Melbourne Rules

By | 2014/05/04

On June 1, we’ll have lived in Melbourne exactly three years. At times, it’s been a bit of a rocky journey, personally, but the actual city itself is more than home – it’s a best friend.

Melbourne, Now

Looking forward to that date, I can remember how inexperienced we were at knowing the vagaries of navigating Melbourne. Now though, those rules are far easier to understand, and I’ve listed some of them below. (This extends and in places overlaps my previous list.)

  1. You’re officially a resident when you boast to a visitor that “hook turns are easy”, even if you’ve never yet done one yourself.
  2. With the possible exception of a freeway or tollway, at any point while walking along the footpath, you can be accosted by random drivers who encouragingly wave you to cross the road. If they are feeling particularly needy of conducting this service, they may even toot their horn or flash their lights in encouragement. They will hold up their lane of traffic longer than a Canadian will hold a door open for a stranger.
  3. The only way to walk through Chinatown or Lygon Street after 4pm without being accosted is to don a shirt that reads (front and back), No thanks, I’ve already eaten. This should be translated into as many languages as possible for maximum effect.
  4. Actually, to really guarantee you won’t be accosted in Chinatown or Lygon Street after 4pm, not only should you wear the aforementioned shirt, but you should carry a placard that reads, I don’t need dessert as well, just for good measure.
  5. If you’re in a bad mood or have just lost a loved one, you will willingly walk an extra three street blocks to get around the guy in the CBD who sells the Big Issue in a booming voice like an auctioneer, making poetic points of the people around him for his sale.
  6. If you walk more than a block anywhere in Melbourne without encountering any form of street art (official or otherwise), you’ve got lost and you’re actually in Sydney.
  7. There is actually a Preston Street in Preston. For someone named Preston, this is pretty cool stuff.
  8. You’re a seasoned Melbourne resident when you can forget that the Comedy Festival is on, even with multiple reminders of people going to shows.
  9. Each suburb has a carefully allocated number of Hipsters, as determined by the Combined Hipster Association of Victoria (CHAV). To avoid being mistaken for a Hipster and plucked off the streets by CHAV representatives for reallocation to the correct suburb, it’s important to not simultaneously drawl your ‘a’s, wear plain-lens glasses and knit while riding a fixed-gear bicycle. The CHAVs are very particular about the Hipster quotient.
  10. No-one really knows how to pronounce Maribyrnong, but we all know the red squiggle underneath it in a word processor is wrong.
  11. Likewise for Prahran.
  12. It is technically illegal to start any business meeting in Melbourne, however important, without first suggesting that it could be conducted over coffee.
  13. Multigenerational family wars that make the conflict between the Capulets and the Montagues in Romeo and Juliet look like a mild tiff can be started by suggesting to anyone, even a tea drinker, that you know the best place in Melbourne for a coffee.
  14. The suburb of Sunshine still isn’t.
  15. If, more than a year after its release, you can’t yet sing at least one verse from Dumb Ways to Die, you’re probably catatonic or should get your pulse checked.
  16. You know that Dante’s Seventh Circle of Hell is actually Chadstone Shopping Centre on christmas eve.
  17. The easiest way to get a loitering Hipster to move on is to offer him or her a cup of instant coffee.
  18. Tram tracks are specially engineered so that wet, they become the slipperiest substance in the known universe.
  19. After the disastrous War of the Designer Prams in 2013, where pitched battles were fought in the streets of Seddon by yummy mummies carrying babyccinos against several moribund Hipsters (whose weapon of choice was a mix of true and Alanis Morissette themed irony), Yarraville was ceded by the Council of Maribyrnong for exclusive Yuppie ownership. This transition will complete by 2016. Despite a main street barely wide enough for two motorbikes to pass one another, it is a legal requirement that only 4WDs with bumper stickers such as Save the Reef or No Duck Hunting will be permitted in the suburb after 2015. As a concession to the council, at least 20% of said 4WDs will by Hybrid Lexus models.
  20. The average household in Melbourne owns at least three coffee machines.
  21. Based on laws passed in 1993 by the Melbourne City Council, tea is actually an illegal substance in Hardware Lane and Degraves Street.
  22. Melbournians are paradoxically proud that the only people stupid enough to swim in the Yarra River are visitors. Their tombstones always say: “Last words: Can’t be that bad”.
  23. Major street brawls can be started by gathering two or more Melbournians together and suggesting they discuss the relative merits of Federation Square.
  24. Any Melbourne driver will tell you that Punt Road is misnamed by just one letter.
  25. You can determine if someone has lived in Melbourne their entire life by asking them to say “Record Album”. (Of course, only a dyed-in-the-wool Melbournian says Elbum.)
  26. No-one in Melbourne defers an activity by saying I’ll save it for a rainy day, which after all at any point could mean I’ll do it in ten minutes.
  27. The best place in Melbourne to hear that cold antarctic wind howl is Mordialloc Train Station in the dead of winter when you forgot your coat.
  28. While people in Sydney will carry an umbrella just in case if they happen to see a stray cloud in an otherwise blue sky, the average Melbournian will step out into a storm of cyclonic intensity with no more protection than a plastic bag for their iPhone.
  29. In fact, it is a well known scientific fact that umbrellas do not work within the geographic bounds of Melbourne.
  30. On a weekend, nothing in Northcote opens before 10am.
  31. You can tell whether a café is hipster or not based on whether they take cash and bitcoin only, refusing EFTPOS.
  32. Smashed Avocado is required by law to appear at least twice on all Melbourne menus. Even at meat-only venues.
  33. We’re told that a tram is like a very heavy rhinoceros  on a very large skateboard. There is nothing reassuring about this imagery. (Meanwhile, zoologists remain incensed, insisting that rhinos prefer roller blades.)
  34. Dante’s Sixth Circle of Hell is the challenge of negotiating Melbourne Central’s alternating escalator systems at peak hour.
  35. Visitors to Melbourne may be readily identified in the Bourke Street Mall by observing who queues at the pedestrian lights to wait for trams to pass before going from one side of the mall to the other.
  36. As a unique form of torture, four-way zebra crossings can be found at the entrance to most roundabouts in South Melbourne. This can result in cars being trapped on the roundabout while shoppers from the South Melbourne Markets bump into old friends and have a good old natter as they’re crossing the road. The most famous of these drivers was Mr Dean Cryswyz of Thornbury, who executed 3,974 revolutions of the roundabout before running out of fuel in 2009. Mrs Maple Droewrs of South Melbourne is still telling friends about it as they pass her while she stands in the middle of the zebra crossing. She’s confident that within the next 12 months she should remember whether she was going to or coming from the markets and thus continue her journey.
  37. In Abbotsford and Collingwood, Johnston Street has a unique feature of a middle lane with electronic signs posted periodically along it indicating whether the lane is turn only or can only be used by cars going in one particular direction. This is never honoured.
  38. You can tell someone is a first-time visitor from NSW if they describe going to a store in Lieutenant Bourke Street rather than Little Bourke Street.
  39. Trams do not yield, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in.
  40. The primary purpose of Melbourne’s out there architecture is not to compete with the Sydney Opera House or Sydney Harbour Bridge, as residents of that city insist, but to offer a striking counterpoint to the grey winter sky. This, it achieves with aplomb.
  41. Native Melbournians think they have the world’s most expensive and unreliable public transport system. Transfers from Sydney fall into paroxysms of laughter every time they hear this.
  42. The fashion of wearing jeans pulled half-way down to the knees originated in Melbourne. Unlike so many other fashions that originate as fashion from Melbourne, this was born of necessity by drivers who needed to ensure they had sufficient change to feed a parking meter on Bourke Street or Smith Street for long enough to order a coffee.
  43. It is entirely normal to take a timestamped photo of the nearest parking sign in order to argue valid alternate interpretation based on grammar, tense or implied use of past participles in response to a parking fine.
  44. Movie theatres in Melbourne have failed to grasp the correlation between start time and time the movie starts.
  45. Movie theatres in Melbourne have failed to grasp the correlation between time the movie starts and time the lights go down.
  46. It is impossible in Melbourne to protest anything without unwashed members of the Socialist Alliance turning up and insisting they are the original supporters of a cause. This has been known to even happen when a group is protesting the Socialist Alliance.
  47. On the 28th of February each year, the secret society of chefs gather to determine what herb or other plant material will be the garnish de jour for the following year. (The current favourite for 2015 appears to be celery leaves.)
  48. It is no small irony that Big Boy BBQ in Hardware Lane uses the smallest stools in Melbourne for seating.
  49. Highpoint is not the highest point of Melbourne. That is reserved for the feeling experienced when getting a seat on a crowded Elizabeth Street tram at peak hour after walking around the CBD for four hours.
  50. Despite there being more restaurants and cafés in Melbourne than all other forms of shopping combined, it is entirely normal to hear someone quip, there’s no-where to eat.

7 thoughts on “Melbourne Rules

  1. Natasha

    Its spelt ‘Melburnian’. Honestly, it is.

    1. preston Post author

      I’ll have to add that to my fourth year lessons 😉

  2. Anthony

    great list!
    Couple more from my Sydeny-Melbourne-Sydeny yo-yo residence history.

    In Melbourne bars if you let slip that you’d like a schooner, chances are they’ll spit in your pint before they serve it…. In Sydney if you ask for a pint, they’ll think you’re from the UK.

    In Melbourne fish & chip shop, ask for a scollop and you get a scollop… in Sydney fish & chip shop you ask for a scollop and you get a potato cake

    Every one from Melbourne owns at least 1 excellent winter jacket…. On colder days in Sydney (less than 10 degrees) and it’s puffy snow jackets and ridiculous cardies

    cheers

    1. preston Post author

      Ironically my favourite pub in Melbourne serves schooners rather than pints. So it gets confusing switching between it and other pubs.

      I was prepared for the potato cake vs scallop scenario before moving … about a month before the move we had a mate from Melbourne stay with us for a few days, and one night had fish & chips…

      1. Anthony

        Schooners in Melbourne? NSW themed pub? War memorial in the foyer, RSL style, choc full of pokies and a massive beer garden, with the Friday night footy followed by fighting?

        1. preston Post author

          I wouldn’t call it NSW themed, but it definitely has a theme 🙂 It’s The Laird in Collingwood.

          1. Anthony

            Ok, LOL…. I think the theme I had in mind was a little off the mark… yes, I know the pub, or institution should I say 🙂

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