Somebody once said, ‘Wherever you are is the middle of the ever expanding universe.’
I think the person who said that was standing smack bang in the middle of Queens Parade, Clifton Hill.
There are trains, trams and buses going in all directions.
STYLISH, SLEEK, INNER CITY LIVING
Superbly located. Positioned for absolute convenience. Ideal for families, city professionals, couples or lifestyle seekers, this bright, beautifully maintained studio apartment is as sleek as it is stylish …
Okay, it’s a nice place to live, but why am I writing this?
Recently, I was contacted by a big, hairy monster, sorry, an estate agent (that’s a bit harsh, they’re nice people estate agents) asking me to write up some houses for her – capture the ambiance, the vibe – you know how it goes. The truth is though, each Melbourne home has its own character and pitfalls. And as I write this, I’m thinking what matters more, to me anyway, is what’s around the house – the people, the shops, the parks and a little of the history.
Today, I was a mere 4 km from the Melbourne CBD, in a suburb called Clifton Hill. This one time blue collar suburb is sandwiched between Collingwood and Fitzroy, though appears a little roomier than its neighbours. With ample park-lands, sports facilities, skate parks and adventure playgrounds, along with great shops and cafés, it’s got it all. However, Clifton Hill is not a blue collar area anymore!
And that’s why coming back seemed strange. You see, I grew up here, it wasn’t the same place it is now. Back then, Clifton Hill was a real mix of industrial area and working class homes. Now, much of the industrial landscape has gone giving rise to residential development. Inner city living is trendy now. Homes with 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and very little car parking are going for $1.3 to $1.5 Million. Horses for courses, I suppose. With the median price around $1.3 million.
I’ve always loved Clifton Hill and I always will. I went to school here, I played footy and tennis and cricket here, stole my first kiss with a girl named Michelle here – a peck on the cheek behind the shelter sheds in grade one. I’ve worked here, and had my first beers here. I only kick myself now when I see the prices of the homes we used to live in. Ah well.
Like many of the kids that grew up here, I moved out and kept going further out to the suburbs. And, I don’t know that I could ever come back to inner city living. But I have fond memories. I even met my wife at the Clifton Hill Hotel. So, of course while I was back today, I had to go in for a beer. Just the one.
It’s one of those trendy micro-breweries now with 16 different beers on tap. There were no pool tables, no bands in the corner, no beer stains on the carpet, I know, and they call it a pub? It all looked brand new. I scratched my head and finally settled on a freshly brewed pint of Clifton Hill Irish Red Ale.
Yuppie beer!’ said a voice at the bar next to me.
A man in his late 50s introduced himself as Peter. Like me, Peter had stopped in for a drink for old times, on his way through to Preston. He used to drink here all the time he said, and lived just over the railway line. ‘I moved out though,’ he said, ‘Clifton Hill has gone to the yuppies. It’s lost its character. The pubs are either gone or changed. The whole place has changed. All my neighbours left too. Bloody Yuppies moved in. They’ve taken over the bloody place.’
His voice was passionate, and I could see his point. But I disagreed, ‘Yes it’s changed,’ I said, ‘but that’s life. Everything changes and Clifton Hill today seems to have kicked on in leaps and bounds. It’s a vibrant suburb with so much to offer young families and singles alike. It has two well regarded primary schools in Gold St and Spensley St, an aquatic centre, good sports and recreational facilities and the properties, like the apartment I viewed a moment ago are stylish and sleek to say the least.’
‘Fuckin’ yuppie!’ he said.
You can’t please everyone. I finished my beer, enjoyed it too, and decided on some lunch at one of the many cafés.
As I crossed the street, I peered across at where my old school once stood and remembered my year-8 teacher at St Thomas’s, Mr Coyne, telling us that Clifton Hill was named from the hill on Queens Parade. I later discovered that wasn’t true. It got its name from Clifton Farm, one of the first properties in the area. The Hill part was added later by a land developer to jazz up his new estate. It wasn’t a lie though, there are several hills with excellent views of Melbourne’s city skyline.
Essentially, Clifton Hill is split into two sections divided by the railway station into what I call Upper and Lower Clifton Hill.
Upper has more space and quiet homes with walking tracks by the Merri Creek and links to Yarra Bend Parklands. Serene and outgoing.
Lower Clifton Hill is more go, go, go, with Queens Parade and on to Smith Street with shopping and cafés at your doorstep. Cosmopolitan and chic.
I sat outside a cafe, ate a focaccia, washed it down with a pot of English Breakfast tea and thought, yep, maybe I am a yuppie. But as I stared down Queens Parade watching people picking up groceries from local delis, sitting outside eating and chatting or darting into offices, just like they always did, I thought, Clifton Hill hasn’t lost its character. Okay, it has lost some pubs yes, the Normandy, a once thriving Irish pub, is now the Rubber Duck Café and of course, at the top of Queens Parade, the United Kingdom Hotel, where I had my first beer, is now a McDonalds. There’s a sign of the times for ya.
But in short, if inner city living is your thing, Clifton Hill is still full of character, and a place you must check out. Just stay away from a bloke called Peter. You *%$^ yuppies!
Clifton Hill – 3068
Location: Situated 4km North-east of Melbourne’s CBD, in the city of Yarra.
Transport: Major roads include Queens Parade, Heidelberg Road and Hoddle Street.
Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway begins at Alexander Parade Clifton Hill, providing access to the Eastern and outer Eastern suburbs and on to beachside suburbs of Mornington Peninsula.
The number 86 tram will take you to Bundoora in the north or to Docklands through Bourke Street and Melbourne’s CBD to the south.
Buses run along Queens Parade and Hoddle Street to various neighbouring suburbs.
The train is the junction between the Hurstbridge line and the Mernda line. A trip to Flinders Street via the MGC (Jolimont Station) will take you around 10 -15 minutes.
Personality: Trendy feel, artsy with plenty of sports and family activities on offer.
According to Census 2016, population is 6341 .
Schools: Three primary schools – 2 State and 1 Catholic.
Leisure: Restaurants, cafés, bakeries, parks, grocery stores, football/cricket ovals, tennis courts, aquatic centre, microbrewery. Merry Creek trail is popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists, along with Yarra Band parklands offering sporting amenities and clubs.