It’s rare that I can’t think of a suitable title for a blog post, but Sunday in the City (of Melbourne) left me speechless and with more than a tear in my eye.

I’d been looking forward to my first visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in about 18 months to do some bird photography.

After getting off the bus in the city centre, I walked down the main north/south street to the tram stop to find notice that there were tram disruptions and delays, so after waiting about 20 minutes, I decided to called the whole photography nature walk off and do a quick walk around the block in search of some street photography.

I had been through the new up-market shopping arcade linking Collins street to Little Collins street before and been quite amazed by the mirrored columns, ceilings and undersides of the escalators.  The whole experience is like walking through some distorted hall of mirrors at a fun fair – quite surreal and definitely a unique experience.  Many of the high-end ground floor shops are still untenanted.

The main escalator at the Collins Street entrance to the new shopping arcade
The main escalator at the Collins Street entrance to the new shopping arcade

You need real money to shop here.

The central atrium is filled with a modern ‘chandelier’ of hanging green/aqua light tubes.  Both a work of art as well as lighting.

The previous arcade was very beautiful in itself and for the life of me, I can’t think why the current mind-blowing multi-million dollar display of vulgarity, which took 2 years to create, was ever passed by Melbourne City Council (or the town planning department).

I find it offensive.  It’s a slap in the face of the homeless.  It represents the extreme waste of money that really turns my stomach.

It’s one of modern western societies contradictions……….

(note: the slide show below was mostly made by looking straight up above me, except for one photo which shows a shopper riding an escalator).

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When you leave this arcade and walk up to the main north/south thoroughfare linking the northern suburbs to the southern outbound highway (which runs along the west side of the Royal Botanic Gardens), you are confronted by the Bedrooms of the Homeless.  Obviously during the winter, when night temperatures can drop to the low single digits, its warmer for the homeless to shift from their summer shelters along the river to the warmer inner streets of Melbourne.

After seeing the 5th makeshift shelter, where the occupant(s) was/were still fast asleep, I saw the 6th Bedroom looming up on the footpath and decided to make a photo.

I didn’t want to invade the occupant’s privacy so made the image from some distance away.  An open umbrella was creating a wind break.  Possessions and used food containers created a fence surrounding the homeless person and at this stage I was moved to tears.

This was the Home……… of a Homeless person.

I really don’t understand the wave of new multi-million dollar high-rise apartment blocks.  Many are for the wave of Asian students who now attend our highly regarded universities at the northern end of the city) and are justified.  But there are others which are not.

With some 8,000 homeless in the inner suburbs (32,000 in the whole state) and over 88,000 empty houses, the figures just don’t add up.


Some of the homeless have mental disorders like Schizophrenia.  I see many on my bus running along my route to the city centre.  Some have addictions – drugs, alcohol, over-the-counter medications – you name it.

There are those who prefer to live in the open without the normal links to jobs, debt and modern trappings and they are homeless by choice.

Then there are the teenage runaways with the pallor of despair etched upon their gaunt young faces.  I wonder what drove them from home?  Abuse, violence or drugs?  Or just plain dysfunctional family relationships which made their home life unbearable?  Perhaps even bullying from peers?

Most are just plain……… homeless………with no jobs to pay for  affordable rental accommodation and utilities (let alone food and clothing).

……and then there are the travellers busking to make some money to advance their travel adventures.  This Buddhist traveller was playing a variety of Nepalese singing bowls and from time to time, meditated or gave blessings to the passing shoppers. (the image below was made back in February 2013).

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How does society justify multi-million dollar expenditure when a few hundred dollars would make all the difference to those living in poverty and homelessness.

19 thoughts on “UNTITLED

  1. A most thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Vicki. We certainly need to be more aware of our less-fortunate brothers and sisters. How effective are letters to the editors and to your politicians down there?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I despair at the way the powerful seem Hell-bent on making a show of the wealth that abounds and showing it so obviously in the face of the weak and the poor. Excellent post, Vicki.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Zilch (as far as I know), Gary.

    The Middle Class (of which I was one – note past tense), are fast disappearing and the gap between the wealthy and the poor being stretched to extreme.

    Affordable rental housing has almost disappeared for single people in inner Melbourne (unless they share or can walk up many stairs in an old building). It’s not surprising that many young adults are choosing to live with their parents way past their 20s & 30s.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks John.
    Being a Melburnian in the past, I daresay you have seen the same homeless in Swanston street or even Burke street in front of DJs.


  5. I’m noticing it more and more on each city visit, Peggy. It must be freezing sleeping on the streets. Some of these homeless don’t even seem to have a warm jacket. Others seem to have have a wad of thick sponge and a pillow with blankets and a water proof cover.

    It just doesn’t make sense with all these empty houses and apartments. The cost of rental properties in Melbourne is horrific. I notice WA and Tasmania are much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is the face of capitalism and consumerism. Those with money need to be attracted to spend even more money. It’s a death spiral. The masses are getting poorer and poorer, while a few get richer and richer. Many fall off the wagon and are left behind. What can I do as an individual? For myself I can choose not to participate in the futile rat race for money. Live simple.
    For others I can support societies, including volunteering, that help the less fortunate. I can directly support a person in need, which can be rewarding and disheartening as many individuals seem beyond help (addictions and mental health). In the end what matters are our deeds, not our words.
    Thank you for reminding us.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for the comment and I agree.

    The disabled and mental health problem folk (who are homeless) are the saddest sight. I see the same faces on the city streets many times over when I go into the city centre. Others I’ve seen for years seem to have disappeared and I wonder where they are.

    If I didn’t have such high-dependency on medical care for my health conditions, I’d certainly like to have lived with a deeper connection to nature and a more simple life. I certainly envy you your lifestyle.


  8. You ask as very justified question. Unfortunately our world is more and more turning into a selfish, ruthless place, where the contrasts between rich and poor expand. It’s sad to notice, and sad that our societies don’t feel an obligation to help those who cannot help themselves. Your photos show us this unfair contrast very poignantly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I guess I notice it more after changing from a salaried office worker to having to take early retirement and live on a frugal pension. Affordable rental housing is almost impossible to find. I really feel for these homeless and while the Salvation Army and other charities do their best, it’s just not fair that ridiculous sums of money pour into these new high-end shopping arcades and updating tourist attractions (that don’t need updating).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you so much for sharing these images and thoughts, Vicki. Like you I am appalled at this shocking contrast between the rich and the poor in our country. Many years ago government changed the care of the mentally ill from institutions to “community care.” While the institutional care was in many cases below standard, the problem was that funds weren’t provided to help people move into the community. Mental health care resources and cheap housing are in poor supply. There is less money for drug and alcohol rehabilitation as well, with many people having to wait many weeks to receive a place. As you know, funds for women’s refuges have been cut over the years as well. Many are turned away when they are escaping from domestic violence. This all contributes to homelessness. Thanks very much for sharing these images that show dramatically the sad situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve never been so aware of the homeless in Melbourne as i have behind the camera lens. The middle class is disappearing rapidly and it’s either poor or wealthy.
    As i said in my post, with so many homeless and so many empty homes, why can’t they be paired up somehow. It doesn’t make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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