My first experience of Melbourne was the inner east. Hawthorn, Kew, Camberwell. Box Hill was out there. Nunawading was another universe away. Being in inner city Melbourne or as I call it Melbourne Proper meant Trams and Trains.
To get anywhere, where anything was happening was only a Tram or Train ride away. I was seventeen with no inclination to get my drivers license. Why would I pay all that money to get a car? I could get there by an interconnected public transport system. For heaps less money.
Out East, You Drive
Since then I have lived in country Victoria, and currently reside out in Melbourne’s Eastern suburbs. Springvale Road is to my West, the Dandenong Ranges loom large to my East. There are two-ish train lines that operate in the area and the buses.
Out here North of Dandenong and West of Springvale Road kids are desperate to get their license as early as possible. The train ride to Melbourne City is forty minutes, when the express works. Breakdowns and delays when they hit can make travel time from the city extend by hours. Easier to just drive.
Much like country Victoria the train is the last option and even then you might as well not. Melbourne’s outer East is not as well serviced like Melbourne proper. Though now in Covid-times Melbourne proper, especially the North and West is the last place you want to be.
Proper Melbourne in my opinion is an area bound in the north by Bell Street, to the West by Footscray Station, to the south by North Road and the East by Blackburn Rd. This is where the interconnected public transport begins to not be so interconnected.
Within Melbourne Proper you can still make it to the MCG without having to leave home before 11am. When you do finally decide to go home you know the connecting tram, bus will still be operating when you get off at your station.
Living in this secluded part of Melbourne has been a boon during Covid. Even in 2020 when Melbourne was rife with the first variant, East of Melbourne north of Dandenong had less cases. Please have a look at the spread in Melbourne and how it has run its course.
It has commonly started in the West, moved to the North and then down the South Eastern Freeway to Dandenong. Yet even now under lockdown number six the Yarra Ranges and Lilydale regions have not reported a huge outbreak. Why?
Less Covid Out East
One is the lack of faith and dearth of public transport. The other is no main freeway supporting transport and trucking routes. Also no large centralised industrial centre like Dandenong. People around here do not go to the city except for concerts, nightclubs and major sporting events. All of which are not happening.
Housing development around here is restricted due to the proximity of the Dandenong Ranges and existing housing. There is little flat land for maximum development. Houses are built in what was once the backyard. If the plot is the old quarter acre then a few town houses get built.
Distance, lack of and ill will towards public transport. No major freeway, and reluctance to travel into the city. A growing but not huge population area. Houses, most still with backyards. Add to this local parkland or state/national parks nearby. People out here tend to stay here. If they go anywhere else to live it is usually further north or east.
Will The Pattern Continue
These are my observations. They are nothing but a view from where I live. I am sure there are pockets within Melbourne proper with next to no cases but I do not live there. Communication between areas is limited. Especially when your social cohort lives in the same region.
Lack of public transport, lack of major freeways, no centralised industrial zone. Large amount of state/national parks. Restricted housing development and low population density. Add a population that eschews the city and habitually drives everywhere.
I am sure there are more factors to add to the list. It is just that when you look at the area, all those factors are positives right now. As the Victorian State government finally gives up on the goal of zero cases, I wonder if the pattern will emerge again.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.