Some impressions about living in the World's Most Livable City

A couple of year's ago we who inhabit Mdbourne were told it was the World's Most Livable City. There are lots of Victorians who would agree that their State's Capital city is indeed a very pleasant place to call home. For those Victorians who have moved permanently interstate or overseas and thus abandoning the WMLC, it has prubably been for reasons of employment.

When I was eleven, my father'sjob was re-located to Melbourne- so we leit Adelaide (the Capital of South Australia) to live in Melhourne. My first impressions of Melbourne were biased. After a nine-hour drive along the Princes Highway from Adelaide we entered the Western Suburbs on the outskirts of Melbourne. I vividly remember the dingy factories and down-at-heel houses that lined the highway in the Western Suburbs. I thought Melbourne was far uglier than her sister city Adelaide because all of the poor residential and commercial acreage covered with tar and cement; industrial blocks that marred the skyline.

I did not know that I was making the fundamental mistake ofiudging the city on her Western geographic area - which are notorious (as with most cities in the world for some reason) fur being on the "wrong side of the railway tracks". Although my family took up residence in Brighton, a beachside suburb in Melbourne's East - which was up-market, and the family home is still there, my attitude to the Western suburbs has now back-flipped and if I was to choose a place to settle, it would be among those factories. Over the year's I have discovered that in these down-at-heel suburbs there is far more change and interest to entertain one than in the aesthetic, orderly, nice but static suburbs in the East. For another reason, propetty prices are much more affordable, and the ability to reach the central business district is much easier because there is less distance to cover. The Fastern suburbs have "mushroomed" and spread to over 40 kilometers or more from the CBD, while the Western suburbs have stretched about 25 kilometers out. The Western suburbs also have a higher migrant population - along with their imported cultural baggage the food in restaurants, markets, shops and community developments (like mosques) and happenings (music, art and craft festivals etc).

It has now been over 30 year's since I moved to the WMLC - and each year Melbourne's magnetic force to stay awhile longer increases - not that I too entertain the idea to move to a better job in another city. A decade ago I left Melbourne for a year- to live in the State Capital of Tasmania, hobart. Nestling at the base of Mt. Wellington, Hobart is a peaceful place picturesque and unpolluted. However I missed Melboume's cultural and urban variety - so much to do... too much at times... that I returned and have not left since.

In Melbourne we have many, many parks and gardens - in fact a few year's ago most of our vehicle's number plates carried the slogan "Garden State". Since then our Liberal Premier - who is such a capitalist-economic rationalist - replaced that with "on the move". He was so in tune - because many Melbournians were moving - away to other state's to find jobs and a better future - because unemployment has been on the increase since the '87 recession. Nevertheless the city's gardens have not been moved like the good citizens - and in fact under the "benevolence" of this Premier- Melbourne's lakeside parkland has been turned into a Grand Prix circuit. This re-development of public parklands into the hands of race organisers who limit public access for some of the year during the Grand Prix season, was staunchly opposed by a conservative, environmental lobby group who wanted to keep the parkland free and undeveloped - but they lost.

Melbourne's most famous parkland "the Botanical Gardens" have been undermined by commercial development, and as I write this we are having a tunne] and toll-way constructed under part of the Gardens and Yarra River to enhance traffic flow. Under the leadership of this Premier (who some like me love to hate) we have seen a burgeoning of gambling and gaming houses - that extend from the new river-side "Crown Casino" in the CBD out to the suburbs - where hotels and clubs have installed entertainment rooms - housing poker machines etc. Such greed to fill the coffers of the Government through taxes on the gaming industry., has led to social discord - problem gamblers, dissatisfied small business oper~rs who have lost clients' cash to the new 'get-rich-quick' pursuits.