As my walking program continues, I'm getting to know my neighbourhood better and better. The less I focus on the fitness aspect and the more I think about where I want to go and what I want to see, the more enjoyable I find it and the less I feel like piking.Today I decided, on the spur of the moment, to catch the bus up to Coburg, have a look around at the old buildings on the corner of Bell Street and then walk back home through Pentridge Village. My new favourite walk. It has everything I could want, trees and plants, big sky views, history (quite old post colonial history even by Australian standards), derelictia, great plays of light, strange new suburbia, suburbia that has been there for a while and is growing into itself, very new and under construction dwellings. It's also the sort of place where you think you'll get lost or enter a dead end but is actually very pedestrian friendly. This afternoon I discovered a whole new series of vistas and painted walls. The walls are my favourites I think, hinting at stories I can only imagine.
I'm somewhat ambivalent about Pentridge Prison being redeveloped as a housing estate. According to the wikipedia entry, the developers of the top, northern half which contains most of the bluestone are trying to sideline the history of the site so that they can make it more marketable as housing. And I get why they would want to do that. Not saying that it's necessarily right, because the less pleasant aspects of our history are just as important as fun things like pools and lovely buildings, but you know, who wants to live in a place that looks like a prison? The old Pentridge doesn't look anything how I imagine a modern prison would look and I suspect would be quite unsuitable as a prison these days. And yet, it doesn't quite work as a housing development site either. I think if I were going to live there, I would prefer to live in either a modern apartment or in one of the suburban houses in the more cosy/daggy southern end. Not in one of the old buildings that have been refurbished. There's not that many of those, but there is a row that although they look quite funky, have a distinct prison like feel. I found myself wondering if the history would seep through the walls. Would you lie in bed at night and feel the ghosts of convicts and felons drifting across your slumber? Or would domesticity and new energy dominate?
On another topic, have you seen 52 suburbs? No? Then pop on over. I love this site. It's a beautiful photo tour through a different Sydney suburb each week. I get very excited when this pops up on my feedreader.