New camera

Obviously the best camera you have is the one you have with you.

Normally that’s my phone. Sometimes I’ll also have my ~4 year old Canon IXUS 115, which is compact, but takes some great photos.

But for my birthday I treated myself to a DSLR, a Canon 700D (spotted on sale + cashback offer + birthday contribution from family + birthday present to myself = hard to resist), and have been snapping away during lunchtime walks. Here’s a couple of pics from earlier this week with a telephoto lens borrowed from one of my sons. (We’re definitely a Canon family.)

Footbridge, Princes Bridge, MCG, Melbourne

Looking north up Queen Street, Melbourne

More to come, you can be sure of it.

View of the city from the outer west

If you catch a train towards Geelong, just after Deer Park, where the train branches off the Ballarat line to head south, you’ll see a great view of the city on your left.

Melbourne city, viewed from Regional Rail Link near Tarneit
(View it larger)

Against the bluey-grey skyline, the wheel stands out of course, as do the silos in Kensington-ish. In the foreground is lots of housing from the Derrimut area, and obviously construction going on.

I should probably try it again with a telephoto lens.

By the way, new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made a point of talking about the importance of cities while announcing his new cabinet today. Jamie Briggs was appointed as Cities And The Built Environment Minister.

Turnbull also talked about transport, and made a point implicitly criticising Abbott’s roads-only “knitting” policy — saying that Federal investment in transport shouldn’t discriminate against particular modes. Good, that’s a big step forward.

St Kilda Road and Swanston Street

I for one welcome our new public-transport-loving overlord.

As recently as Friday, new Prime Minister-designate Malcolm Turnbull was riding trams in Melbourne:

It’s great that — unlike Tony Abbott — we now have a PM who understands the importance of public transport, as well as other issues such as carbon emissions — though Turnbull has notably said he won’t be changing the government’s stance on the latter.

Here’s a view from later on Friday, around lunchtime, looking north along St Kilda Road and Swanston Street.

For those who aren’t local, that black and white building forming a face is the William Barak building, named for the elder of the Wurundjeri, traditional owners of this land.

Swanston Street/St Kilda Road, looking north from the Shrine, Melbourne
(See it bigger)

This corridor will change markedly in the next ten years, partly aboveground, partly underground, as the Melbourne Metro tunnel gets built. In the short term particularly, much of Swanston Street will be re-routed and closed during construction.

Perhaps with a new PM who is not so roads-focussed as Abbott, it might even get Federal funding.

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New architecture intruding on old

From the Victorian Heritage Database:

The school building was sited for optimal viewing from Alexander[sic] Avenue. The low lying land in the foreground was utilized for a sports oval and the land in between was terraced with steps, paths and roadways. This resulted in uninterrupted views of the impressive building from the north and west. The school has carefully maintained this uninterrupted skyline by limiting the height of all subsequent buildings and locating them to the east and south of the main building.

Well, so much for that then.

Melbourne High School (January 2015)

At a reunion a few years ago, they warned us that this building was coming. At the time I looked at the artist’s impression and thought: no way would someone allow that monstrosity to ruin the view.

But they did. That’s not CGI, that’s how it looks today from the street and/or the passing train.

In fact, it about at its best in that photo. In duller light, it just looks like a rusty blob.

I’m not normally one to cling to the past — progress is important — but so is heritage, and I think that’s a bit of a shame.

There’s another building, out of shot, a respectable distance to the right.

I know this area of South Yarra is growing rapidly, and I know there are cases like this right across Melbourne and the rest of the western world… but I hope the grand old school building isn’t going to get completely dominated by new stuff.

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Bentleigh: old real estate ads

I was looking on the State Library’s web site for material related to my local suburb, and found these old real estate ads.

This one is from back when Bentleigh was called East Brighton. It’s dated 1885. It’s the area immediately to the east of the railway station, which opened in 1881, and was renamed to Bentleigh in 1907, the year after the local post office was renamed.
Ad for East Brighton Estate (Bentleigh)
(Source: State Library, Victoria)

Note that Bent Street had that name well before the area was named Bentleigh.

130 years later, this area immediately around the station is subject to a lot of real estate ads again, as many of the houses are being replaced by apartment developments. Being close to the station is obviously still an advantage.
Bentleigh development, 2015

On the other side of the railway line, closer to what is now Nepean Highway, was the Zion Hill estate. This ad is also from 1885. Note it implies it is much closer to Brighton than it really is — it’s actually far closer to East Brighton/Bentleigh. Some real estate agents were obviously in the habit even back then of exaggerating.
Ad for Zion Hill estate, Bentleigh 1885
(Source: State Library, Victoria)

Further south east from the station was the Marriott Estate. The date is unclear, but it’s assumed to be 1920s.
Ad for Marriot Estate (Bentleigh)
(Source: State Library, Victoria)

Note again the location of the estate. If you didn’t spot the small gap in the road markings, you’d assume it was a quick walk from both Bentleigh and Moorabbin railway stations (Patterson station didn’t open until 1961), but actually it’d be at least a fifteen minute walk.

Zoom up on the photo at the bottom-left and we can see a group of “recently erected” shops at Bentleigh. This is looking west towards the railway line, from roughly where Target is now. A support for the railway overhead electric wire is visible in the background, meaning this would be 1920s or later — electrification occurred in 1922.
Bentleigh shops, 1920s

The track in the foreground was used to guide heavily laden carts full of produce going to market, and manure on the way back, one of a number of such “tram” tracks built in the area.

Here’s a similar view today:
Bentleigh, Centre Road, 2015

There’s some interesting stuff in the State Library collection, much of it online — well worth a look if you’re researching local history.