Saturday in St Kilda
Goulburn (NSW) born and Sydney raised, I am something of a Melbourne freshie. I knew that St Kilda was an iconic Melbourne suburb, much loved by locals and visitors alike, but hadn’t realised what historic and cultural landmarks I would come across until I hopped on a tram and took myself on a morning walk along the esplanade last Saturday. I always loved that Paul Kelly song though.
I started at the south end with a lovely coffee at Monarch Cakes, one of several European style bakeries on the main shopping strip. I didn’t get any photos, but I loved this one for all its Eastern European old world style and authentic looking baked goods and decor. If not for the contemporary garb of its inhabitants, I really would have felt as if I’d stepped back in time. In fact, the bakery dates back to 1934, so it’s quite a historic little bakery in itself.
Speaking of historical facts, I learned that the Kulin people were in fact the traditional owners of Euroe Yroke (the land now known as St Kilda), and lived in the area for more than 30,000 years prior to European settlement in the 1840s. A little internet research informs me that many an ancient Corroboree were held at the red gum tree at St Kilda Junction, which is still standing.
Along the esplanade today, the colonial and modern day influence is fairly evident. Strolling out towards the pavilion, where the famous yellow kiosk stands, I wrote myself into the pages of an early Victorian novel of the Gaskell/Dickens/Bronte ilk, with the wide open sea before me, a lovely grey sky above and a perfectly cool breeze against my skin. Skipping ahead to the 20th century, I learned that visiting American servicemen came to dances held at the pavilion during the Second World War and taught young Australian women the jitterbug. I could almost hear the music floating down the pier, thinking of the excitement those evenings must have brought and all the little histories created from those times.
The kiosk on the pavilion was re-constructed in 2006 according to the original 1903 plans, after having been destroyed in an arson attack in 2003. You might be able to see the half burned flag flying above the kiosk in the black and white photo above, shot from behind the kiosk facing towards the shore.
Back along the esplanade, you can still visit Melbourne Luna Park, which has been operating almost continuously since 13 December 1912. After a day of family fun and fairy floss, you can head over to the Palais Theatre, which has also been in existence in some form or other since 1914. I love the Art Deco exterior of this historic Melbourne icon, and although I’ve not been to any event here before, it’s now officially on the bucket list. From what I’ve read about the theatre, it has a Baroque inspired interior that I’m very keen to set my sights on. If current events are anything to go by, it’s also home to some excellent line ups.
It would be hard not to love St Kilda, and I’m feeling quite keen to get back there.
I’d probably even travel 13 hours on a bus.