collingwood

Train vs fish and chips - Sophi's Story

I remember family beach trips down Punt Road to Elwood. I also travelled that road daily to get to Collingwood Girls High School in Vere Street, Collingwood. My sister and I both attended Collingwood Girls, often saving our train fare to buy fish and chips and walking to school. Very few cars in those days and fond memories.

beach


Happy here - Nga's Story

park

I’ve been in Melbourne for 31 years. I live in Richmond, but I work here at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House for 10 years.

I come here by car because I work with cooking so I need to travel by car. Sometimes it’s very busy, after work, heading back home. But in the morning it’s very good and fresh. I arrive at work and no problems. After 5 or 6pm is not a good time. That’s the busy time on weekdays. But weekends are beautiful, quiet. Except when the football is on.

The park is good here. I think if they do more park for children to play more people like to come. A family thing. We have a park over here. Behind here. We use it for festivals. A little bit not security, because the people living here are all drinking.

We do a shop every day on Victoria Street and I live close to there. Victoria Street is smaller. This one is a big one, so very happy, for cars. Over there, the community stays closer. We need more space – no more cars but more space. For parks.

I tried the train but I’m not good at the bus. I don’t know where they take us to. I used to do the train before I was driving. So easy for me and quick. Public transport is the best here in Melbourne. Especially in Richmond, we have everything.

I work with the elderly and they use maybe the bus more on Hoddle Street. And then tram and train. I think they’re happy with that. The only thing is the rough people, the drug dealers, they’re around here too much. So if we can solve that, it’s beautiful living here. The elderly people here, my community, they’re happy here. Everything here, the shops here, the people here.

I like to ride my bike - Mai's Story

bicycle

When I just arrived in Australia, I lived in Melbourne. For 23 years already. I live in Richmond, but I used to come to my friend and I started work this year in the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

I travel to Collingwood from Richmond by bike every Tuesday. Volunteer job. I like all the Hoddle Street people. I like to ride my bike from my home to come here. I ride from the morning at about 9.30am and then I come home about three o’clock. I ride over the footbridge. I ride to the Collingwood Library. I love it.

Every year we have the Harvest Festival in April. Just finished. We cook and we serve for all the people all around. 

Good old Collingwood forever - Bob's Story

victoriapark

I was born across the road in Easey Street, 83 years ago, lived here all my life. Collingwood used to be a working class suburb. I'm retired now. And I’m the caretaker at Victoria Park (the home of Collingwood Football Club).

Started working here around 1950. Used to be that someone had to die before you could get a seat in that stand. If you came to the football and I came to the football and I miss one Saturday, half the crowd would stand up and say, 'Where’s Bobby?' Because everyone knew everyone. Judges, lawyers, senior heart surgeons, once they walked through the gate, with their scarves and beanies on, everyone’s treated equal.

People said, 'I used to barrack for Collingwood.' No, you never. Once you’ve started barracking you never followed anyone else.

But the suburb’s changed, with all the trendies and people moving in. It’s an established area. I met some people in Easey Street, there was a fellow there, Hungarian he was. He bought a little place up the road, then he bought another little place next to it. Now he owns half of Easey Street. Nobody can imagine what he’s worth now.

Five hotels disappeared from Hoddle Street when the road was widened. There was one on the corner of our street, the Railway Hotel, it closed its doors on Christmas Eve 1972. The day my daughter was engaged. The Railway across the road, that closed up. The Town Hall Hotel further down. Sir Henry Locke was a pub on the corner there. They used to have Ladies Lounges. Women weren’t allowed to drink in the bar.

There used to be 33 hotels in Collingwood. One on nearly every corner. You couldn’t walk two blocks without a pub. Where all those new buildings are, used to be Yarra Falls. Knitting mills. Made suit material and stuff. The whole block they had. From near the river, around to Johnston Street, then down to the bridge, was Yarra Falls. So there was about two or three thousand people would storm out every night time and out into the pubs.

There used to be a blacksmith on the corner of Sackville Street here. And a Klein's chemist. The other corner was Sir Henry Locke Hotel. 

As kids, we used to go and play under the Riley Street drain before the freeway. We used to walk up to Clifton Hill, up towards Carlton. A big open drain it was. We used to come home from school and play in the street. Till its time to come inside and have your tea at night. We used to go round to the local picture theatre and leave your front doors open at night, to let a cool breeze come through. Now you go inside and lock yourself in your own house. But it’s still the same suburb, just different people in it now. 

I know a lot of people, they’d go home, if Collingwood got beat they wouldn’t eat.

Image credits:
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Victoria Park, Collingwood.
Date(s): [ca. 1906]
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.

Books as self-defence – an interview with Thalia, Sumeyra and Jamie

book

Hi, I’m Thalia and I’m 15 years old. I've lived in Collingwood for six years. 

I’m Sumeyra and I've lived in Collingwood for 17 years, and I’m 17.

I’m Jamie, I lived in Collingwood for eight years and I’m 15-years-old. 

Interviewer: How do you get to school? Do you walk along Hoddle St?

T: We live in the flats and Hoddle St is just there.

S: We usually just use the park, that’s right behind the flats. But if I’m staying at a friend’s house we’ll always come through Hoddle St to get to my flats or the school. Yeah, I use it quite a lot. 

J: A lot of people cross Hoddle St to get to the train station mostly, because that’s the only connecting main road to get across. Or the park, the one behind the Town Hall. The one where the train tracks are above, right across from there.

T: We call it Station Park.

S: Yeah, that’s what we call it but we don’t really have a real name for it. A lot of people go there to just chill. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

T: I go over the footbridge by myself, when I’m not with my mum, because she’s scared of heights.

J: I hate that bridge.

S/T: I love that bridge.

J: When I was a kid, I used to call it the Bridge of Terror. I always thought something bad was going to happen up there like the bridge was suddenly going to crack or a truck was going to flip over it. 

T: He was always scared when we were going over that bridge.

J: And it was just going to break down and we were all going to fall. I was just always scared of that bridge.

S: I used to love that bridge as a child. When I was on top of it I would feel like I’m flying. I used to call it the Airport Bridge. 

T: I just sit there. Sit in the middle. It’s fun.

S: When I was like 5-years-old that’s what I used to do. 

T: At night it was pretty fun.

S: I took a photo of the traffic. It was like it was coming and…

T: There’s people in the cars…

S: They keep looking at you like, 'What the hell?'

J: They get worried someone’s gonna chuck rocks. They do it a lot on the freeway. Chuck rocks. Spit. People do that. They go through windshields.

S: Hoddle St leads to a lot of main roads so you can just quickly get to places really quickly. We use it a lot, my family uses it a lot.

T: It’s got everything. There’s pools…

J: I think it’s really good because it connects straight to Richmond. It’s just one straight road down.

T: And Clifton Hill.

J: Clifton Hill the other way. The freeway. Anywhere you need to go. It’s put in a good spot.

S: That’s what I’m saying it connects to really good main places.

J: Yeah, you can just follow that line all the way down to St Kilda. I think it just works really well. I used to live in Collingwood. I used to live down on Gold St, down there. And we used to use Hoddle St a lot, me and my brother. But I moved out down to Doncaster. My mum lived around here when she was young. She lived in Abbotsford, so she would use Hoddle St all the time and she remembers all the stories about that guy, the stabbings and all that.

S: My mum remembers that too because she’s lived here since she moved to Australia. 25 years ago I think.

J: My mum went to this school when she was younger as well. She tells me all the stories about how in Clifton Hill, all the things that happened down there, even the stabbings, that happened down there, she remembers. She said she would’ve probably passed the guy in her car, like a few minutes, or she would’ve walked past him. She was there when it happened, she was walking around there. So if she had walked any minutes later, who knows what could’ve like happened? 

S: My mum was like at the park when that was happening. So she heard the noise and then she just went upstairs to the house and was looking out the window. She was like, 'I didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t want to know.' Because she heard gunfire and all that. So she just, she locked the doors.

Interviewer: Living up in the flats, can you hear the noise from the road?

T: Yeah, I live high up – there’s 20 floors – and I can hear everything.

S: Depends on the side of the house you’re on. Where you are, you’re facing the road.

T: I’m facing both ways. I’m the corner.

S: You’re the corner so you’re facing the school and also the road. 

T: And also the park. 

S: On Saturday nights you can hear the traffic.

J: Saturday nights definitely.

S: Yeah, Friday and Saturday nights. It’s packed.

J: It’s a real connector from the freeway because I live down… If we come through here we go down Hoddle St to get to anywhere, especially if you want to go down to St Kilda, or Elwood down there. Especially in summer, that’s when it’s really busy. And you can, you can notice it. After school, every day is quite busy, but I think Saturday nights…

S: Friday and Saturday nights is just…

J: It’s not banked up but it’s just consistent. 

S: Yeah, it just keeps going on. It just keeps coming…

T: Beeping and…

S: It keeps coming, it does not stop. It’s like a flow of cars.

T: You can hear people talking…

S: Yeah, if they talk loud enough, you can actually hear them.

Interviewer: From your flats?

S: Not if the windows are closed, but if they’re slightly open you can actually hear them very clearly. So if I really wanted to I could actually find out if someone murdered anyone. It’s actually that clear.

T: The school speaker, like, if they were asking for my name, I’ll be at home and I’m just like, 'Whoa.'

J: A lot of people, when they go out clubbing and they take Hoddle St to get straight to the city, you can hear their music. The doof doof. My brother has that. They’ve got their sub-woofers going. You can hear that a lot.

S: You can hear it so clear.

T: You can hear that bar across the street.

S: You just open the window and you don’t need music, you can just listen to that and dance to it.

T: There’s a bar across the street near the bridge on Hoddle St and you can hear people playing their music.

J: Is it the bistro? The bar bistro just off… Just next to Collingwood Station when you come straight out, just across there, and it leads to the side road, to the main road across there, there’s a bar down there.

S: We used to have stories, I just remembered one. You know those really, really big party balloons that you used to have? That you could even bounce on them. I used to have one and I was walking down Hoddle St with my mum, because we were just out on Johnston St, we got something from there, from the little grocery shop there. So we were walking down Hoddle St and then I let go of the balloon and it flew onto Hoddle St. And I was running after it. And if my brother didn’t catch me I probably would’ve got hit by a car. And then my brother was like, 'Don’t run anywhere.' And then he went and got the balloon and came back. And my mum’s going ape-sh*@t. And I’m like, 'Mum calm down, I didn’t die.' I was four. 

T: I remember walking my sister’s dog. 

S: Please don’t say the dog died...

T: No, it nearly got hit by a car. My sister asked me to walk her dog. I was like, 'I might take it to Station Park.' Walked it there. I went over the footbridge, the overpass, because I didn’t trust crossing Hoddle St. And then I went to Station Park and then I walked her and she wanted to go home. So I went to walk through the crossing out front of the flats, on Hoddle St. And then, she bolted in the middle.

S: That’s why I prefer cats, you don’t have to walk them.

T: She bolted in the middle and I ran over the footbridge and then I dropped my phone off the footbridge and it cracked. It landed on the grass and I was like, 'Yes!' Because the dog wanted to go home because she wasn’t used to, like, walking with me and she just ran across Hoddle St. I was just standing there. I was like, 'Oh no.' Because my sister's other dog passed away so I can’t let this one die. My sister was like, 'How was the walk?' I was like, 'Great.' And then these people were jumping out of their cars trying to grab the dog. All the cars stopped. No-one got it, it just ran to the front of the flats. Sitting there.

S: No-one stopped to help me.

Interviewer: Are you guys footy fans?

J: I am.

All: Yeah, Collingwood.

T: Because we see Collingwood football players around.

J: They used to actually come down to the school. They used to do this little thing called the Breakfast Club. Every week, two or three of the players used to come down and meet all the kids.

T: They still do that…

J: Not like they used to.

T: Not like that, but last time was the captain of Collingwood. And the boxer.

J: That was just one guy, they used to do the team. The whole team.

S: That was when Collingwood was here.

J: That was when they used to practice…

Interviewer: At Victoria Park.

J: Now they just do the occasional rock up. 

Interviewer: Do you guys go over to Victoria Park at all?

S: I actually go to the Collingwood Club there, because it’s quite an old place. And all my friends who used to live in Collingwood, when we meet up we’d go there to just hang out a bit, and then we’ll go to the city. All my brothers and my family used to go. It’s kind of very important for us. Our family friends moved out a long time ago to buy a house. It’s like a little tradition that we go there.

J: For us, I have a brother and a sister, and the house in Collingwood was just a bit small. And I was sharing a room with my brother at the time and then, he’s about five years older than me. We decided that it’s getting a bit crammed up in there and then we’ve moved out now. But we’ve still got the house, we rent it out. And my brother works on Wellington St so he always goes past the house and sees how it’s doing.

Interviewer: Do you have any stories that you remember when you were living here, particularly on Hoddle St?

J: There was a bit of a shaky one. I was at home with my brother, we were on Gold St, and we knew everyone around Collingwood, we had all our mates from school. And we hear a knock at the door. This was on a Saturday. We hear a knock at the door, go and get it, and it's our friends. They have this look of fear on their faces and they’re panicking. We go, 'What happened, what happened?' They go, 'This guys was gonna stab us on Hoddle St.' He was following them. He said, 'Give me your wallets or I’m gonna stab you.' They were going down to the Collingwood pools, just near Clifton Hill. We were shocked, we didn’t know what to do. The scary thing is, he was out the front of our house, he was standing there looking at the house. Our friends came past the house, he must have followed them. He stopped in front of the house. I was about six then. My brother would've been 11 to 12. We were at home, just us.

T: My mum whacked a guy with her bag…

S: Yes, my mum did that too.

T: The guy got out of his car and he was like, 'Give me your bag.' And she’s like, 'Nuh.'

Interviewer: She used her handbag in self defence?

T: Yeah, she used her bag. Then we recognised him and he was living in the same flat. But he never came.

S: The guy who tried to rob my mum actually wasn’t living around Collingwood. He was living at Richmond or something. He got caught though. He had a knife in his hand and he’s like, to my mum, 'Give me all your money.' And my mum was like, 'No!' And just got her bag and started whacking him. Apparently she had like books from the Collingwood Library in her bag, so she was like hitting him with it. I don’t know what happened. I think the guy just ran off. I wasn’t even there, I was at school when this was happening.

Interviewer: Are there any changes you'd like to see on Hoddle St?

S: It’s changed…

T: We were all happy when there was a McDonalds. We were happy.

S: And the pizza.

T: And Hungry Jacks.

 

Interviewer: Can you tell us more about Station Park?

T: It’s a meeting-up place.

S: You call up your friends and say, 'Hey, meet me at the Station Park.' And they’ll come. Even if you don’t live in Collingwood. Like if they live in Broadmeadows and you guys are meeting up in Collingwood they’ll know where to go.

T: They’re coming from the train. And, after school at three o’clock, there are a lot of parents around with their kids. 

S: Even on Sundays, there’s a lot of parents doing picnics and having fun with their family.

J: It’s good down there, they have a boxing gym that we used to go to. Right across from the station, it’s like an old, white building, if you look from Collingwood Station. I used to go there. They renovated. I got a bit over it. They used to, occasionally, if it was a nice day, you’d go to the park and do some sessions out there. It was good. It’s a very open. There’s one part for the younger kids and there’s this big open space. You can take your pets there, anything you want.

The great divide - Dale's Story

fence

One thing about Hoddle St is that it does create a major divide for us at Collingwood College. It almost becomes a hard boundary between this part of Collingwood and Abbotsford. And also Victoria Park. Strangely enough it’s like having the Great Wall go through the middle of the wider community. It’s quite strange to have a school that sits on the boundary of this arterial road. It causes problems for us because of noise and traffic and sometimes pollution, but it’s not too bad.

And that’s why our parents, 10 years ago, built this very high, natural wood fence to try and separate it from the major road and the ugliness of heavy traffic going past the school everyday. But blocking it out has meant that people don’t know we’re here. So here we are, on the boundary of this major road, and people can travel up that road – and I hear this story time and time again – 'Where are you?' And I say, 'Opposite the Town Hall.' And they give me this puzzled look, as if, 'I’ve been travelling that way for 20 years and I’ve never seen the school.' They didn’t even know the school is there. 

There’s a carpet place directly opposite, on the other side of Hoddle St, that’s been in business for 32 years. I went in there one day and asked for a quote for some carpet for the school. He said, 'What school?' Again it’s another example of how this road can create a huge divide. And one side doesn’t know very much about the other side. It’s quite strange. What’s worse for us is that there’s another big divide with the freeway. So we’re in the corner of these two big roads, pathways, that create divisions within the community. Which is a little bit sad because the demographic on this side of the road is changing a bit, but the demographic on the other side has clearly changed. It’s amazing what a road can do to a situation like that.

We’ve got an overpass and it hardly gets used. Back 15 years ago it was probably the right place. But now with the shift towards public transport people don’t go that way. There are hard barriers right along the road there. Apart from our fence line, there are other fence lines, that make this quite a serious construct in terms of dividing people. In some respects that’s a little bit sad. The demographic on the east is quite affluent, very different from this side, and they’re only separated by 50 metres. I’ve been in schools with big roads next to them but nothing to this effect. This is a big barrier.

There have been many well-established businesses along Hoddle Street that have survived many years. I’ve watched those businesses. It’s strange, I don’t see many people walking in and out but they keep pushing on. Whether it’s because they’re adaptable, or have been able to maintain their businesses in a different way, I don’t know. But there are also little businesses that spring up. It’s quite unique, the range of businesses, everything from printing, right through to furniture. It’s quite strange in that respect. It’s funny too that the traffic doesn’t connect with the businesses. It’s a strange area like that – the face of the local businesses doesn’t fit in with the type of people that use the road.

The road does have public transport along it. I’ve been using the public transport more. I think there is a large bus usage group that uses Hoddle St. It’s quite an important roadway. It spans quite a few suburbs. It has the ability to connect with so many other forms of transport. The public transport here connects with the freeway that then connects with Doncaster. If you get into Clifton Hill, it then connects with the West, to Moonee Ponds and all that area. It has that feeder ability to connect with a lot of other communities around.

I like the way, as you travel along, you can suddenly see a football club or two. These big institutions that have become part of the roadway. I think that reflects a part of Melbourne too. And it’s also got the multicultural aspect. And the history.

There's a book about the 125-year history of this school. In the early days, when they were trying to get it up and running, there was a little Greek school here. At that time the Greeks were pretty predominant in this area. And the Greeks actually did a march up Hoddle St. It was quite a pivotal point for their political process – it wasn’t long after that they announced that they would build a school. I think that’s how the red building got built. It came from a protest up and down Hoddle St, with all the Greek mums.

There was a girls school here for a while. That burnt down, then they moved to another temporary school, then this one was built. There’s a real history. 

There's a little doll’s house on the corner – that's a miner’s cottage. It used to be on Islington, which is the street parallel to Hoddle. Those little cottages – that’s the last one – they were scattered right through Collingwood and Abbotsford. You can see they’re tiny. I don’t think they had a floor in them. And they’re called miner’s cottages. They go back to the very early days. That was the look along Hoddle St back in those days. That’s the last remaining one.

Our kids got a grant last year, got $1000, and bought some old tables and chairs and the kitchen equipment they used, they got it on ebay, and tried to restore it inside. But that’s reflective of maybe 100 years ago, back in the early 1900s. 

I’ve been here 10 years and I haven’t seen a lot change on Hoddle St. I think it’s one of those institutions that’s going to live on forever and forever. The road itself has changed. But the people around the road, in the immediate vicinity, I haven’t seen much change.

I know when I was a kid there was all this talk about the freeway. As I said, it creates a divide. But it’s really at the top end up there. If it came down 100 metres down here I wonder how it would have changed things. So let’s see in 10 years time. But in the main stretch of things I don’t see a lot of change happening, except some roads getting bigger and wider. 

Shoes and fruit - Len's Story

factory

In 1938 I worked at a furniture factory in Roseneath St, Clifton Hill. Fellows by the name of Patterson and Didier. There was a shoe factory nearby and, on 2 September 1938, pay day, there was a hold up and the owner got shot. Some of the bullets landed in the embankment on Roseneath St.

Albert Moody had a fruit shop in Hoddle St. I used to supply him with fruit and veggies, and cart stuff out to his little market for him. He was a cripple, he was on crutches, he was a lovely man to deal with.

Hoddle St was widened in 1971. Around that time I bought the top floor of the Julius Marlow shoe factory, opposite the Collingwood Town Hall. It was 60-foot one way and just on 50-foot the other. I was doing wholesale fruit and veggie and eggs and flour at the Vic Market and the Footscray Market.

A thriving strip - Anonymous' Story

closedshop

In the 1950s, before the ‘slum’ demolitions began to widen it, Hoddle Street in Collingwood was a thriving shopping strip much like Smith Street is now. The original street ran between today’s median strip and the Abbotsford side footpath. There were pie shops, green grocers and grocers, butcher shops, a cinema and dance halls. And between Victoria Parade and Alexander Parade there were no less than five hotels. After a days work in the shoe factory Bryce & Duncan, women would often buy the ingredients for their families’ evening meal – then they'd shell the peas in each others company on the train ride home.

The Punt Road bus met with the double decker bus in Johnston Street. Many factories, mainly footwear and clothing, were in the suburb, and lots of workers cottages lined the streets. Many of the people living in the workers cottages were subsequently relocated into the public housing estate between Hoddle and Wellington Streets.

No action I can take - Anna's Poem

Casually I round the corner onto Hoddle st
confidently cruise by clifton hill
Im in the right hand lane and I look down the hill
my heart dips,
my stomach rises,
my skull grips
I would take the eastern freeway
all the way to ringwood,
if i could
but the left hand lane 
is a land too far,
and a hope still born,
on the bumper bar of the truck beside me
and a spangaling ribbon of cars in front,
as far as the eye can see,
past collingwood (yay)
east melbourne and richmond hill,
all the way to the MCG.
There is nothing I can do,
no action I can take,
I can only be
a speckle on the road to infinity,
and as they say:
I offer it up,
I submit, I relinquish desire
and in that moment
I am one with the traffic
and the road and the tyre. (rhymes with desire)

oneway