COFFEE @ Truman Cafe – ALBERT PARK 3016.
Some days, quirky just hits the spot. Truman Café’s eclectic personality means it doesn’t feel ‘try-hard’. It’s not over-styled and is decorated with references to idyllic childhood and the good old days. You’re bound to identify something from your nostalgic past such as the red plastic toy soldiers marching up the wall, somehow defying gravity or the old anodised tea pot and striped thermos on one of the tables.
Hanging plants are suspended from above in macramé pot holders and an ancient filing cabinet lends the industrial look, blending in with the steel counter standing on little legs on a polished concrete floor.
There is seating out the front but on the day I visited, even though it was a little too sun-drenched for me, others were lapping it up. Located on a through road, set back a tad, Truman Café is popular with the locals. You could hang out there all day and work on your laptop. Grab a coffee and something to eat and make yourself at home.
Located on a sharp corner block with a leafy outlook on one side and surrounded by Federation-style buildings, Truman Café is a fabulous place to sit and watch the passing parade or check out the still-evident reminders from over a century ago.
NOW & THEN around Albert Park, Melbourne
These days, Albert Park is perhaps most famous as the site of the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit. Annually, the Formula One and V8 Supercars race around the circuit which traces Albert Park Lake. Such speed and excitement would have been unimaginable when the suburb was settled in the mid-1800s. In 1854, initial surveys were carried out to create a new subdivision. Then in 1860, a privately built branch railway from the Port Melbourne line to St Kilda intersected the precinct, effectively separating Albert Park from the denser settlement of South Melbourne.
The suburb’s long beach frontage made it popular for bathing from the 1850s. Residential development slowed in the southern end of Albert Park until the late 1880s when it evolved into a seaside resort with a pier, beachfront boulevard and grand hotel. Once the tram line along Kerferd Road opened in 1890, Melburnians from further afield were able to treat themselves to a day at the beach.
Albert Park ultimately became a residential area suited to the more successful, upper class citizens, particularly the homes located in closer proximity to St Vincent Gardens parklands. The gardens were modelled around similar London installations and as such, are considered historically important. The main streets were named after honoured heroes of the British navy and given the 1873 establishment of the Albert Park Lawn Bowls Club and the Tennis Club in 1883, it’s easy to see why the suburb was home to the more elite of Melbourne society.
The birthplace of AFL legends Roy Cazaly (1893-1963) and Ernest McIntyre (1921-2003), Albert Park has also been home to George Gray (1842-1924) who built the South Melbourne Cricket Club grandstand and after whom Gray Lane was named.
Today, Albert Park’s architecture is a blend of Victorian terraces and semi-detached housing and some beautiful examples of Edwardian housing.
A photographic record of my visit to Albert Park
I was particularly excited to take a look around Albert Park, and the adjoining suburb Middle Park, as they have been the most inspiring Contemperiod suburbs I’ve visited to date. I would go so far as to say they could be ‘model’ suburbs for the potential for the hybrid of old and new, expertly-blended architecture. There are innumerable wonderful examples there, as shown in the photos. In general, the streets and dwellings are incredibly intact examples of late Victorian and Federation houses. Some of the streets still reveal cobbled paths and feature generations-old trees that provide abundant shade and appealingly mottle the asphalt.
Where modern architecture has been incorporated into a structure, it has been executed brilliantly. Wrought iron lacework and fencing are juxtaposed with smart modern rendering, full glass walls and edgy window framing. The modern sterile streamlining of low profile, grey cement facades is warmed by the proliferation of red brick walls and proud centenarian chimneys that have stood the test of time.
The images above illustrate just some of the wonderful examples of Contemperiod that can be found in Albert Park and Middle Park. There are so many impressive examples but unfortunately, as is often the case, many are hidden by mature street trees. I strongly recommend that anyone looking at renovating a period home take a trip to Melbourne and walk or drive around the streets of Albert Park and Middle Park; you will not be disappointed! And please, send me pictures of anything fabulous that I’ve missed.
Albert Park and Middle Park fall within the boundaries of the City of Port Phillip. You can find information and guidelines about altering, restoring and developing buildings in Albert Park and Middle Park on the City of Port Phillip website.
City of Port Phillip website
eMelbourne – The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online
Public Record Office Victoria website.