In this installment of Visual Diary, we take a look at editor Joana’s former stomping ground: the inner-west Melbourne suburb of Flemington.
When most people think of Flemington, they probably think of the racecourse and the (*ahem* disgraceful) race that stops a nation et al.
Melbournians, they might think of the brown housing commission flats that tower over Citylink to the west, or Laksa King (Zomato’s #1 spot for laksa!).
But when I think of Flemington—cue the cheese—I think of home.
I’ve never really felt a terribly strong affinity to the places I’ve lived. From childhood suburbs to the neighbourhoods I’ve called home as an adult, it’s generally been pretty easy to pick up and leave without a second thought (except when I was 17 and I sulked at my parents for months after we moved from Perth to Melbourne ... sorry Ma and Pa!).
I expected to feel much the same about Flemington. My now-husband and I moved there on a complete whim after our first and only post-sharehouse rental application was accepted within a day (lol remember how easy renting in Melbz used to be?).
Admittedly, it took me a little while to really feel Flemington. To be sure, it was no Fitzroy or Brunswick—not even a Thornbury, the neighbourhood from which we had emigrated, then rapidly gentrifying with niche watering holes and a surfeit of health food stores.
I was annoyed that, as a rat-run between Racecourse and Mt Alexander Roads, my otherwise appealing street was underscored by a soundtrack of too-fast cars’ bumpers scraping on speed humps.
I didn’t like how close my house was to the imposing commission flats, which I (very, very wrongly) considered a bit of a blight on an otherwise lovely neighbourhood.
But almost three years of life in that small, 1890-built, heritage-listed Victorian cottage later, I truly felt as though I had woven myself into the rich and vibrant community.
And that made leaving harder than I ever imagined.
Flemington is the kind of place where the leafy avenues and tightly-packed terrace houses can transport you to a bygone era.
Where you can literally conduct all your business on foot, from taking the dog for a booster shot at the vet to wading through a sea of Laksa King patrons to pick up your takeaway five spice chicken ribs.
Where your friendly barista waves whenever you walk past his café (shout-out to Wolf and Hound!).
Where you see your local MP out and about running with his dogs and casually acknowledge with a knowing nod when you pass him in the street (shout-out to Adam Bandt!).
Where you hear the traffic chopper buzzing about most evenings to report on Citylink gridlock (shout-out to Jimmy Wirtanen!).
Where your elderly neighbour comes over to borrow a cup of sugar (LEGIT) and for help fixing her broken television (spoiler: her remote just needed fresh batteries).
Where the Citylink cheesestick is a comforting presence that seems to be visible from anywhere, including my front porch.
Where the attendant at the BP down the road knows your sole purpose for ever going there is to buy late-night ice cream, and is confused when you just buy juice.
Where your hunger can lead you to Somali sambusa, Vietnamese bun, Tex-Mex tacos, dumplings dumplings dumplings, huge-ass Turkish kebabs and everything in between.
Where locals band together for tree-planting working bees, and you do your bit by inviting them to fill their watering cans with your tap when they rock up to plant natives outside your house.
Where you’re always within earshot of the 57 or 59 tram dings, or the horns of trains departing Newmarket or Flemington Bridge.
Where it feels like home, and I didn’t fully realise it until it was time to leave.
Outlier favourites: Flemington
🍒 Flemington Farmers’ Market (every Sunday yo)
✉️ Flemington Post Office (dat architecture)
🏠 Nathan’s Terrace (dat history)
🍏Organic Wholefoods (dem falafel chips)
♋ Get a tatt at Crucible Tattoo Co
🐶 Vestpup Atelier
🍜 Laksa King (I mean...)
🍪 Butterbing brownie sandwiches from Wolf and Hound. Actually, any sandwich from Wolf and Hound. Just go to Wolf and Hound
🍞 $6 banh mi at Trinity Bakehouse
🍗 The biggest-ass parma you’ll ever eat, at the Doutta Galla Hotel
🍳 Micheal’s BBQ Breakfast @ the farmers’ markets
🍹Blazing Saddles from Sugar Skulls
☕️ ALL THE COFFEE at Wolf and Hound