I love Fitzroy pool. I walk past it every Saturday morning on my way to yoga, which is right next door. In winter, I am in awe of the stalwarts who plough up its lanes, appearing and disappearing beneath the mist that shrouds the pool. And yesterday, with the early-morning summer sunlight sparkling in the water, it looked so beautiful that I couldn't resist taking a photo.
I love Fitzroy pool because 'we' saved it. In 1994, this unique inner-city oasis, just shy of its centenary, was scheduled for demolition. A petition with 14,000 signatures was handed to the council. And a huge protest, including a six-week long occupation (when a hard-core group of locals chained and handcuffed themselves to machinery) saved the day. I'm still buoyant about it.
And finally, I love Fitzoy pool because its most well-know feature - its warning sign: Danger Deep Water Aqua Profonda
- contains an endearing mistake, and a multicultural one at that.
|Aqua (Latin) Profonda (Italian)|
Back in the 1950s, nearby Carlton's population was 30% Italian. The claim was that, living there, you could do all your shopping in Italian, no English required - though clearly that didn't apply to signage. The other claim was that after Athens and New York, Melbourne was the next largest Greek city in the world.
I'm sure that's why, as a young Australian travelling in Europe, I felt such a strong sense of familiarity - especially in Italy. One whiff of pizza in Florence and I was back in Lygon street.
Our city has continued to be blessed, as waves of immigrants (at least those the government favours) have made it their home. And as well as their wonderful cuisines to flavour our lives, they bring their music.
Walk through Melbourne's CBD any day and within mere metres of each other you can be entertained by West African Djambe drummers, Andean pan pipers or Russian violinists.
Last night, when I heard from my sister, Jane, that the nearby Fairfield Ampitheatre was host to a free concert entitled 'Basque in the Sun', I rushed to pack the picnic basket. Because we love Spanish music. And the Basque region and its surrounds is one of our favourite parts of Spain, especially for walking.
|Basque countryside - a walker's paradise|
As it turned out, the concert didn't really feature Basque music. Performers were from all around the globe and the music was eclectic, but great fun. The passion of flamenco reverberated up the tiers of seats:
There was a French jazz and burlesque group, whose curvaceous heavily-pregnant lead singer amazed me by performing in staggeringly high heels.
The final act was a 'Euro gypsy dance band'. We were too chicken to join in, but lots of kids and some brave adults danced wildly on the bluestone dance floor. The woman below was a fabulous mover:
|Dressed to impress|
Throughout the evening, the MC asked people in the audience to teach the crowd a few words in their own language. Volunteers from the Basque region, Korea, China and elsewhere shared their version of "G'day". As I sat beneath the gum trees in view of the marvellous Yarra, surrounded by my sister's friends who hail from so many different parts of the world, I felt very grateful to be living in multicultural Melbourne.