Find your next favorite book

Become a member today and read free for 30 days
Kingston My City

Kingston My City

Read preview

Kingston My City

141 pages
1 hour
Nov 14, 2015


Twenty personal essays from a community writing group about the Victorian city of Kingston, Australia. Their observations and experience span several decades and the book celebrates Mordialloc Writers' 20th anniversary.

Nov 14, 2015

About the author

Related to Kingston My City

Related Books
Related Articles

Book Preview

Kingston My City - Mordialloc Writers group


Location! Location! Location! - Mordialloc, the Place for Me

Mairi Neil

belong - (of a person) fit in a specified place or environment.

In 2014, as I prepared to celebrate my 61st birthday, I realised I’d lived thirty years in Mordialloc – half of my life – not only in the same locality, but in the same house.

How could this be? I certainly didn’t look so far into the future when I moved here. Although like most people, I need to feel a sense of belonging: a part of a family, the community, a culture, the wider population. Close relationships, forming friendships, reaching out or being invited in, all contribute to feeling loved and valued: fundamental attributes to a sense of happiness and wellbeing.

Most life journeys require navigation through difficult as well as joyful times. The ‘hatch, match and despatch’ events, and I’ve experienced them all in Mordialloc. I’ve found security, stability and support services when needed. Health and happiness inextricably linked to so many others in the municipality. Friendships created with people who share common interests, or aspirations, as well as history.

Acquaintances made – people who briefly passed through or touched my life at a particular time, and myriads of officials and workers, just ‘doing their job’. I tell my writing students, stories are about people. It’s the characters we remember, how they make us feel, how we care about them, engage with their story, and how they change or influence us to change. And so it is with life.

Separated from my Scottish birthplace at nine years old, when my family migrated to Australia in 1962, I often felt like an uprooted tree. Croydon, where the family settled was considered semi-rural and as different to the shipbuilding town of Greenock as the Sahara is to Cairo. Surrounded by empty blocks and pot-holed roads we really did live in ‘a home among the gum trees’.

I went to ANU in Canberra and after a couple of years dropped out to travel the world, romanticised about a gypsy lifestyle, did the ‘70s thing’ and joined the backpacking exodus, but returned to Australia to finish tertiary education and to my five siblings and parents.

In 1984, on my first visit to Mordialloc, I walked to the seashore with soon-to-be husband John, to discuss the house Ann Dalton from Phillips & Nicholson had shown us. I loved the palm trees and an almost empty Main Street bathed in a relaxed village atmosphere -such a contrast to cramped Greville Street, Prahran where we lived.

On reaching a decrepit pier, we watched the wind blow sand across a low-lying, bluestone, sea-wall – all the way back to Main Street. Sparse vegetation and soil erosion obvious, along with a definite pong from nearby Mordialloc Creek. Yet, I was completely charmed by the clink and creak of boat moorings, the cry of gulls circling above, and a wide expansive bay stretching towards a distant horizon. The scene, a balm to my Celtic soul and reminiscent of childhood walks by the River Clyde in Scotland, and picnics by Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

I needed to live near water, to have the breathing space the sea and foreshore promised. In twenty-first century slang, the choice between our rented one-bedroom box in Prahran and buying a traditional house and quarter acre block in Mordialloc, a ‘no brainer’!

We stood on the pier, deep ocean breaths filling our lungs; the taste and smell of salt tantalising on a refreshing breeze. Overhead, an aerial ballet of white and black wing-tips brightened a grey sky as sea-gulls and gannets pirouetted and swooped. Although a winter’s day, a handful of children built sandcastles on the long stretch of beach wending citywards and searched for shells and crabs among the rocky apron below the pier. Our future beckoned.

This is where we belong,’ I said to John.

The weight of his arm reaffirming as he cuddled me close. In a lover’s link, we walked back to the estate agent’s to sign on the dotted line for the ‘renovator’s delight’ in Albert Street. We invested in our new home while various councils and community groups over several years cleaned the Creek, restored the pier, improved foreshore and Main Street amenities, developed play equipment and BBQ facilities and enticed tourists with annual festivals and special events. Mordialloc, a well-polished jewel in Kingston’s crown; 21 Albert Street, our homely treasure.

Proud citizens of the world and with many happy memories of travelling, John and I married in the garden of Albert Street on 25th May, 1985, our ‘match’ celebrated by the skirl of bagpipes. We made sure all the neighbours within a circle of annoyance received invitations! This helped foster and cement relationships; some of which remain today although they’ve moved to different areas.

21 Albert Street 1984

Between 2006 and 2011, 41.7% of people aged 5 years and over had changed their residence.’

2011 Census, Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Statisticians claim that in Australia, we move house, on average, once every six years. This mobility, a town planner’s nightmare because the more volatile a population, the more a community is prone to disarray. I can’t speak for elsewhere, but in my immediate locality there are others here for more than a decade, and some who settled at the same time, or even before me. Perhaps confirming Benjamin Disraeli’s opinion: 'There are three types of lies -lies, damn lies, and statistics.'

However, I witness changing demographics as well as the familiar, from my window looking onto the thoroughfare to Mordialloc Railway Station and Main Street. Over the decades, predominantly Anglo-Saxon features joined by Eastern European, Mediterranean, Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islander…multicultural vibrancy!

I’d ‘hatched’ my youngest daughter, Mary Jane, at the Mordialloc Bush Nursing Hospital in 1989. As she was preparing for school in 1993, I helped produce Mordialloc Multicultural Delights, a cookery book to raise funds for Mordialloc Primary School’s 125th Anniversary. The book showcases favourite recipes from the 175 families who represented twenty-four different countries.

My blue-eyed, blonde-haired oldest daughter, Anne with Anglo-Celtic-Scandanavian ancestry, shares the cover with children whose lineage includes: Australia, Trinidad & Tobago, Philippines, Indonesia, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Scotland, England, and Ireland.

In 2015, as I walk the dog, I admire the extensively renovated school, replete with water tanks, vegetable garden and chook house and renamed Mordialloc Beach Primary. There are iPads and wireless connection in renovated classrooms. The technological capabilities of the 21st century celebrated, but the need for a sustainable environment acknowledged.

As immigrants blended with locals, Mordialloc merged with other councils to become the City of Kingston in 1994. Over the years, areas surrounding Main Street, characterised by Victorian and Edwardian houses on large blocks, some of which still operated as horse stables in the ‘80s, have transformed into units and multi-storey townhouses, including rooftop gardens and balconies. I walk the dog in a comfort zone bounded by Albert, McDonald, White and Chute Streets, and see daily evidence of the 9% increase in residents since 2006. The dramatic changes in population density of Mordialloc impacts on the streetscape. The modification on rooftops testimony to change: TV aerials, satellite dishes, mobile phone towers, and a proliferation of solar panels.

Retirees are the fastest growing population base with a high percentage of Kingston residents over the age of 65. The 60 to 69 age group rank as the fastest growing in Mordialloc. The number

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1


What people think about Kingston My City

0 ratings / 0 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews