When I was in Melbourne recently, I continued my photographic exploration of the Southern Cross Railway Station and the inner suburb of Richmond. I hung around in the former and I continued with my walking the latter.
I had briefly visited Victoria Street, Richmond, with Stuart Murdoch after our Kodak shoot for a quick meal at the no frills Thy Thy restaurant. Whilst walking to the restaurant I noticed that the Victoria Street part of Richmond had radically changed from the one that I knew when when I lived in Melbourne in the late 1970s. I was working as a conductor on the trams and studying at Photographic Studies College.
There were no Vietnamese restaurants anywhere in Victoria Street, Richmond. The notable ethnicities were Turks and Greeks. Then Richmond was identified as Struggletown. It was a working class suburb with cottages, pubs and factories. Richmond, by all accounts, had started to become a little Saigon in the 1980s.
Richmond today is in the process of gentrification, as a result of the exodus of manufacturing to the outer suburbs thereby making the inner city a much more pleasant place to live. Victoria St is still a gritty street, and it has a vibrancy that Adelaide lacks, and what inner city Adelaideans long for and Sydneysiders now miss. The Gouger Street precinct near the Adelaide Central Market doesn't really cut it.
I only had time for a couple of quick, hand held snaps at dusk with the digital camera before the evening meal. When walking back to the car after the meal I decided to return to Richmond the next day and walk Victoria St. I wanted to see if it was a food strip or more akin to an urban village.
The following day I caught the tram from Collins Street near the Southern Cross Railway Station and I walked slowly eastwards along Victoria Street from Hoddle Street to Church Street. The light wasn't good for photographing during this time of the day, as it was very bright and sunny. There was little that I could do, so I basically scoped for a future shoot when I was next in Melbourne.
I kinda liked the juxtaposition between the Richmond that I knew--eg., the old public Housing Commission flats for low income families from the 1960s -- and the Vietnamese hub of a food culture in Richmond. It helped me to re-connect to the fast disappearing Melbourne that I once knew.