Where else but Footscray!

Urban Melbourne has contributed many an article toward the seismic shift occuring within Footscray, there's a raft of large-scale apartment developments in the pipeline set to transform the area over the next decade. No less than 21 current apartment project listings for postcode 3011 are in the Urban Melbourne project database, with the sum of 4,900 plus apartments a distinct possibility.

Even the likes of local stalwart Franco Cozzo has sought to vacate his premises as the lure of development takes effect.

But what will keep these thousands of new residents occupied in Footscray proper, rather than seeking the entertainment and retail options of for instance, the CBD?

Barkly Street

On a recent walking tour of Barkly Street and surrounds it became apparent there's a tremendous sense of place in Footscray. The diverse mix of cultures, fashion and cuisine provides an outcome unique to Footscray, but it's also coupled with a street level history and scale that is comparable in many ways to Collingwood or Richmond.

Whether it's the 'rough' (in some areas) urban realm or the general bustle, Footscray is an intriguing locale with all the fundamentals in place to cope with a massively expanded population in years to come. Should contemporary venues such as Barkly Street's Littlefoot Bar proliferate and provide the area with a new dimension of dining and entertainment venues to compliment the super-strong ethnic cuisine offerings from South East Asia and the Horn of Africa, Footscray will become a destination all its own. A new Smith Street in the offing.

I can only hope the above notion is conveyed through the following images. Click on the main image below to expand and as always enjoy.

Barkly Street from above


Rohan Storey's picture

I went for walk around there recently too - and I was certainly struck by the diversity of the population that is there werent very many skips ! But everyone was friendly and going about their business of course like ordinary people do, but I was struck by the decrepit nature of many of the buildings, especially mid- late 20th C ones, run down even rusty ! and few of the nice older ones restored, but then every city needs an are a bit down at heel, where rents are cheap and non-mainstream businesses can establish. In fact come to think of it there weren't any chain stores, not even a mcdonalds. In fact come to think of it most shops were vietnamese or african, quite distinct from the rest of inner melbourne. And the big apt developments were pretty awful, except for the colourful one, but again, I suppose they're cheap, and only 15 mins from the CBD !


Back to top
tonewas's picture

I live in Footscray and must admit that its initial charm that allured me is wearing thin.
It has the potential to thrive and become the hip precinct that many say that it threatens to be, but the council doesn't seem to have the drive (balls) to take care of the small things that will help make the place more liveable once the pending '21 current apartment project listings' are realised.
The chasm between the development of medium-density housing, and the development of the basic things that make a town liveable is a worry.
Whilst I would hate to feel that a precinct’s commercial and cultural success should be measured on whether it has a McDonalds or not, I begrudgingly admit that there is a serious lack of commercial diversity. Shopping spaces are predominantly Vietnamese or African, many offering the exact same service or food as the one next door, and cheap and nasty $2 shop-style bazaars are rife.
Coles supermarket in the newly developed shopping centre seems to offer the only shopping alternative, however venturing to this particular section of Footscray will inevitably involve an unpleasant encounter.
This brings me to the ‘real’ problem that faces Footscray’s shopping precinct in this day and age.
Australians. To be more precise... Aussie bogans.
Like throw-backs to the 80’s... the days of Cold Chisel, Hey Hey it’s Saturday and Paul Hogan humour... these dole-propped meth heads are the zombies that time has forgotten. From a judgemental point of view, the only drive these folk seem to show is the drive to make everybody else feel unwelcome.
They’re bitter, loud and abrasive. Whatever trivial conversation they are taking part in is performed for all in the vicinity, with the ‘F’ word eloquently slotted in between every other word. At twice the volume of every other word. Sometimes these conversations occur between multiple parties at distances of over 50 metres.
While observing the activities of these folk during the day can be comical at times, it’s at night that the domain is entirely theirs.
Commerce is slow in Footscray and after dark, non-existent. It is a long way from being the environment conducive for alfresco dining, thriving shopping or festivities of the likes that other areas of Melbourne can boast. The imminent injection of budding businesses, presumably from middle class prospectors aiming to prove the previous observation wrong, will create a hostile frontier. Already graffiti tags common in Footscray bleat the sentiment ‘no yuppies’. A primitive slogan from a primitive minority, perhaps, but in an environment where police presence is minimal, the desperate attempt from the bogan folk, keen to keep their Footscray sanctuary in the dark ages for their sinister and apathetic purposes, may prove more of a nuisance than many may envisage. Little known to most is that the majority of CCTV cameras in Footscray’s streets are not operational. Making reports of theft and abuse to the Footscray Police is a futile exercise. Whether this is a funding issue or a point of incompetence, it doesn’t help create a platform of any stability for business or social lifestyle to thrive. Couple this lack of safety with the decrepit presentation of streets and public places, it’s little wonder that Footscray is still viewed in a comical and distasteful manner. Take a walk from the Footscray Station to Coles via Paisley Street and you will encounter many times the following: Smells of urine, smells of rotten fruit, narrow streets, pedestrian bottle-necks, aggressive loiterers and decrepit shop-fronts. Even the recently upgraded footpaths don’t have appropriate drainage. The slightest rainfall means pools of water sit idle for days, adding yet another layer to interesting concoction of smells.
I’m curious to know what the council sees as the priorities in helping to make Footscray more ‘liveable’.

Back to top
Andrew Mck's picture

MMMmm yes good question @TONEWAS.
What is the council's priorities in making Footscray more liveable for ALL its residents and its workings in allowing Footscray to realize its full potential ?
Well in the 20 years that ive lived in Whitehall St Footscray id say not much , considering the high cost of rates here in comparison with other Councils.
You would be forgiven for thinking that our council priorities are more about Townhall being a stage for councilors personal ideological leanings, and not for the running of postcode 3011.
Ive never seen such a blatant waste of millions of dollars being spent on such things as rocks as in those in the Nicholson and Paisley st intersection that serve as a obstruction for the foot traffic, even their "special features" dont work such as the fine water mist thats supposed to spray out on hot days or the mood lighting, never seen them in operation. They are a meant as a interpretation and a representation of a indigenous meeting ground, but ive only ever encountered a meeting ground of drug dealing and drunks with their interpretation of a rubbish tip and a crazzy persons Speakers Corner where one has the delightful experience of hearing all manner of crazzy rants and obscenities be it ever so multicultural and all.

Back to top

Note: Every effort is made to ensure accurate information is provided. If information is out of date, or factually incorrect, please get it touch so we can rectify. Urban accepts no liability and responsibility for any direct or indirect loss or damage which may be suffered by any recipient through relying on anything contained or omitted from our publication and platform. Opinions expressed by writers are that of the writer, and may not reflect that of Urban.