Saturday, September 10, 2011

The streets of Richmond

from w
Peceli and I stayed at the Richmond Hill Hotel in Melbourne Friday night. It was time for a brief holiday and a chance to be able to explore the streets where my grandmother lived 130 years ago and where we had spent many Sundays at the Richmond Uniting Church for Fijian services over the years. We wanted to see the changes. The RUC was looking good with nice green paint. It's a simpler building than the Anglican and Catholic churches higher up the hill.

The place we stayed at is about 3 star, quite okay, people friendly, but a bit noisy at night with fire alarms going off in the apartment next door and huge fire trucks arriving! We put on clothes and false teeth and ran down the rabbit warren passages and five lots of stairs to have a sticky-beak. False alarm. Back upstairs, a radio clock alarm went off, then later music like mandolins came wafting down from the ceiling! Ghosts of girls when the place was a YWCA hostel for working girls in the 1880s perhaps!

The old houses in Church Street are mostly renovated and looking good, the shops in Bridge Road were alive with clients and young people (it's football of course - Geelong versus Hawthorn) and also rugby on TV in the pubs. Small single fronted cottages in parts of Richmond, once for working people, would now be sold for about $800,000. Amazing!

I took a photo of the RUC manse with the references to Papua New Guinea for the time our dear friend Rev Aminiasi was there. We had a good laugh when we saw that the peppercorn tree in the compound was alive and well. Once upon a time Peceli's car got hemmed in when someone locked up the gate near the manse and we couldn't get out except by driving over a little peppercorn tree about half a foot high. Isa lei the trouble it caused. We got a bill for $33 for a replacement. Heaven's sake - one peppercorn seed! I don't think we ever coughed up. Anyway there's a tree thriving there now.

But there's one kind of building - from maybe the 1860s - that I find really spooky and horrible - the heavy stone double storey mansions that would be good as the set of a movie where weird things happen. I always wonder what secrets these dark wall could tell.

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