St Kilda Beach

Inspired by various Aussie-themed posts from Lilly, Dee, Le and June I thought I might do an Aussie post myself. The thing is, Australia is very big. Where would I start? Then I thought I'd do a post on Melbourne, which is not where I was born but it's where I live now. I know shamefully little about the place, but a cursory bit of investigation made me realise that narrowing it down to 'Melbourne' is still a pretty big undertaking. So today we're taking a trip to St Kilda beach, which is not all of Melbourne by any means but it's a nice part of it.

St Kilda was first settled in 1839 and named in 1841 by then governor Charles La Trobe. In the 1880s it was a fashionable area filled with stone mansions and large, expensive hotels. People started leaving the area during the Depression and by the end of WWII it had become Melbourne's red-light district (ie, where all the prostitutes hang out). In the 1960s St Kilda became one of Melbourne's leading gay and lesbian residential areas and in the late 70s and early 80s it also became home to many other 'subcultures' - punks, artists and musicians, to name a few. Since housing prices have started soaring St Kilda is becoming 'gentrified' once more and people from lower socio-economic groups are slowly being pushed out.

Walking along the Esplanade on any day you are likely to run into goths, yuppies, tourists, bohemian artists, beach bums, businessmen and drunks. St Kilda's history gives it a wonderfully eclectic air that I just love, and I'd be very sad to see that disappear into another beachside resort area.

This is the entrance to Luna Park. The Park opened in 1912 with rides around the outside and live acts in the middle. Its fortunes have risen and fallen over the years - it closed during both wars - and now it contains a few rides and various other ways to waste your money. Frankly, I find that face downright unsettling.

This is the Palais Theatre. It was originally a dance hall, which later moved next door and then burned down. This Palais became a picture theatre and is now a live performance venue. I've read two different reports, one of which says this is the original building, built in 1919, and another which says this is the rebuilt Palais, built in 1927. I'm content to say that this is the Palais, built some time before 1930. Whenever it was built, it's a great example of art deco architecture and I'm ignoring the fact that it is right across the road from Luna Park and that horrible face.

Ahhh... the beach. This is taken from the pier looking back towards the beach.

One of the reasons I love this beach is because of the boardwalk, which runs all the way along the beach. This means that people like me, who hate the sand, can still take a relaxing walk and enjoy looking at the ocean.

Two girls from the Surf Patrol. I asked if I might take their photo and they said, "Sure... but don't you want to be in the picture too?" I looked at them - young, bronzed, bursting with fitness and energy - and looked down at me - pale, flabby, probably twice their age - and decided a photo of them would be sufficient. Sigh.

Another shot from the pier showing the Melbourne city skyline in the distance.

I didn't get a photo of this, but a couple of blocks over from the beach is Acland St, which contains some of the best cafes I know... as well as lots of hippy, crystal-selling shops, some sex shops and a very grotty pub. Like I said - eclectic!

Hope you've enjoyed the tour. I'll try to think of somewhere different for next time.


Dee from Downunder said...

Thanks for the link and the tour. Even though I grew up in Melbourne, we never went to St Kilda that I can remember... must be its reputation preceeding it at the time.

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

Ah St Kilda. You forgot to mention the cakes on Acland Street - Yum!

Femina said...

Oh, the cakes! Believe me I haven't forgotten them... but I restrained myself from buying any today. (I also managed to resist a $350 bag at the Esplanade Market - seriously, who spends $350 at the markets??)

Lilly's Life said...

Thanks for the link. I thought this was really interesting. I really, really like Melbourne. I so loved your comment about the Surf Patrol girls too - yes by the look sof them I wouldnt be getting in their way for a photo either...great post! Hey yes, that must have been some bag - you are right who spends that at the markets.

roybe said...

Nice photo's of St Kilda. It brings back memories for me . when I first arrived in Australia in 1966 (10pound Pom)my friend and I stayed in a boarding house at St Kilda Junction. Of course it's vastly changed since then. We always have cakes in Ackland street when we go. lovely to hear you felt peace and a closeness to God in the rhododendron gardens. The Still small voice is very comforting.

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