Quo Vadis?

[Frame from Tintin In America]
Tintin In America (1932): A comic with a message. Page 29 – within hours of oil being discovered, the local native Americans are booted out and an entire city is built.

There is a bit of Tintin in America where the discovery of oil sees the development of an entire city overnight.

The QV project (Queen Victoria, after the former hospital that was on the site) hasn’t quite sprung up overnight. It’s been a few years in the making, but until earlier this month maintained the look of your average (well okay, humungous) building site. Dirt, big machines and lots of men in hard hats running around.

Just in the last few weeks it’s started to change from being a building site to buildings. Suddenly the scaffolding came away and the new BHP Billiton HQ appeared on Lonsdale Street, all gleaming metal and glass, with revolving doors, a massive entrance hallway, a big enquiries desk and security checkpoint leading to unknown treasures beyond.

And this week, underground elsewhere in the centre, a Safeway and a Big W have opened, bringing a hitherto suburban shopping experience into the heart of the city. In an idle half hour I decided to take a look. Friendly staff pointed the way through a series of uncompleted arcades, down escalators, and suddenly there they were. Woolworths’ prize double – a fully stocked Safeway supermarket and Big W discount department store.

The lunchtime mob of curious besuited office workers made Big W’s patrons look more affluent than ever before. I wandered in, the huge DVD sign directly down from the entrance pulling me in like a magnet. Sadly the DVD collection was just like that of any other Big W store – wholly unimpressive, big on blockbusters but lacking in anything interesting, and not as cheap as they might be either. I looked around, decided it was just like any other Big W store, and made for the exit.

As I walked out a family came down the escalator, and went straight back up again. Either they were employed by QV to make the place look busier than it was, or they didn’t like what they saw at the bottom. No matter. A variety of food outlets are open, or just about to open (can I just take a geek moment at this point to mention that the Mrs Fields web site uses cookies?) and as the rest of the development gets running, it promises to bring more variety and vitality to the city centre, which is surely a good thing.

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