The best place - Antonio's Story


God brought me to Australia. God told me he’d take me to Australia. In 1973 I was in South America, Peru. I found a job in a ship in Rotterdam and went to Peru, across the Panama Canal.

I arrived in Sydney in 1983. I was working as a cleaner. I was the best cleaner. I moved to Melbourne in 1985. First I lived in Clayton. Then I moved to Hoddle Street.

Hoddle Street is the best place. Everybody here at the Neighbourhood House recognises me. I’ve got a lot of friends here. I set up a boxing gym. My gym became a community gym.

There’s nothing wrong with Collingwood. Good suburb. Good people, bad people, everywhere you go. I don’t drive. I never drive in my life. Now I can’t because I had a stroke. I catch the bus everywhere. This place is very good for public transport. This place is the best place. I like to live here. Sometimes I think I may move to Queensland but others say, 'Don’t go there, because they don’t like black people.' I don’t care, I have friends everywhere.

One way trip to sunburn - Lois' Story

When I was in my teens I lived in Thornbury. On a Saturday afternoon, my friends and I would catch the tram down to the beginning of Queen’s Pde. And there’d be a bus there and you could hop onto that and it’d take you along Hoddle St, Punt Rd, right down to St Kilda Junction, down to Ormond Beach. I don’t know how long it took.
The memories, gee, I got terribly burnt a few times. Then we’d go to the pictures on Saturday night and I couldn’t stand up – I’d be that burnt on the backs of me legs, murder!


Party house - Suzi's Story


I was one of five people (three of us were student nurses at the Alfred Hospital) who shared a house halfway up or down Punt Road Hill, between the river and Domain Road. Right at the point where all the trucks change gear whether going up or down – a very noisy part, but we got used to it.

It was a very old, rundown house but we had loads of fun and lots of parties, each one themed, which were always visited by the police asking us to turn the music down.  We discovered that an assistant police commissioner lived nearby and clearly didn't like people having a good time. Sometimes the cops came when it was just us at home and would greet us with, "We'll just wait for a break in the traffic noise to tell you to be quiet." 

After our housewarming party (hats were the theme for that one), the visiting police came back to join the party after coming off duty and one of them ended up marrying one of the guests!

Despite having parties we did study hard too, often late into the night and a call would go out "Who's up for a coffee at Notturno's"?  It was the only place open all night, in Lygon Street, Carlton. Like all good share houses people moved on and others moved in. The landlord lived next door and as long as the rent was paid wasn't too fussed who actually lived there and rarely bothered us at all!

It was a halfway house for students of many disciplines. At one time the lounge room floor was completely taken up with an architectural model which was being entered into the competition for the new Parliament House in Canberra. They were "even a group of students entered the competition" mentioned during the subsequent discussions about this competition.

This old house with lovely stained glass windows and pressed metal ceilings is now boarded up but still standing when last I drove past. There are many, many people – some in very eminent positions today – who will remember this old house fondly. 

Excited, loud and boisterous - Xenophon's Story


Living in Fawkner Street, South Yarra, and attending South Yarra Primary School during the mid-1960s meant that I had to cross Punt Road every day to attend school.

Punt Road, South Yarra, was a busy and dangerous stretch of road with many accidents and road fatalities.

We used it to take the bus to Richmond and Elwood Beach. Often used to walk up to the Botanical Gardens or to Domain Road to watch the last stages of the Moomba Parade or to play along the banks of the Yarra River.

The two milk bars on the small strip of shops at the pedestrian crossing opposite South Yarra Primary were a meeting place for many of the school students both before and after school.

I recall meeting school friends at one milk bar in the mornings sitting on the stools watching the cars and pedestrians on busy Punt Road with each of us buying a small bottle of Fanta and having a sculling competition. Being a migrant kid I didn’t realise until later in life that, by doing this, my friends were imitating their dads at the pub.

I also recall that we were obsessed with football (Richmond in particular) and going a few times to the MCG on a Saturday to watch Richmond play. We would meet on Punt Road outside the school at about 9am (I was about 10-years-old proudly wearing my Richmond scarf that my mother knitted for me) and catching the Punt Road bus which was one of those old English buses (single level not a double decker) to get off at Swan Street, Richmond.

We would meet up with another friend from school who lived on the army barracks on Swan Street and kick the footy before walking over the bridge to watch the reserves and then the firsts play.

After the game we would take the very crowded Punt Road bus back home with many passengers who were drunk, abusive and scary – to me at least but not to my Aussie mates who would laugh and not be afraid to answer them back. At the time, being a migrant kid, I couldn’t understand that type of behaviour and disrespect.

When we would cross the river before going up the Punt Road hill, I thought the overcrowded bus would never make it, with the bus driver constantly changing to a lower gear.

I remember it was getting dark probably about 6pm and thinking that if my very protective Greek parents knew what I was going through they would never let me go again.

I just hoped that I would get home in one piece and that my parents would believe me if I said the bus was late and that I was always safe. Now that I think of it, they probably never believed me since I smelt of cigarette smoke and beer from the Punt Road bus ride.

I recall every Thursday morning in the winter months, our grade walking up Punt Road to Toorak Road to catch the Number 8 tram to the City Baths.

We would return by lunchtime and when we would get off the tram at Toorak Road, the teacher would let us stop off at the fish and chip shop to buy some chips. Unfortunately this didn’t last long as some of the boys, when walking back to school, decided to throw chips through every open window of the houses we passed.

I recall being chased down the road by this huge bloke who jumped out of a house screaming at us. It didn’t matter if you were or were not the one who threw the chips. You just ran for dear life.  

Another recollection is the Punt Road bus ride to the beach. This was a trip taken by the Greek migrants living in Fawkner Street, en mass, carrying food and drinks for a whole day at the beach. I recall the passengers on the bus scattering, grunting and sneering at us, as we came onto the bus. This never concerned me since we had the numbers, being in the company of my parents and their friends. We were excited, loud and boisterous. I’m sure many of the passengers got off before their destination just to escape the ‘foreign invaders’ as many viewed us.

We sometimes walked up Punt Road to the Alfred Hospital. I recall my mother telling us how my father carried my seriously ill brother, who was about 10 at the time, some 2km up Punt Road all the way to the emergency department of the Alfred Hospital. I can only imagine the fear and panic he felt and how long that walk would have seemed to him.

Another memory of Punt Road was in the late 1970s when I was driving home from a party very late at night in my VW 1500 Notchback. It was about 3 or 4am, not a car on the road, driving up the Punt Road Hill with too many passengers in my car. The car was on its last legs, sounding very sick and struggling to get up the hill.

According to one of my passengers the reverse gear was the strongest gear in the car so we turned into the first side street and then reversed up the Punt Road Hill.  Only a couple of cars drove past us but no one stopped or reported us.

It must have looked crazy but we did get up the hill at which point, we reversed into someone’s driveway and continued down the other side of Punt Road.

Caroline's Story

photo by

photo by

My grandmother, Bertha, the daughter of Sir John Monash, nagged her father to buy a horse so that she could ride to school (I think at PLC in East Melbourne) from their place in Hawthorn. This would have been in the 1900s. He (unwisely) bought her an ex-racehorse that was very hard to control – but after asking she did not feel that she could complain, and risk losing the horse.

One day she was riding under the railway bridge over Punt Road, at Swan Street, when her horse bolted at the sound of trains going overhead. It became completely uncontrollable and she could have come to grief except a man passing by managed to grab it by the bridle. This man insisted on leading her home despite her protestations, and made it clear to her father that this was no horse for a young lady, so that was the end of that. 

Many years later (in the 1980s) I lived in a shared house on Punt Road. This house belonged to the mother of a very good friend of mine and it so happens that her mother was friends with Bertha Monash, just as the mother of my friend was friends with my mother. Three generations of friendships independently formed – a real Melbourne dynasty of friendships.

The shared house was the house my friend had grown up in. It was a great house, one of those single-fronted single-story terraces not far from the river on the east side of Punt Rd, still there. I had the room at the back so it was not too noisy. Many share house stories could be told a la Helen Garner (but not really Punt Rd stories), but I do remember that peculiar smell – something to do with brewing? – that always pervaded that end of Punt Rd. Whatever industry that caused it has gone now.