TEXTURES OF COLLINGWOOD
Collingwood is one of the oldest formal suburbs in Melbourne. Collingwood sits 3 kilometres north east of Melbourne CBD and covers 130 hectares. The suburb is bordered by Smith Street, Alexandra Parade, Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade. It is flanked by the surrounding suburbs of Fitzroy, Clifton Hill, Abbotsford and East Melbourne.
We see Collingwood’s urban form as unpretentious and optimistic. It is made up of parallel lines of streets intersecting at right angles, which makes it feel to us like a grid of possibilities; each block ready for the next chapter (see map).
Small businesses dominate main streets Smith and Johnston, from two dollar shops to news agencies, Turkish grocery stores, health food stores, bakeries, cafés, clothing stores, galleries and commercial supermarkets Woolworths and Coles. In comparison, side streets are home to fabricators, wholesale clothing shops, auto repair shops and hidden creative studios.
2. Smith Street (Streets)
3. Hot Potatoes Super Two Dollar Shop on Smith Street (Streets)
4. A little fabricator workshop on Rokeby Street (Streets)
5. Shops on Smith Street (Streets)
6. Peel Street (Streets)
7. Factories on Keele Street (Streets)
8. Tax accountant shop on Smith Street (Streets)
9. (Places of Congregation)
Broadly speaking, the people of Collingwood congregate in bars and cafés. There is very little traditional ‘civic’ space; and the green space that does exist is clumsily fitted out with uncovered seating and play equipment.
10. Smith Street seats (Places of Congregation)
11. The Tote on Johnston Street (Places of Congregation)
12. Lazerpig restaurant, bar and disco on Peel Street (Places of Congregation)
13. Small park on Langridge Street (Places of Congregation)
14. Small park on Peel Street (Places of Congregation)
15. Small park on Cambridge Street (Places of Congregation)
16. ‘Rainbow Corner’ on Smith Street and Gertrude Street (Places of Congregation)
17. Tiggy café inside Schoolhouse Studios on Rupert Street (Places of Congregation)
Despite the concrete nature of Collingwood there are many trees (several being native) including deep red flowering bottlebrushes, paperbark tea trees and several types of eucalypts. Deciduous European trees such as London plane trees also feature. Plants grow out of the pavement and invade cracks or politely stay in their pots.
19. A eucalyptus tree on Otter Street (Nature)
20. Grass and weeds growing over fake grass on Rokeby Street (Nature)
21. A weed invades bricks (Nature)
22. Potted plants on Rokeby Street (Nature)
Collingwood is Wurundjeri Country owned by the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. Their connection to this land and its waterways (the Merri Creek and the Yarra River in neighbouring Abbotsford) goes back tens of thousands of years to the beginning when the creator spirit Bunjil (the Eaglehawk moiety totem) shaped the land and all living things. Collingwood was an important place for finding food and ceremony.
In the late 1830s, European settlers began to occupy the area and the government began to subdivide and sell the land in Collingwood (just four years after the settlement of Melbourne itself).
This dispossession of land, and the resulting dislocation, clashes and introduced diseases, saw a dramatic decline in the Wurundjeri population.
Collingwood’s bones were shaped by rapid growth during the gold rush years in the 1850s. Times were tough for the people that lived here, and its character was shaped by factories, factory workers and housing slums. Its gentrification is a recent trend.
24. Members of the Wurundjeri Tribe on the Yarra River (History)
25. An 1850s stone building on Wellington Street (History)
26. Collingwood in 1870 (History)
27. Hood Street in 1935 (History)
28. A house in Collingwood in 1936 has a corrugated iron 'bathroom' and external taps are its only water supply (History)
29. Children play in a street that has been marked for demolition and reconstruction in 1946 (History)
30. Shed housing typical to the Collingwood slums in the 1950s (History)
31. The Salvation Army provide food for struggling families in 1969 (History)
32. The commission flats on Wellington Street built post WWII (History)
33. Terrace houses in Gertrude Street photographed in 1983 (History)
Collingwood has been shaped by waves of migration. Many older buildings are still owned by families and private individuals. This is where Greek, Italian and Jewish migrants bought 30, 40 and 50-plus years ago and set up their businesses.
Today it is made up of a mix of residents that have lived here forever, students and share-house dwellers, professionals living in newly refurbished warehouses and apartments, and people living in government flats.
Collingwood’s population is growing rapidly; the rate of population growth has doubled between each Census year and the rate of growth between 2011 and 2016 is more than triple the rate of growth between 2001 and 2006. The current estimated resident population sits at 9,824 people.
Collingwood supports a predominantly young and childless demographic. The median age of 32 remains unchanged from 2006 to 2016. The most common family structure is a couple family without children, and this proportion has increased over time. Collingwood’s median personal income is more than 50% higher than the state average.
The area remains an important meeting place for the traditional owners of this land, the Wurundjeri people. There are many important Aboriginal organisations here that provide community, health, wellbeing and legal services; and sustain political Indigenous activism.
It was here that many people from the Stolen Generations (people forcibly separated from family and community under racist government policies) found family and community.
35. A ‘No Room for Racism’ sticker symbolises Collingwood’s liberal and outspoken population (People)
36. Members of the Collingwood Italian International Cycling Club, 1955 (People)
37. Melbourne play Collingwood in the Australian Football League grand final in 1956 (People)
38. ‘The Greek’ shot by Rennie Ellis in 1977 (People)
39. A Collingwood football club supporter photographed in 1974 (People)
40. People climbing a tree in Collingwood in 1970, shot by Rennie Ellis (People)
41. Mrs. Di Virgilio, a housewife, in her kitchen at 64 Cambridge Street in 1988 (People)
42. A flyer for a ‘Reclaim the shame’ gay party in Collingwood (People)
The suburb is home to Melbourne’s second largest gay village and thus has many gay bars and performance venues.
43. A rally to save music venue The Tote in 2010 (People)
Collingwood has a history of community activism in relation to preserving the suburb’s character against development. Some highlights include:
44. Local personality and Indigenous elder Jack Charles (People)
Charles was forcibly removed from his family as part of the Australian Government’s forced assimilation programme. He first came to Collingwood to look for his family. He is an actor and potter.
Collingwood is a mix of old (by Australian standards) and new buildings. The landscape is distinctive for the fact that small residential dwellings exist next door to commercial factories and retail buildings. Buildings broadly remain below four storeys although are increasingly emerging above the parapets. High-rise housing commission flats were added to this in the 1960s, now followed by new apartment developments.Different styles of architecture sit next to each other resulting in a textured and multi-layered narrative of brick, concrete, glass and metal.
46. A mix of architecture on Stanley Street (Architecture)
47. The Grace Darling Hotel (144 Smith Street), built in 1854 (Architecture)
48. The Foy and Gibson department store warehouse on Oxford Street, which is now residential apartments (Architecture)
49. A mix of architecture on Smith Street (Architecture)
50. Early Victorian architecture on Rokeby Street, shot by Frederick Oswald for the slum board in 1935 (Architecture)
The early architecture is typified by Victorian architecture (1837 to 1901). Early Victorian architecture was characterised by workers cottages – symmetrical layouts and façades, a centrally located front door and a hipped roof of corrugated iron, leading to a veranda on the façade.
51. 1850s cast iron detail on a butcher's shop shot by Algernon Darge around 1913 (Architecture)
During the 1850s cast-iron lacework began to be incorporated into the buildings. The buildings were made from weatherboard, brick or bluestone and were mostly unadorned, formal structures. A little later in this period terraced houses became popular. Later still (in the late Victorian style) decoration began to find its way into the builds, this architecture was often referred to as Boom Style.
52. Hannahford’s Pianos and Organs on Smith Street, built in the early 1900s (Architecture)
From 1901 to WWI Collingwood architecture evolved into Edwardian style (or Federation style) that were still ornate but less ostentatious.
53. Two and three-storey retail buildings on Smith Street (Architecture)
By the early 20th century Smith Street was almost fully developed with ornate two (and at times three) storey buildings built for retail purposes.
Manufacturing and storage warehouses were mainly built on the side streets.
54. The former Collingwood Technical School Complex designed in the Art Deco and Moderne style (Architecture)
Inter-war architecture (1918 to 1939) saw a move towards more modernist buildings (less ornate although at times still influenced by decorative styles such as Spanish Mission and Art Deco).
55. Public-housing towers on Wellington Street, built post-WWII (Architecture)
The end of WWII saw the construction of high rise commission flats.
56. A post office on the corner of Smith Street and Brunswick Street (Architecture)
57. Smith Street architecture (Architecture)
58. The former National Bank of Australasia on Smith Street (Architecture)
59. Corrugated sheds on Rokeby Street (Architecture)
60. Houses on Oxford Street (Architecture)
61. An old house on Keele Street (Architecture)
62. Brutalist-style silo apartments on Langridge Street (Architecture)
Collingwood is part of an economically ascendent council and inner-city catchment. By 2046 close to a third of all Victorian jobs will be located in Inner Melbourne, of which Collingwood forms a part. Yarra has the highest concentration of knowledge sector jobs in Inner Melbourne, with the exception of the City of Melbourne.The majority of Yarra businesses are SMEs. Non-employing businesses, and small businesses employing one to four people make up 82% of all registered businesses in the municipality. The labour-intensive, manufacturing businesses that once defined Collingwood are increasingly moving offshore, and space-intensive activities are locating in outer suburban growth areas. Future manufacturing opportunities will lie in more advanced, specialist manufacturing. Retail is a key industry for Yarra but is currently struggling. Between 2006 and 2011, employment in retail increased significantly by 20%, despite challenging conditions for traders. However, between 2011 and 2014, conditions for retailers have deteriorated further and it is unknown what the current employment levels are within the sector. The retail and restaurant offering in Collingwood is mostly made up of small, independent, low to mid-end options. Higher-end offerings have been a recent addition. Restaurants are culturally diverse – Ethiopian, Greek, Vietnamese – as well as modern Australian and European. Tourism is key to growing the economy and Collingwood’s offering is unique within Australia and Melbourne. Tourism is a major component of the Yarra Council’s ambitions for growth; their Economic Development Strategy identifies the lack of overnight accommodation in the area as a key barrier to increasing visitor yield. The recent emergence of a number of backpacker establishments in Fitzroy reflects this rising demand for accommodation around Collingwood.
64. Two Dollar Shop on Smith Street (Retail)
65. Smith's Cakes and Aquilana Pasticceria on Smith Street, which has operated for 49 years (Retail)
Some long-standing cafés and shops still remain; precious for their legacy and for providing a contrast to the increasingly abundant hipster fried food outlets.
66. A wholesale fashion shop on Langridge Street (Retail)
67. Collingwood Confidential on Rupert Street. A small number of brothels and erotic massage parlours operate from side streets; as well as the Japanese bathhouse (which has no sexy vibes) (Retail)
68. Sonsa Turkish grocer on Smith Street (Retail)
The retail offering is mostly made up of small independent shops.
69. Friends of the Earth food co-op on Smith Street (Retail)
70. Aesop on Gertrude Street (Retail)
There are a few higher end shops on Gertrude St (technically Fitzroy).
71. Copacabana Brazilian restaurant and shows on Smith Street (Retail)
72. Rose Cheong's costume shop on Gertrude Street (Retail)
73. Third Drawer Down on George Street (Retail)
74. Collingwood Memorabilia shop on Smith Street (Retail)
75. Tokyo Bikes shop on Peel Street (Retail)
76. Mid-century vintage shop on Smith Street (Retail)
77. Raffle's Singaporean restaurant on Johnston Street (Retail)
78. Enoteca wine shop and bar on Gertrude Street (Retail)
79. Minanoie Japanese café and shop on Peel Street (Retail)
80. Smith's Kebabs on Smith Street (Retail)
81. Burnside café on Smith Street (Retail)
82. Clothing shops on Gertrude Street (Retail)
83. Alimentari eatery and food store on Smith Street (Retail)
84. Trippy Tacos burritos on Gertrude Street (Retail)
85. Aka Sira Japanese restaurant on Peel Street (Retail)
86. Jim's Tavern Greek restaurant on Johnston Street (Retail)
87. The Horn Ethiopian restaurant on Johnston Street (Retail)
88. Hotel Jesus Mexican on Smith Street (Retail)
89. Ricky and Pinky restaurant on Gertrude Street (Retail)
90. (Cultural and Creative)
Victorian Government mapping has found distinct geographical precincts where businesses and institutions are clustering around the state. Collingwood has been identified as a place with a high concentration (21%) of creative businesses. The largest sub-sectors include Architecture, Design and Visual Arts; Software and Interactive Content; and Advertising and Marketing.
The fashion and clothing industry also has a long tradition within the Collingwood area and is still present.
A series of key art galleries have been open in Collingwood since the 1980s. Since the process of gentrification has kicked in, many smaller creatives have moved out in an effort to secure affordable and long-term space.
91. Bus Projects, an independent art space in the back streets of Collingwood (Cultural and Creative)
There are a number of commercial and independent art spaces in Collingwood includeing Bus Projects, Junior Space, and Seventh Gallery. Collingwood Arts Precinct is a big new project at 35 Johnston Street that will see the development of spaces and studios for not-for-profit artists.
92. Schoolhouse Studios (artist studios) on Rupert Street (Cultural and Creative)
Schoolhouse Studios currently live at 81 Rupert Street. They exist to provide affordable workspaces for emerging artists and creative businesses. They run an exhibition space and run a year long program of events. The space features a modular fit out that references the artist village by forming a series of laneways and courtyards.
93. John Wardle Architects on Rokeby Street (Cultural and Creative)
John Wardle Architects occupies the warehouse of an English paint manufacturer on Rokeby Street.
94. Assemble Papers magazine on Langridge Street (Cultural and Creative)
Assemble Papers make a magazine on the culture of living closer together. They live on Langridge Street with their friends Fieldwork Architects and Local Peoples.
95. The studios of designer Alice Oehr and fashion label Kloke on Oxford Street (Cultural and Creative)
Alice Oehr is a designer who draws things.
96. The Looseleaf plant shop on Sackville Street (Cultural and Creative)
Looseleaf is a little urban nursery. But more than this they run workshops and make books. They describe themselves as a botanical design studio.
97. Vice media studios on Rupert Street (Cultural and Creative)
Whilst Collingwood is mostly a streetscape of cement, bricks and metal; neighbouring suburbs (Abbotsford, Fitzroy, Carlton and East Melbourne) are characterised by their green space.
99. Carlton Gardens (Outskirts)
100. The Yarra River in Abbotsford (Outskirts)
101. Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy (Outskirts)
102. Collingwood Children's Farm in Abbotsford (Outskirts)
103. Abbotsford Convent in Abbotsford (Outskirts)
104. Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne (Outskirts)
While all Australian cities enjoy lots of sun, poor Melbourne is the least sunny of the bunch. The average hours of sunshine in Melbourne range from 3.24 hours for each day in June and 8.05 hours each day in January.It is sunny 47.4% of daylight hours. The remaining 52.6% of daylight hours are likely cloudy or with shade, haze or low-sun intensity.
Melbourne is known for its changeable weather conditions. January is the hottest month in Melbourne with an average temperature of 21°C and the coldest is July at 10°C.
Temperatures can reach 45°C in the warmest months and drop to 5°C in the cooler months. It snowed once in 1849 and again but quite lightly in 1951. Frosts and fogs are common in winter. Temperatures only fall below zero once in about every three years in the city.
Average rainfalls are 68mm. Melbourne’s wettest month is May. January to March are the driest months with an average rainfall of 46mm.
Melbourne is prone to isolated convective showers that form when a cold pool crosses the state, especially if there is considerable daytime heat. These showers are often heavy and can contain hail and squalls and significant drops in temperature (sometimes by more than 10°C in under 10 minutes) but they pass through very quickly at times with a rapid clearing trend to sunny and relatively calm weather and the temperature rising back to what it was before the shower.
October is the windiest month. The average is 12.6 km/h.
April is the least windy month. The average is 8.7 km/h.
Air quality in Collingwood is considered acceptable by the EPA. Carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, particles and sulfur dioxide levels are generally a little higher than surrounding suburbs.
Hoddle Street, the main arterial road that cuts through Collingwood, is traversed by 40,000 cars per day.
Collingwood is serviced by a rail line. Collingwood train station is actually not in Collingwood but located at Gipps Street and Eddy Court in Abbotsford. It is cut off to Collingwood by Hoddle Street. It takes eight minutes on the train from here to reach the city centre.
The 86 Tram runs from a suburb named Bundoora. It cuts up Smith Street and turns up Gertrude Street into the city. No tram offers a greater smorgasbord of humanity. It used to be laughably slow but it’s improved a bit and is generally considered a good amenity.
Lots of people ride bikes in Collingwood. There are some dedicated bike tracks along some main road (such as Wellington Street) but all in all it is a bit of a shit fight with cars and slippery tram lines.
Smith Street, Wellington Street and Hoddle Street all get congested at peak hour but generally there aren’t too many cars in the back streets of Collingwood and they are quite nice for walking. There is limited street parking.
The pedestrian experience of Collingwood varies. Main streets Gertrude and Smith have wide footpaths that are quite nice to walk along, however are busy and commercial in nature. Wider and more peaceful side streets such as Peel Street, Gipps Street, Cambridge Street and Oxford Street are dotted with plane trees are also nice to walk along so long as you’re mindful of zooming cars.
There are narrow back streets such as Rupert Street, Rokeby Street and Cromwell Street. These have skinny footpaths with many obstacles, which makes them less permeable. It’s not uncommon to walk down the middle of these narrow backstreets; it’s nice that people walking these streets ‘own them’ in this way.
Over the past 15 years, the price of housing in Collingwood has more than doubled. Since the late 1980s it has increased six-fold; a trend that is likely to continue. Collingwood’s character will continue to change as new developments go up and up… these growing pains are the greatest threat to the neighbourhood.
Collingwood, for now, is a diverse and fricticious urban crossway but the eclectic mix of people who have been actively engaged in making this place great are being displaced; a common experience for inner-city areas the world over.
A key ambition for Rupert Street is to try to keep the people (typically the creative community) in Collingwood that made it great in the first place. Artists see the world differently and their tolerances, variant interests and participation should be part of our cities, not pushed to the outskirts.