Christ Church in St.Kilda – Challenges of renovating

Welcome after hibernating! My one was not a winter-induced one, but one caused by summer, family holidays in Tasmania and challenges at work. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, It’s sometimes hard to stay sane in the city;-)

Summer is gone, footy has started, and this morning I woke up to the sound of an autumn rain pouring down and drumming on the roof. Being in Melbourne, it just needed a breakfast to calm down and I could peddle down to St.Kilda.

The lanes of the suburb of the insaintly are always a pleasure. Today I went along the unfashionable part of Acland Street, passed the Parish Hall of the Christ Church, today the home of Theatreworks, and then the church itself.

Seeing an open door, I went in, driven by curiosity and greeted by donations for a foodbank. Every Wednesday the church hosts locals in need. Today’s  plea asks for small cereal packs, long life milk, med sized shampoo and tinned food.

I remembered the projected ornaments in a winter night 2017 which  celebrated 160 years of the church’s existence and raising awareness of its state and its need to renovate.

This needs money. A lot. The floors are creaking, the roof needs repairing and God knows what else in-between. Entering the hall is a pleasure but cannot hide this need.

I had the pleasure to meet Father Turi , the priest of the church. When the parish started to plan, they came up with 4.5 million dollars. Heritage Australia gave them a further headache. The Welsh tiles need to be replaced by Welsh tiles now, from Wales. It will be hard to get sandstone from the quarry the church’s stones are coming from today. The quarry is not operating anymore, it is a piece of land privately owned by Lindsay Fox these days. Still, the sandstone should be sourced as close to its origin as possible.

Today the projected bill stands by around 10 million. Whoever has seen an episode of “Grand Design” knows about the accuracy of the estimates..

So the church considers to repurpose the Community Hall as a childcare centre, to generate income while giving to the community. Which still needs childcare centres. I was happy to find a place for my daughter nearby at Eildon Road Childcare Centre after a long wait many years ago, and the situation has not changed.

Regulations again are not helping. The council surely would welcome a new childcare but it does not want one without a car park. The Eildon Road centre does not have one, as Father Turi  points out. I myself never used the car to go there, peddling through the leafy streets to bring my daughter to the childcrare in the morning.

But that does not discourage the council to insist in the church’s case.

So there will be a car park, most likely. And that incites some locals. So they orchestrated a petition which is now signed by ca. 250 people. However,  many of them are recruited friends of friends, the church suspects. Many of the signatures are not by neighbours.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, so the saying goes. We will see how it pans out. I wish good luck to the church!

Sometimes it’s hard to be a Saint in the city.

Colours of the year

We are moving towards Christmas. Parts of it are the decorations, as the public ones in the private ones, erected by a council or  by people in the neighbourhood.


Colours here too, at a former orphanage in Melbourne. A Loud Fence as a Mea Culpa to victims of sexual abuse. A Royal Commission looking into this found, unfortunately, many cases and a systematic coverup by the upper ranks.

Another colour – or better a full rainbow I found in St.Kilda on my way home, It is 12 months now since the gay marriage bill became reality.

Something completely different: Quilts and tea cosies at a Lavender Farm in the Yarra Valley east of Melbourne.

Over the year, nature provided spectacular colours.

This is as white as Melbourne gets: A hail storm. This year in August, it can happen anytime. A few years back we had it as Christmas Eve.

Another time it looked as being very disastrous for the company I worked with. I was nearby, watching the hail pouring down from the sky, when our servers went offline. A trip to the datacentre left me worried: Customers were not allowed in while the staff was wheeling out water in rubbish bins, a meter high. Nothing we could do than biting our time in a pub nearby until we were allowed to go in. A water bucket on top of our rack prevented the worst for our servers. The roof had sunk in under the weight of the white hail, and it was dripping at various places.

When bushwalking in spring, the surroundings of Melbourne are dressed in subtle colours. But it is lovely to find flowers on the way, left and right of the path taken.

Back in town, there is more.  The bottle brushes are native to our continent and are popular, planted in gardens or lining the road. A great place for lorrikeets to hide!

Spring is also the best time for visiting the Rhododendron Park in the Dandenongs, in Olinda.

Colours here too, at a former orphanage in MelbourneColours here too, at a former orphanage in Melbourne

Again, something different, from an inner suburb, from Fitzroy. Just to show that graffity is not just done for tourists looking around off Flinders Lane..

Nearby a strange place to park some old trains..

That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed it, and I leave you with an always nice view: Watching the sunset, or just a night walk by the sea.

New security laws passed with the help of the Labor Party

New security laws are far from imperfect, as Labor concedes.

However, after some debate the Labor Party agreed to pass them.

Their appearance  in parliament, as required by the Ministry for Silly Walks amendments.

But seriously: Who thinks that the ASIO or the AFP will be the only ones who will use security weaknesses to hack into your electronic communications?

Most of our devices are made in China. Who else may know about ways to go into your phone if they put in some mechanisms which help Australian agencies?

Do you like the idea that there might be ways to hack into your online banking?

Just asking..

Once in a lifetime

A chaotic workplace gave me the opportunity to see David Byrne in Sydney. On Friday I was sent to Sydney to help an office move, and on the weekend I pondered what to do there.

So I stumbled upon his Sydney performance. Months earlier I tried to get tickets for his concert in Melbourne but I only managed to find offers by ticket scalpers for $250 and said: Thank you very much. (BTW: today I heard WA banned ticket scalping. Good on them!)

Sydney had some left and so I ended my Tuesday night by walking over to Darling Harbour. I came from the “backside” and was not impressed at all. It looked like a Costco warehouse to me.

I also “marveled” at a 2 metres high pillar full of pictures with verboten items. A handbag more than 25 cm long or a large umbrella, all verboten. I understand the panic of the Sydneysiders now, with the old ladies running around and robbing around, just like in Monty Python. It added to my feeling of dread when I am in Sydney and hear “if you see an unattended item”  in the train, contact Tony Abbott or Scott Morrison or whoever is running the scare campaign of today. In Berlin I forgot my saxophone once in a bus, and got it back. In Sydney they would blow it up, I am certain by now, and Peter the Dutton would cancel my visa and deport me back to where I came from.

Back to my warehouse. The crowd inside was more of my taste. I was reminded of an article about old people’s fashion recently: The older ones are more punk than young people, they just do not care. So there was colour and there were flowers and their were generations too. As the father who brought his teenage daughter along and surprised her with Kimbra.

Who was not bad but it is a pity to play dance music to a large crowd sitting. I resorted to my oldest trick: Telling the security that my back hurts so I got an exemption and could stand at the end of an aisle.

However, David Byrne saw it in the same way and asked everybody to stand up and dance if she or he feels like it. What many did, it was a party of dancing and clapping and humming and singing.

He played songs from the Talking Heads which I remember well from the Stop Making Sense movie and album, music from his “Latin American period” when I saw him 1992 in Hamburg’s Stadtpark (a good summer party too), from his more recent collaborations e.g. with St. Vincent, and tracks from his most recent American Utopia tour I did not hear before.

He played, he sung, he danced. And not just him, with him the whole band while carrying their instruments around.It was marvelous, it was mesmerising, it was sung well, danced well, played well.

I have never seen anything like this, and all people I met that night left with their own Once in a Lifetime feeling, it seems.

Election day in Victoria

Last Saturday Victoria. my home state, voted.

Everybody has to vote, as long as she/he is Australian citizen. That takes away the pressure to get people to the booths.

They show up in long queues.

I mingled among the party supporters who pitched “how to vote” papers to the voters. I enjoyed to talk with them, as it was clear that all stayed polite and light-hearted, whatever they represented.

The quite popular local Labor Candidate Martin Foley showed up as well. He got nearly 50% of the first preferences.

The Australian system is quite complicated because of the preferences given. If someone’s preferred candidate is out, the vote goes to the candidate named as the second preference and so on. But it is possible  just to tick one party and the preferences flow with the endorsements done by the party to others. From talking to people, I am not sure how many really understand it.

However, there is the democracy sausage, and no event here is complete without a coffee.

Port Melbourne is suburb near the real port and the industrial area. Many many generations of migrants started their lives here.

I met my former Turkish neighbour with his mother, and watched a surprise dialogue in Cantonese, by a woman from Hong Kong who came here in the Sixties and a “mainland Cantonese” who arrived earlier this century.

The evening made me happy, because the Liberals were soundly defeated. Their fearmongering was not successful. Victoria re-elected a premier with a positive message looking into the future.

Worth every cent: The Big Issue

Sunday afternoon, drinking coffee opposite the Basement Discs. Dan Parsons will play on Friday the 30th. The record store hosts Friday lunch concerts regularly.

I am reading a Big Issue magazine with Bon Jovi on its cover. His music has never been my favourite. However, I love the sound of Living On A Prayer. I cannot help but imagine some dinosaurs stomping out of the woods when I hear the riff.

Reading the article about him gives me another dimension to him. He talks about his charity work.

I got this magazine from a man on the street. He sells it on the corner Elisabeth/Collins. The vendor’s tall frame is towering above us. However, I also notice his white eyes which do not see me, or anybody else. I was passing him on the way to the ATM. $20 for the weekend, for a newspaper, a coffee or other small luxuries. The Big Issue, $7, will take a considerable bite of the red note. However, I know that the magazine is always worth the read. In fact, every fortnightly issue is of a quality I rarely find printed here. So, it is not just charity. Although, half of the money goes to the vendor, and the enterprise helps in many ways marginalised people.

He takes my plastic note and asks me about the value. “Twenty”, I tell him It takes some time for him to find the change, and he asks me about my day, as I wonder where he will sleep tonight. He has a small flat near the QV market. After exchanging a few pleasantries we go our ways.

I wonder whether he gets cheated at times. I hope not. It is hard to imagine such behaviour. But unfortunately the mean spirits are out there, from government hassling and threatening unemployed and people in need in many ways, to students who killed a homeless man, a year or two ago.

Here a few words by Jon Bon Jovi: Believe me ladies and gentlemen, nobody woke up and said: “I’ve got a great career path; I want to be a homeless guy in the street.” No, who the fuck wants to do that? Whatever led them to that despair, it wasn’t their first choice growing up.

Melbourne Cup Eve with The Living End

Melbourne Cup is a quirky public holiday – dedicated to a horse race. Every first Tuesday in November at 3 pm the race is on, “The race that stops the nation” – or so they say. A sweep, dressing up, some drinks, some fun with friends, a big day for the city’s milliners it is.

But that is not what I am after. I enjoy the Monday night out. The Princebandroom in St.Kilda has a good show on like every year. This time The Living End, a Melbourne icon around for twenty odd years, and I still have not seen them.

That separates me from the crowd which is singing along at nearly every song,  knows all the tunes, knows all the words.

It starts with support from West Thebarton, a seven piece from Adelaide. Three guitars on stage, with a woman on the drums who drives them.

After that the stage feels empty, a big bass lies to the right, the drum kit in the back, that’s it.

And then the band comes on, and the crowd, friendly so far, gets ecstatic. It is a show in their backyard, as Chris Cheney, singer and guitar player states.

On the other side of the stage Scott Owen plays the bass, and then there is Andy Strachan on the drums, nearly hidden from my view.

Rock’n’Roll with a punk attitude it is, and I enjoy it immensely. The band plays tight, the sound is dense.

I leave the house with the feeling to have seen a great band. I leave with a new double album, colourful vinyl. A signed copy of the last studio record “Wunderbar”, produced in Berlin, and “Live In Europe 2018”. And with a tinnitus that lasts a few days.

Anyway, it was fun.

Here my bonus track: A photo of Courtney Barnett I have seen a few weeks ago in the Festival Hall. I just listen to “Tell me how you really feel”. I hear it the second time. Not as catchy as her first long player, it slowly grows on me.

Progress: Kids off Nauru – and all other refugees too

There is hope, there is progress, the government is acting, after years. Children leave the island! We hope it ends offshore detention soon, including all refugees who languish there.

Five years of campaigning have helped to change the wind. It were horrible years for the refugees, and dark years for the ones who were on their side, as the Doctors Without Borders.

As a long-term supporter of Doctors without Borders (MSF),  Plan International and Amnesty International I am happy about the progress, and a bit proud too.

However, I wish it would never happened. It costed live and damaged others.

May it end very soon. Please help!


A week is a long time in Melbourne.

Last week was PAX, a computer gaming conference.

Among the visitors a well-costumed  crowd of cosplayers.

This young man was dressed up as his favourite  character of a video game. I caught him on the way home. He was longing for jumping into jeans, he told me. The outfit was a bit warm. But nothing beats the fun, he reckons.


Judging The Gatwick – Premiere yesterday

I went home through St.Kilda and saw a small crowd in front of a documentary projected to a wall.

As I figured out, it was the premiere of “Judging The Gatwick”, a story about The Gatwick Private Hotel in St.Kilda on Fitzroy Street, for many years run by the sisters Yvette Kelly and Rose Banks. They provided shelter for less fortunate in our society. It was home, it was run down and there was trouble and occasionally violence too. The twins were working on it since they were 14, when her parents, migrants from Malta owned it.

A complicated story, it seems. As Fitzroy Street itself, home of the homeless, Aboriginal people on grog, a soup van in the evening, close by splendid restaurants, posh apartments and the sea.

If you want to know more about it, maybe visit

Finally, it was sold and ended up with a makeover by Channel Nine’s renovation show The Block. This week the renovated apartments were auctioned. One of them is now the former owners’ home.