Monday, 14 May 2012

St. Kilda and Toorak

Have I mentioned before that this was a Phryne Fisher trip?  You'll have to accept that we dip in and out of reality pretty regularly at our house and Phryne's world is a popular escape.  I believe I made introductions here.

St. Kilda and Toorak are two Melbourne suburbs often mentioned in Greenwood's books. 

Bill had made a list of places to visit, and left it at home of course, but fortunately he could remember quite a bit as he reviewed maps of Melbourne and the free tram circled the city.

Lest you make the same error I did and say TOO-rack, I can tell you since Chris told me that it's actually something like 'Track'.  Given my struggles to pronounce 'chook' (chicken) properly - or perhaps Chris was playing with me, he does that sometimes - it's probably somewhere between Toorak and Track; Teh-RACK.   Whatever.

I noticed in hearing the place names on the train journey that Australian's muffle their vowels more than I do, but almost anyone swallows their vowels more than those of us with a Southern drawl.

I loved St. Kilda:  gorgeous houses with verandas, flats with balconies, all trimmed with lacy ironwork that reminds me so of New Orleans.  

Bill was continually astonished at the use of corrugated tin for roofing, even on quite substantial structures. 

St. Kilda was a Victoria seaside playground, perhaps similar to Whitley Bay near us.  If I were to live in Melbourne, I think I'd want to be located in St. Kilda, not necessarily overlooking the sea, but within a few blocks. 

As if.  The median house price there is $940K and $823K for a 'unit' (flat).

One thing that struck me was that on our way down to the seaside from the tram, we passed a man wearing a t-shirt with the slogan 'Eat the Rich'.  I was thinking this was a more violent take on Occupy Wall Street, but it turns out this is the name of a band, also of an Aerosmith album.  Who knew?

Toorak was another story.  The houses looked more like museums or office buildings than homes. 

I kept looking for the brass plaque identifying which country's embassy I was seeing, all surrounded by six to eight foot walls.  The houses were completely out of scale, being built to within a few feet of the lot boundary.  They made me imagine a life lived in air conditioned rooms, mincing across miles of marble.  Not my cup of tea. 

Wikepedia says that the name Toorak is synonymous with wealth and privilege, one of Australia's most expensive and prestigious suburbs.   If one walks through Nichols Hills in Oklahoma City the police come along and inquire about your business (I had a girlfriend who lived there); I kept waiting for the cops to come talk to us!   The internet gives a median house price of $2.6 million, but in the recent recession housing prices were tumbling.  Not at all surprising; one pays dearly for prestige.

However, there was one house in that area that we paid to enter, because we'd had a glimpse of it on TV the previous Friday night.  More about that next time...


BigLittleWolf said...

There is something very New Orleans in feel. Love these images. It seems such a foreign place to me - a mix of this and that, yet different.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about houses that look like museums. How could one ever get the "cozy" feeling you need from one?

Carolyn said...

Wow, I am interested that Brits and Americans have heard of the Phryne Fisher series! The books are favourites of mine, I have the whole series and have loved every one. The TV series is so visually luscious, isn't it?

Shelley said...

LBW - Yes, Australia is extremely foreign and yet quite familiar at the same time. Very strange. I get the New Orleans vibe as well, I think from the wrought iron (except I'm guessing this would be molded iron work instead).

Terri - Glad it's not just me. I should look for some real estate websites to steal a look inside (I learned a new word for that, btw) but I can't say I'm that interested.

Carolyn - You have no idea how envious I am that you get to watch those programmes. I'm trying to figure out who to lobby to get it aired in Britain - better yet, get the DVDs released to the Northern Hemisphere! Those programmes are just as you say - incredibly lush.

Anonymous said...

You are fun to travel with. I love looking at all these places and homes through your eyes. Funny about the Eat Rich T-shirt. Yes, who knew?

Shelley said...

Bliss - Thank you so much! That's one of the nicest compliments I've had in I don't know when. I'm really glad you're enjoying the Australia trip!

Boywilli said...

Dont be silly. Of course Phryne is real (or was, she would be 124 by now -- OMG Phryne must be dead by now! thats terrible