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The great divide - Dale's Story

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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. 

Collingwood College - Liria's Story

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I’ve gone from Clifton Hill all the way to St Kilda. The longest trip, I reckon an hour and a half, thank you very much. Traffic, bumper to bumper. I have a girlfriend who lives in St Kilda and Punt Rd, I live in Balwyn, so it’s straight down the freeway, get off and just go straight down. But, too busy. Especially around Richmond way – Swan St, Bridge Rd – it just drags a bit. So it takes a long time. And it’s the traffic. However, let me tell you, it’s still a lovely drive down. Because you’re driving along and you look at Richmond Oval and the gentlemen’s, you know, buildings that are there for gentlemen’s pleasure. You go past the train station. And it changes geographically all the way.

Which is my favourite part of Hoddle/Punt? I think I like it from Queens Pde to just past Richmond. And then it becomes a bit sparse, a bit quieter, it turns a little bit. It’s a strange street, isn’t it?

The road represents a lot. We lived in the area. I was born there in 1958. I went to George Street Primary School. And we used to go to Smith St – it was such a big thing, Smith St in those days. Which is great to see that it’s got the same sort of life now. It’s really buzzing. Hoddle St was always one of the major thoroughfares, always has been. It is a lot busier now though, more cars on the road, but it’s still a good street. And it’s an interesting street: you have little trees, the houses, and there are some shops that don’t seem to be utilised, they’re closed as shopfronts.

I've always driven down Hoddle St. Because for me to go to the city – in 1965 we moved to Balwyn so that’s always been the route that we used. Johnston St/Hoddle St or Freeway/Hoddle St. Because you go straight up to Victoria Pde and then turn to go into the city. And even now when I’m coming back from the city, from the football, from a city thing, I don’t mind Hoddle St. I know it’s busy, but you don’t mind it because you know there are petrol stations if you need. It’s familiar territory.

When I travel down Johnston St every day, it’s interesting the different pockets. When I go past Kew Junction, then up to Raheen, I always look at it and drool and think, 'When can I ever go in there?' And then when you go over the bridge, then it changes, then you see all the shops that are closed and not closed, and it’s busy and it’s older, much older. I always get into the turning lane just before Hoddle St and there’s a Persian rug place, a cafe… Even the pub on Johnston St, there’s nowhere to park. Then you turn into Hoddle and I always think, ‘Now I’m looking at the other side of the city.' It’s almost like, this is now really inner city. It sort of changes it a bit. And that’s why it surprises me sometimes when students from Collingwood College, or this area, are accepted by Kew High School. Because I think how far is Kew High School? We miss out on a lot of students here because Kew wants to keep their numbers up and take them out of their zone. Where we should be having kids in this area, they’re getting on a bus and going out. I think that’s really interesting because this is where they should be. Which is a beautiful old building and a big school.

I'm not exactly sure how old Collingwood College is but I’m sure it’s over 50 years old. It’s an enigma. An amazing school with two ovals and two gymnasiums. Someone said to me there was a Labor minister in the ‘70s who said, 'And why shouldn’t public schools have these kinds of facilities? We don’t leave them just for the private schools.' And so they’ve done that. It’s a huge school. And we can actually have 1200 students here. We don’t, we have nearly 700, but we should have more students, but they are being taken to other schools, to fill their classrooms.

The one thing I grew up with, always on Hoddle St, is the familiar sight of the housing estates. Because that’s part of it. That does something to the area. Sometimes people don’t choose the school because we have the housing estate next door and they seem to have an attitude, or a misconception of what our students would be like. Everyone deserves an education is what I say to the kids and, in fact, when I left Balwyn, teachers where I was teaching in a very elite school were really shocked that I was going to Collingwood College. And students said to me, 'You’ll be stabbed and killed.'

And when I came here, some of the students said, 'Why would you leave that sort of school to come here to us?' And I said, 'What’s wrong with you? You guys are great.' So I’ve actually gone into some of the kids’ homes and had afternoon tea or whatever when I get invited. It does attract some people who do have issues, but there are lovely families there and they’ve renovated some of the rooms and they’re great. And some of the kids are really happy. Happy to be in this school, happy to be there. It’s not a stigma. It’s just public perception.

I think developers think, god, prime real estate. When they were erected years ago… Dad came in 1949, he bought straight in Fitzroy. He left Albania when the Iron Curtain came down. He lived two years in Italy, learned to speak beautiful Italian, lived two years in Greece, learned to speak Greek. And came to Australia in 1949. So he worked on the Snowy River Project and worked in QLD on the sugarcane fields.

We all have a real love of this area, but we left when we were 5 or 6. He wanted to go out a bit. But if I had my choice of where to live, I would have said Gore St, Fitzroy. One of those beautiful terrace houses. Absolutely lovely. And even though Hoddle St is busy, well, the freeway is busy, everywhere’s busy. Try going down Swan St or Bridge Rd. So for us, when we come out of the city, it’s just quick. Go down Grey St, cut through East Melbourne and just come straight onto Hoddle St. It’s the main thoroughfare, isn’t it?

New Boundary Hotel - David's Story

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My family owned the New Boundary Hotel in East Melbourne from 1977 to 1983. My brother, Phil, and I managed the hotel for our parents when we were in our late teens and early twenties. Many of our mates worked at the hotel during their student days. People to this day still recall the wild times we had back then as it was the 'go to' place on Thursday/Friday nights for the young. We were one of the first pubs to have a late liquor licence. It operated a busy business lunch during the week and had many characters come through the door. Many bands played at the pub during those years and it was also a popular meeting spot when football was at the MCG. Heady days, lots of fun times and many memories.

Jane's Story

Back in the early 2000s, when my mate Cara finished uni, she hadn't slept for three days due to some pharmaceuticals a friend had supplied to get her and her friends through their final folio works. 

After submitting the final folio, they all went to Revolver to celebrate but Cara suddenly felt really ill (understandably) and decided to get a cab home. 

On the way home she was so nauseous she had to ask the cab driver to pull over. She got out on Punt Rd and spewed on a small patch of grass at the edge of the road. The cab driver promptly drove off with her handbag still in the cab, leaving her alone on Punt Rd with no wallet (and no phone cos they didn't exist yet).

The remarkable part of the story is that the cabbie then returned on foot, having parked the car around the corner, bringing Cara her handbag and asking if she was ok. He stayed with her on the edge of Punt Rd for about 20 minutes until she felt well enough to get back in the car. Then he drove her home.