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Inner urban conservation and development - An independent panel report on a proposal for Smith Street, Collingwood, under Melbourne 2030. Edited by Miles Lewis, August 2004. Order your copy

What does Smith Street mean for you?

1 Apr 2005

Smith Street has a long and chequered history. What does Smith Street mean for you?

Posted by Author zee


From Editor on 30 Jun 2004:

Here is a comment from Luis Bayonas, a painter and writer who penned Australian life in his Penguin and AWGIE award-winning television scripts for Homicide, A Country Practice, GP and The Flying Doctors. Although he now lives three hours out of Melbourne, he comes to Smith Street regularly for the music and street life. World-travelled, he claims Smith Street as one of the most interesting streets in the world:

Smith Street is one of the signature landmarks of Melbourne. It emanates a flavour of freedom, of progress, of universality � something that comes from function, harmony and the flow of the years; something very hard to achieve and very easy to lose by thoughtless town planning. The other night I bumped into a group of young New Yorkers on Smith Street. I asked, �What brings you guys here?�. They said, �The music, the people, the feeling.� �The feeling of what?� I asked. It took them a while to come up with a word. Finally they settled on �the feeling of integrity�.

From Editor on 30 Jun 2004:

Here is a comment from Barry Dickens � whose work as an author, journalist, playwright and artist has centred on issues of social justice, community and the tragi-comic nature of modern life. In June he had a sell-out exhibition, Smith Street Drawings, at the William Mora Galleries in Richmond:

Since I came to love and loathe Smith Street, spiteful is how I felt as well as spatially protective of its odours and enticements � such is her extraordinary life. I�ve wanted to draw some dramatic cartoons of Smith Street to immortalise hungover bisexual butchers, sexually niaeve fruiterers, alcoholic school teachers, frontal lobotomised barbers, human wheelchairs and lonely junkies whose eyes look like vandalised factory windows.

For thirty years I�ve been appalled and uplifted by a really passionate desire to make drawings of Smith Street that are transitions from misery into ecstasy and homelessness into paradise on earth. Poverty is seldom drawn or painted because it is so ugly and charmless, but I�ve wanted to venture into Hell and study the kids there � to draw faith from a wonderful unrecognisable spirit of irony and an incredible will to laugh and satirise everything that symbolises destruction.

From Justina on 1 Jul 2004:

We live a block away from Smith, on the Fitzroy side.

On Saturdays, during the day, we like to do the "Smith Street Shuffle". That means just wandering down to Smith Street, getting some coffee, doing practical shopping, looking at things and perhaps run into a friend or a shopkeeper we've become friends with. Then we just shuffle back home feeling quite satisfied.

Not sure what it is about Smithy. It's grim and wonderful at the same time. Brunswick Street is too uncomfortable.

We travel abit. When we're interstate or overseas and considering escape from Melbourne, we ALWAYS think.. 'yeah, but we'd really miss Smith Street'.

From Chris Smith on 5 Aug 2004:

Smith St - A Little History from a family member

I have been living in the inner city (a refugee from the suburbs) for the past 30 years.
In the 1970's I lived a block from Lygon St. In those days, Lygon St had 'the flavour'. There was still a supermarket, a milkbar, and a couple of good deli's. It was possible to do your shopping with a combination of the Vic Market and Lygon St. But the developers moved in, blocks were knocked down, the supermarket transmogrified into an upmarket deli and wine shop, the milkbar moved on, and my favourite deli owner retired. Soon it was all hairdressers, cafes and upmarket clothing stores. Art and life were banished from the street.
In the 1980's I lived a block from Brunswick St. In those days, Brunswick St had 'the flavour'. There was still a supermarket, a milkbar, and a couple of good deli's. It was possible to do your shopping with a combination of the Vic Market and Brunswick St. But the developers moved in, blocks were knocked down, the supermarket transmogrified into an upmarket deli and wine shop, the milkbar moved on, and my favourite deli owners retired. Soon it was all hairdressers, cafes and upmarket clothing stores. Art and life were banished from the street.
In the 1990's I have been living a block from Smith St...

From Brooke on 24 Jul 2005:

I love Smith Street, it will be my home whether I live in the area or not. The council doesn't need to clean it up! I love the Koori's congregating on street corners, the buskers outside safeway and the varied faces I see there everyday. The only thing that is disgusting, the new TAB, get rid of the montrosity.

From jc on 27 Jul 2005:

Agree - the new TAB is terrible. An abomination. An abdomen smack bang in the busy practical part of the street. Like that Mastermind game goes: wrong colour, wrong place!

Remember the Asian grocery that occupied the site beforehand, the one that burnt down one night? Ah, we miss that place. We really loved shopping there, all the cluttered isles and boxes of vegetables spilling out into the street.

We keep an empty tin of MSG that still has the price sticker from that shop. It makes us smile melancholically to remember it.


Oh we miss that grocery shop and the smiling-faced shopkeeper.

From Simon on 8 Aug 2005:

To me Smith Street means a place I could never afford to live. As much as I like the idea of living within 5km of the city I am simply forced to live 30ks plus from Melbourne through financial necessity. I'm not sure how anyone could claim smith st is "diverse" when a regular family could never afford to live there.

From aarmel on 11 Aug 2005:

Are you talking about buying or renting?

Renting would be about the same as having a mortgage. or less.

From nick on 17 Aug 2005:

i live near collingwood, and earn less than 23k/year, and i manage with my partner (who earns only marginally more) to live here quite comfortably, in a three bedroom house & small backyard.

people just get comfy in the suburbs... get used to a pool room, tv room, a larger backyard... and driving. what a perfect way to escape.

From aarmel on 14 Nov 2005:

"There is a terribly narrow viewpoint being put forth here. That the street should only be developed to suit the tastes of certain demographics. Or are the patrons of the (rather popular) TAB not people you lot feel any sort of affinity with?"
It isnt the patrons of a TAB that is a problem but the TAB itself. Bit like pokies in pubs. It has nothing to do with the patrons but like pokies in pubs, it sucks. So are you all for promoting gambling, pokies and TAB's everywhere?

"Nor is it maintained for you lot to proclaim some sort of 'integrity' or authenticity by association - who cares about the opinions of some American tourists. Keep that cultural cringe going, Ed."

Well thats debateable. Seeing as we live here, isnt upto the community to try and regulate itself and say what we want. Or is that upto big business and developers?

Are you saying that you dont care what sort of developments they do and how they do it?

From aarmel on 16 Nov 2005:

quote:"Can you separate the venue from the patrons?"
Of course you can.

quote:"My point was that it appears you wish to maintain your environs to provide anthropological studies or to achieve some 'integrity' by association."
Isnt that a bit of a paranoid cynical view? If a bunch of people didnt particular want strip joints and brothels lining the street you could use the same arugment. Just because some locals enjoy a facility doesnt mean its good for them or good for the community. Now especially when there are many much more benefitial and practical facilities that could be built there. Especially if you take into account the numerous pubs around that could run a TAB facility.

If its integerity by association, by supporting keeping the TAB and cultural cringe arnt you trying to achieve some kind of 'integrity' by association trying to appear to support the hard honest working man crowd.

The only difference is the views on what would be more benefictial for the street, community and asthetics.

From aarmel on 21 Nov 2005:

"Endorse the TAB? read my post again."

Initially you stated to keep the cultrual cringe going and people complaining were yuppies just trying to promote their certain taste of demographics which didnt include the TAB crowd.

As for sterotypes, everyone should know what I mean when I say 'honest working man crowd' its used enough and it isnt a derogatory term either, which can be applied to a rather broad demographic.

So you dont actually endorse the TAB and would rather it be gone? you just have a problem with the reasoning behind peoples dislike of the TAB?

From Editor on 12 Dec 2005:

Unfortunatly, as we were deleting spam that had appeared as comments to this site two legitimate comments were deleted as well. Apologies for any inconvenience...

From dfg on 13 Dec 2005:

How convenient...
Surely, only a coincidence that the posts were mine.
No allowed to rock the boat, are we.

Aarmel, do you really need the protection of the Editor?

From Shaun on 20 Dec 2005:

I have recently moved to smith street and find it a great place to live. I would be interested in seeing some areas of it being doneup but only if the existing buildings where done up must all development be new development surely their can be someway of maintaining the existing street scape and feel odf the area without demolishing the existing buildings and building huge towers.

Please do not do what safeway have done and distory a building to turn it into a carpark. This is a community and I am afraid that it will be ruined and become Prahn.

From Editor on 21 Dec 2005:

DFG, actually it was a legitimate mistake... you are welcome to post your comments again. We don't do censorship here unless someone starts threatening violence and/or becomes abusive to the point where open discussion becomes retarded by it.

From dfg on 3 Mar 2006:

I guess I'll accept that.

I haven't seen any posts threatening violence or even much abusiveness. Mainly, all I see is blithe stagnation. Lost interest have we all?

Back to Aarmel:
Where do you live? Not in the environs of Smith st, I would gather.
[Probably cruising around on a horrid little CBR-Babyblade]
So what is your agenda here?

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