How can a place shape a person? Inner-city Melbourne is closely intertwined with the personal history of author Sophie Cunningham who explores her Melbourne in the book of the same name.
Part memoir, part social history, the book covers the course of the year 2009, a year marked at the beginning by Black Saturday bushfires, and towards the end by Geelong winning the AFL Grand Final (huzzah!).
Roads, transport, natural history and planning are highlighted along the way, as is the legacy of Melbourne’s original inhabitants.
An interesting chapter was the exploration of Melbourne underground, starting in Hawthorn. What was funny was to read of Sophie’s somewhat panicked reaction to being back in the suburb in which she had grown up, and her sharing her fear with her companion, Jeff Sparrow, also an inner-city individual who originally hailed from another middle-class suburb.
The book is part of a series in which authors were invited to write about the Australian state capitals,
It is not my history of Melbourne, not having grown up in Melbourne, but rather commuted in, or lived in the suburbs. The inner city and CBD, though has been part of my student and working life, and there are many aspects of the book which strike a key with me.
I recently had dinner with some friends in Carlton and had to dash for the train back to Ballarat. I headed up Elgin to Swanston Street, where I could grab a tram at the terminus outside Melbourne Uni. The facades of the buildings may have significantly altered since I was there nearly 20 years ago, but in that the tram ride, surrounded by students, I felt I was home again. Melbourne is a place that will always be part of you.