I first came to Coburg seven years ago, crawling out of the Bell Street train station early on a Monday morning, desperately looking for any possible way to supress the hangover I was nursing. After a quick freshen up – a term I’d use loosely for my attempts that morning – at a friend’s house, I ventured onto the streets (Sydney Road specifically) in search of delicious carbs to soak up the excess alcohol floating about in my system. From the moment I began looking about, I fell in love – and not just because there was some form of bread from every culture on earth within walking distance; I was excited by the view of the city skyline from the Bell Street Sydney Road intersection, the bustle of the community living their life and the energy of the suburb, like nothing you’d ever find in quiet old Adelaide. I was sold, and a year later I was calling this place home. I quicky realised that the area had a personality all of its own; I had never lived somewhere that felt like it was so alive in every aspect and so distinctive from the places around it – a very Melbourne way for a suburb to be, I soon discovered. I was in love with Coburg, quirks and all.
But, after six years, two apartments and more Labneh pizza than one person should healthily consume in their lifetime, I need to say goodbye. Look, I’m not exactly going far, in fact the new place is only a 12-minute drive, but in Melbourne terms that may as well be miles away.
All of this change got me reminiscing about this place that I’ve called home for the past while, thinking about just what makes it unique and what it means to be a local, so I began to construct a list. It’s certainly not comprehensive and without being exclusive, I’d hazard to guess that any long-term resident (colloquially known as a Coburger) could relate to the following…
- You have a go-to favourite out of Afghan Charcoal Kebab and Melbourne Kebab Station (but you know that the kebabs are actually better at Muzzys…)
- You’ve witnessed a crime unfolding right before your eyes
- Despite point number 2, you’ve always felt safe, even walking home late at night
- You’re not ashamed to admit that you’ve witness pigeons banging in Victoria Mall more times than you’ve had sex yourself
- You’ve encountered (and are probably friends with) a person who spends more money caring for their rescue greyhound than it cost for your parents to raise you
- You’ve developed multiple theories about the true operating nature of the many jewellery stores along Sydney Road
- You’ve lay awake in bed on any given night of the week listening to the sound of fireworks and just wondered “but why?”
- You’ve visited the Bell Street doctor for any completely random ailment and always walked away with a painkiller prescription that you’re not sure if you want or need
- You’ve wandered along Merri Creek after a heavy rain and spotted a bike lodged in a tree
- You know that it’s a dead heat between Coburg Charcoal King and Tasty Rooster for the title of ‘World’s Best Chips’ and so you often grab a serve from each, just to cover all bases
- You know exactly where this photo was taken:
- You have at least one “classic story” involving an incident that occurred in the number 19
- You love the idea of the Farmers Market and think it’s damn nice, but your wallet sensibly draws you back to the Coburg Market for fruit and veg every time
- You know that the Post Office and Woodlands are both a great choice, but you’ve gone out of your way to get a vanilla slice at the Drums
- In the same way that Australian’s broadly stick to a made up story about Drop Bears, all Coburgers spin a similar yarn about Bin Chicken Island
- You always carry cash on you just in case you get home late and need to make a stop by Uncle Joes
- You do wonder how so many local businesses have managed to defiantly stay ‘cash only’ – but then you quickly remember where you are
- You’ve wandered past a group of people anxiously waiting to begin the Pentridge Ghost Tour and you’ve probably got at least one friend who had a relative locked up in the very same prison some years ago
- You don’t line up for fancy overpriced food at excessively hyped city restaurants, but you do line up to get into the Olympic Swimming Pool on a hot day (or you’ve set your alarm to make sure you’re right at the front and avoid the rush)
- You learned never to ask if or why there are more helicopters around than usual.
Without a doubt, there is so very much that I have missed. Everything shared is out of so much love and respect for this special part of the world, for its people, places and community spirit, something that I am truly thankful for and will miss with all my heart.