Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Suburb Research

In my previous post, I talked about how I was trying to find a Melbourne suburb for my novel-sequel characters. I was planning on Yarraville, but was a little hesitant because I didn't know what Yarraville would have been like in the 1990's.  Now my novel is going to take place in 2015. But my characters would have begun living there in the 1990's.

Then Jason came along and suggested Williamstown. I looked at it on Google Maps and thought it was beautiful. In my notes, I moved my characters there. But then I started doing some research and found it wouldn't work. It's way too high in terms of social class, and it was also pretty high in 1996, the year my characters moved.

While researching, I found a great PDF file. It gives me housing price patterns for various suburbs in Melbourne.

Table 3 has eleven suburbs, and they show the housing type distribution from 1976-2009.

In 1996, Lisa and Dale Merrick moved to a suburb with their one-year-old baby Jessica. I think they would have been looking for a suburb that was mostly middle class. Yarraville was low-middle class, which I think might be too low for what I want. But Williamstown was middle-high and I don't think that would work.

Actually, now I'm rethinking Yarraville again. Figure 7 says that in 1996, only 30% of houses were in the lowest quartile of housing prices.

Yarraville might work for me.

Then I'm thinking Williamstown could be where Lisa grew up.  The chart goes back only to 1976 and Lisa was born in 1966, so I'm kind of in the dark about her early years.  But about 50% of houses in 1976 were in the lowest quartile. Then in about 1981, it changes to about 30%. Gentrification.

I don't think Lisa's parents live in Williamstown anymore. Their son died in 1990. I think they eventually escaped their lives by selling their house, buying a caravan, and traveling around Australia.

Where did Lisa and her family live before Williamstown became gentrified?  Was it an awful place to live in the 1960's and 1970's?  Could they have lived there? Or would they have lived somewhere else?

Lord Wiki says in the 1950's and 1960's, Williamstown was viewed as a rundown industrialized centre.

So...yeah. I think they would have lived somewhere else.


It probably doesn't matter to my book. But it matters to me.

Oh! You know what. Maybe they didn't even live in Melbourne! Maybe they lived somewhere like Ballarat.  Or maybe a small town.  Any suggestions?

And they might not have even lived in Victoria. I'm kind of getting a Queensland vibe from these people.  Maybe they lived somewhere in Queensland in the 1960's and 1970's; then moved to Williamstown in the late 1970's.

Any suggestions for a Queensland town?

Maybe Gympie?

Or I could go with Brisbane.

But no. I picture these people living in a smaller town; then moving to a bigger one.  Yet if they were going to do that, wouldn't they just move to Brisbane rather than all the way to Melbourne?

I guess the job could have taken them to Melbourne.

So...for now I'm going with Gympie to Williamstown to Yarraville.

There are still holes, though.

Where did Lisa meet Dale?  Was he living in Williamstown too? I doubt it.

Maybe they met in Uni.  That would be in the mid 1980's. Maybe they both went to the University of Melbourne.

I just looked at my notes. Dale (Lisa's husband) was born in Queensland. Maybe he was from Gympie too. But they didn't know each other when they both lived there. Then they're in class one day, and the subject of Queensland comes up. They learn they have both spent time in Gympie. This gets them talking and they end up falling in love.  Well, I don't mean they fall in love right there while talking about Gympie. Maybe they'd go on a few dates first.

They go on a few dates; then move in together. Where would they live?  I think an apartment somewhere. Probably near the university.

What would be an affordable neighborhood for uni students and/or recent graduates in the late 1980's and early 1990's?

They might have lived in student housing originally, but then I think they'd move elsewhere later.

I'm looking at a map of apartments near the University of Melbourne. There's a lot. And I figure things were probably more affordable in the 1990's.

I probably don't need to find their exact location in the 1990's. It's probably enough to just know they rented an apartment somewhere near the university.

I don't think Australians say "rent" though. Do they?

I'm googling. I thought they said something like "let", but it seems this is the UK that does that.  I'm finding Australian websites that say "rent".

Well, I think I'm done for today. Or now. Next I'll have to figure out careers for these people.  I think Lisa would probably do something retail. Maybe she works in a bookstore?

What does Dale do?  Maybe he's a teacher?  Not a high school teacher in Yarraville, since they don't have one.

Maybe he's some type of engineer. I really don't want to do research on that.  It's fine. Dale is the quiet type. He won't talk about his work much.  


Jason Ward said...

I went to RMIT university from 1990 - 1992. RMIT is just down the road from melbourne University. Back then the suburbs where a lot of students and graduates lived if they lived in an appartment would have been suburbs like Fitzroy, Collingwood and Prahran.

Fitzroy was beginning gentrification in the late 80's early 90's. it was an area where a lot of intellectuals, bohemians and artists lived a long side the ethnic, working class Greeks and Italians that lived there from the 1950's through to the late 1990's.

I worked in a cafe in Brunswick street Fitzroy while I was at University and got to experience the transformation of the area.

Most Australians us the term rent. I know in the 80's and early 90's they use to use the term "To Let" in advertising and you would always look for places to rent in the "To Let" section of the classifieds. These days you really don't see the term "To let" used anymore.

Andrew said...

Yarraville started its upward trend in the nineties and it was very much a place where a young couple could establish themselves if they did not have a lot of money but weren't keen on the middle suburbs.

There was a lot of shared housing near Melbourne Uni by students, often in large and old houses.

Dina said...

Jason and Andrew,

You guys are both being INCREDIBLY helpful. Thank you!

Jason, is RMIT the school with the cool building? I think I might have taken a photo of it.

When we were in Melbourne, we had planned to go to Brunswick street, but never got around to it, unfortunately.

What type of cafe did you work at? Is it still there?

Anyway, I've made a bookmark folder for my novel and am putting these comments there.

I've decided to give my characters the careers/degrees of marketing and computer science. So maybe they wouldn't be artsy enough for Fitzroy. Then again, our degrees don't completely define us. They still might have liked the artsy environment

Or maybe they'd live in Collingwood or Prahran.

Jason Ward said...

Yes, that would be RMIT. They have a few buildings that are really out there in design.

Prahran back in the 90's was an up and coming area where a lot of aspirational young people lived. Rents were affordable and Chapel Street was within walking distance with great cutting edge fashion shops and incredible cafes.

The cafe I working in was a cafe/take away shop. the menu had sandwiches, hamburgers, fish and chips .. etc. The cafe also ran a home delivery service for a lot of the cafes in the street. People would place their food orders through us and we would pick it up from the cafe of their choice and deliver to their home.

The last time I was there about 5 years ago the cafe was still there but they had new owners and changed it quite a bit.