As a student in Year 11, I remember having such a visceral, overwhelming reaction to the personal stories of the Hoddle Street Massacre. In the months that followed I devoured everything in the newspaper and was completely devastated by the randomness of Julian Knight’s actions and the effect I felt it had on my city thereafter.
I could barely believe it when, some years later, my share house journey began and I wound up in a wonderful house with friends a little way along Hoddle Street, in Abbotsford. Several years of elm tree-lined streets, Victoria Street feasting, the addictive stench of Saturday afternoon brews at the CUB brewery, the sights and sounds of life around the Number 48 tram, the proximity of cricket and footy traditions, and the fun of inner-city pubs and cafes evokes such nostalgia as my friends and I were setting up our lives beyond uni, and dreaming of travel and meaningful relationships.
On one such adventurous night I set off to meet up with a young man I’d befriended through work. We were going for a drink at the wonderful Bakers Arms Hotel on Victoria Street. It was a ‘first date’ and my housemates farewelled me with excitement and anticipation. My friend and I enjoyed such a great night together and continued on to see comedy at the Prince Patrick Hotel across Hoddle Street. We were still talking and laughing hours later as we made our way back toward my house in Charles Street, back over Hoddle Street.
Whilst I still have no memory of that dash across Hoddle Street, I did not make it home to Charles Street that night. I was struck by a car and suffered serious and life-threatening injuries. I was taken to St Vincent's Hospital by ambulance and later to The Alfred. So began six months of intensive hospitalisation and rehabilitation and many years later I still bear significant physical and psychological scars and limitations as a result of that 1994 accident. My recovery has been amazing nevertheless and it is miraculous that I am fairly able-bodied and emotionally intact given the extent of my road trauma experience.
We had attempted to dash across Hoddle Street in those wee hours and miscalculated, it would seem, the proximity of a car travelling in our direction. I was struck and injured very badly. My friend saw me go under the car, and ran to my assistance; he was horrified by the physical injuries to my right leg but maintained his composure enough to commence CPR until an ambulance arrived and in doing so probably saved my life.
The road to recovery was a long one and was assisted by many talented and wonderful family, friends and medical specialists. But as I’ve often said in the intervening years it was a journey I would not walk away from as a truly enriching experience in the story of my life. It taught be so much about myself and my resilience and has equipped me with the most precious of all gifts, to savour every day of my amazing life.
Every single time I drive along Hoddle Street today I am reminded of my accident. These days, more often than not, I have three kids and a husband in the car with me and cannot believe the constant wonder of the days of life. My husband is not my lifesaver – he had mountains to conquer further afield from Melbourne.