This week marked six months since I came back to Melbourne, having left the city to move to Canberra 15 years ago (with a three-year stint along the way in wonderful Wellington).
As time goes on, I suspect you see things differently; appreciate them more; and reflect on a city that revels in its sport, its laneway cafes, and its endless parks and gardens.
Living in the far outer east as I did growing up, going into the ‘city’ was a big deal as a child; and even in those brief years after I left school. Now, living but a tram or train ride away, or 15 minutes tops driving, it has a realness about it – and ideally, I’d love to live in the CBD.
Having been away for so long (notwithstanding the brief trips back) it’s quite a surreal experience, say, to walk from the Flinders Street end of Swanston Street, all the way up to RMIT and Melbourne University. The changes are gradual, yet obvious and the closer you get to the unis, the less ties you see. Collins Street and its mix of architecture, Flinders Lane and its charm, and a place very special to me for personal reasons – the steps of Flinders Street Station – all resonate more now than ever.
One thing I knew – but had not really appreciated fully as an adult – is the city’s mammoth obsession with sport, particularly AFL. It is incredible! The ongoing saga of will a certain Geelong player move to the Gold Coast Suns forms many a conversation I’ve been involved in. Such discussions are frequent, they are deeply considered and proves what we all know here: Sport is the lingua franca of Melbourne.
I love the endless opportunities to meet new people and go to events here. Part of that is now being settled and meeting new people and reacquainting myself with old friends. Part of it’s because lots happens – be it social media in sport networking; be it just going to the footy; be it meeting people and nattering over coffee in a laneway cafe where the coffee is strong and the service good – Melbourne is a very sociable town. Perhaps it helps I can say ‘oh, I lived here, and came back’ – but many people I either work with or know are from interstate and other than the odd jibe about Sydney, the attitude is very much a welcoming one. It is easy to ask people to have a coffee, get their advice and open doors profess-socially (a non-word I know, but I find the lines between professional and social are blurred here – and that’s altogether not a bad thing).
Never did I think I’d live in Melbourne again – but life changes and more than once I’ve stopped myself and gone ‘yeah, this is good’. I am incredibly fortunate in many, many ways.
Years ago when I was growing up, Channel 7 in Melbourne aired a series of station ids, which it turns out, where so popular, they did them for their 50th year again. While the city skyline has changed remarkably, the spirit and warmth of this very clever package – and the city – has stuck me with.
It’s great to be home.