to know more about Melbourne was insatiable. Walking the Streets of Melbourne I would constantly wonder – what happened here? who lived here? who designed this building? a continuous cacophony of who, what, why and where!
Needless to say that there is very little information related to the history of the city, if any, to be found on the Streets of Melbourne. One can be forgiven for thinking that the city couldn’t care less about the history of the city and in many cases it’s the truth. When I started my research for this book I was saddened to find that many landmarks had been demolished willy-nilly and it is still happening today. Something needed to change.
So what inspired me to write a book and start a blog ? Firstly, I want people to become aware of how important it is to treasure our history. Secondly, residents and visitors need to know about the rich history of our lovely city and thirdly, it is a labour of love – I adore Melbourne.
32 Blocks is based on the Hoddle Grid and/or the Central City Core of Melbourne, which consists of 32 City Blocks, I will be providing you with an account of what transpired, what was built, what was destroyed etc., on a block by block basis. So join me in my fabulous time machine and let’s revisit the past, present and future.