Olly's odyssey: Moving West to North
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
What is it like to move to North Fitzroy from other 'hoods? A west-sider lets us know
By Olly Tripodi
I’ve always considered myself to be a dye in the wool west-sider, but after last year’s inertia it was time for a change.There’s only so many times a man can circumnavigate the block before an existential restlessness sets in.
Hence, I made the West to North commute, leaving behind my beloved West Footscray and all of the oddities that endeared it to me. I farewelled my proximity to $4 Bahn Mi, the Sunbury Train line and the familiar waft of the Maribyrnong River. And, traded it in for North Fitzroy livin’ – the prospect of year-round wearing of Birkenstocks and lining up for loaves of bread with a paper under my arm.
I can’t confess to having any sort of depth of understanding about the inner north. My early twenties were peppered with nights out on Brunswick Street and Lygon Street, dotting between bars and fueling up on miscellaneous slow cooked meat between venues. More adventurous west-siders that I knew would occasionally sprawl in Edinburgh Gardens on lazy Summer days, while I would wonder (from Footscray) why they didn’t want to do the same at Williamstown beach.
So with this wholly two dimensional understanding of Fitzroy under my belt, my friends and I rented a gorgeous old terrace share house just off Queen’s Parade, behind Edi Gardens – and we are bloody loving it.
There’s very much a ‘best of everything’ vibe floating around North Fitzroy, as I career my lazy Saturday morning from Mitte Café, to the Merri Creek, and finally to an outdoor table at the Marquis of Lorne. I find myself wandering through backstreets peering into warehouse conversions that might be art galleries – or God willing, future rave destinations.
"I made the West to North commute, leaving behind Footscray and all the oddities that endeared it to me"
I’ve stumbled across seemingly impromptu arts and cultural events occupying streets and sidewalks. As I’ve wandered by, I’ve attempted to open my pores to better absorb the vibrancy that seems to emanate from cool community events.
I love the wide streets and beautiful old houses that are as likely to be the home of an unruly collection of undergraduate students as that of a young family. We’ve befriended our genial neighbors on both sides, creating a sense of micro community as well as (hopefully) insulating us from noise complaints whenever raucous house parties are permissible again.
Two out of the three baristas operating the machine at my favorite café know my name, which I’m quietly pleased with. In instances of heavy rain, I know which sub-paths along the Merri will be too wet, and which routes will offer surer footing. The search for North Fitzroy’s best UberEats option remains ongoing, but I look forward to consolidating a short list for next month’s edition of The Rotunda...
Of course, ‘community’ is more than a recitation of great places to eat and to spend time. It’s the sometimes hard to articulate things that you feel. A smile exchanged with a stranger, a lemon offered gratis by the elderly Greek couple around the corner, an oddly sincere appraisal from the friendly staff at Piedmontite’s: “You look tired”.
When my housemate and I kick the footy in the park, we’re sure to come across friendly dogs and even friendlier owners, keen to say g’day and have a sniff at the ball (the dog).
My time as a resident in this neck of the woods so far has been joyous, inclusive and warm.
When I moved across town after a relatively dismal 2020, I had hoped to experience a new part of Melbourne and a much-needed change of pace. Instead, what I’ve found is a community. And as such, it comes as no surprise to me that North Fitzroy is probably the only suburb boasting a new community newspaper as print journalism elsewhere ebbs.
There’s certainly something special in the air around here, and it’s not just the intoxicating aroma which radiates so seductively from the premises of Super Tasty Rooster.