Life in Melbourne: My first few days
Design Policy as Mission Impossible

Small Things: Micro-impressions of Melbourne

I am still getting used to the idea that this is my life, not just some vacation. When I do get a place and Jerry is sprung from “prison,” it will become more real, but for now here is a collection of small things that left impressions on me over the last few days.

  • While Chicago (where I lived in West Loop) smells of chocolate, garbage, and fresh baked bread, Melbourne (where I am staying in Prahran) smells of eucalyptus trees, electric sparks (from the trams), and curry roasted meat.
  • I read the Aussie food labels and cannot tell how many kJ (kilo Joules) there are in a calorie.
  • Rooms are measured by measuring tape in millimeters: furniture in centimeters; small bottles in mL. Small 250mL bottles are tall and thin.  
  • The flow of pedestrian traffic on the side walk is the same as that for cars. People “drive” on the left hand side of the sidewalk. The same for escalators. I have already internalized the ‘look to the right” when crossing the street.
  • In Melbourne cinemas, you purchase an assigned seat in the theater and they have a green, yellow, red color-coding system to let you know when a show is available, filling up, and full, respectively. (At least at the Crown Cinema where I went to see Bruno yesterday)
  • Conversation overheard, “People are getting hit more with trams because of those damn iPods and such.”
  • In Prahran, which is a very posh area of Melbourne (median house price of $AU 803,000) has what looks to be a large public housing complex. The inhabitants seem to be the elderly and European migrants, but I did not do a close study. It was surprising to be walking through rows of one-floor Victorian and Edwardian homes and see this towering monstrosity of high rises, straight out of the South Side of Chicago, or the Paris Banlieue, or Soviet architecture.
  • People seem to be very class/prestige conscious in Melbourne. This might be the effect of being a British colony/Commonwealth without a Revolution.
  • Shower over bath is an actual amenity when seeking housing.
  • The tram and train system is very efficient and gets you to most, if not all places, in the Melbourne inner suburbs. Tram and train ticket policing is very lax.
  • Melbournites have been very friendly to me in terms of striking up random conversations. My red poppies rain coat does serve as a good ice breaker. I need to get better at remembering people’s names and bought some flax seed oil with Omega 3,6,9 to help.
  • Being a vegetarian in Melbourne is easy. There is always one or more very tasty options for vegetarians at any restaurant (at least that which I have been to eat).
  • There are many great vintage stores on Chapel Street that are crammed with “valuable junk.” The clothing is more impressive than the furniture. Although I am so desirous to buy an Egg Chair for my flat, I just don’t want to pay the money for one (approx. $AU 600-800) because it would be the only furniture in my living room. =)
  • I will buy most of my fiction books second hand. Books are relatively expensive here in Melbourne. Non-fiction, I will still have to get specially ordered, but most of the major design books are available here.

Summation: I really like Melbourne.


Sarah Jackson

So happy I found this blog, Dori! I just got back from a 3 week solo adventure in Australia, something I've dreamed about for years... so not disappointed. I fell completely in love with the country, and have been daydreaming about living and working in Melbourne every single second since I've returned to New York City.

I know you're probably waaaay busy adjusting to a new a city and crazy job (design anthropology, how cool!). But please post when you can. I need to live vicariously through you until I can make the leap. I'm in television though, so I'll have to adjust some of your details to suit my dreams;-)

Best of luck,

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