Culture Melbourne

Stuff white Melburnians like

Love a bit of cultural satire.

Via Nathan I found the article Stuff Melbourne white people like. Some funny stuff, and since I’m a bit light-on for writing my own blog content this week, here are some excerpts:

The Monthly:

Buying a subscription to The Monthly for the object of your affections is tantamount to expressing your undying love for them and saying that you intend to spend the rest of your life with this person. In no time at all, you will both have bought and renovated a federation period house in North Fitzroy and will spend your weekends reading The Monthly sipping a juice infused with wheatgrass and spirulina at a cafe with polished concrete walls and minimialist furniture.

(Several people I know read and love The Monthly, and I’ve been known to flick through their copies, and read some great articles in there.)


If invited to dinner by a Melbourne white person, it is a certainty that the recipe will come from Stephanie. If you go to a lot of parties thrown by Melbourne white people, you might form the impression that everyone in Melbourne has a kindly neighbour called Stephanie who hands out recipes over the back fence.

(I don’t own a copy, and don’t really invite people over to dinner because I’m not much of a cook, but I certainly know a few people who do both.)

Dining Out:

When selecting a place to dine in Melbourne you have a choice between Vue de Monde, MoVida, or a small dumpling house located in a hard-to-find laneway in Chinatown. The harder the dumpling house is to find, the better.

(A bunch of my colleagues, as well as my old mate Josh and a bunch of his colleagues used to regularly dine at what we called “the hole in the wall”, which was indeed a place in a hard-to-find laneway in Chinatown. It wasn’t actually a dumpling house, but it was so hard to find that once when I tried to describe how to get there to someone, I simply couldn’t.)

A comment there led me to a whole blog on the topic (written by someone else):

Having Ethnic Friends

Because it’s fiscally impractical to keep travelling, white Melburnians need other ways to convey how worldly and cultured they are. The easiest way to do this is to have ethnic friends. Now, you might think everyone who has friends has ethnic friends by default because everybody has an ethnicity. But you would be wrong. To Melbourne white people, ethnic pretty much means black and/or Muslim. If, for example, you are Serbian, Polish, Vietnamese, Maltese, Israeli, Greek, Russian, Italian, Chinese, Macedonian or Hungarian, you aren’t ethnic because you’re not exotic enough.

(Oh so true. Most of those nationalities aren’t exotic — they’re just the people you encounter every day.)


Northcote does not make sense. Positioned in the heartland of suburbia, a whopping nine stops away from the city (comparable to North Brighton, Ormond and Murrumbeena) it has somehow managed to defy geography and pass itself off as a gritty inner city urban wonderland. The brilliance of this suburb is only magnified when you go there and discover it’s mostly just a few kebab joints and a massive indoor shopping centre with Kmart, two Coles, Donut King and a f—ing Bakers Delight. This is stuff the wrong white Melburnians like! I don’t know how, but Northcote has brainwashed Melbourne white people. Go there to experience genius.

(I took the kids to Northcote recently as part of Jeremy’s systematic exploration of the old video games collections of all the branches of Cash Converters. I couldn’t work out what was so special about it either.)

All in all, very funny stuff, and I look forward to reading more as it gets posted.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “Stuff white Melburnians like”

I heard from a gay guy that Northcote is where all the lesbians are in Melbourne. I only went there once, to a Sri Lankan restaurant with friends, and at a table in the corner, sure enough, there appeared to be a white woman putting the moves on an Asian woman.

I came across it a good while ago, but then I had a blog comment from him or her. Yes, he or she was right on the mark with the comment, but I could not possibly publicly agree with it. Take care.

Judging by recent AFL developments, if such ‘funny stuff’ were written by, say, Dipper, about non-white Melburnians…it would be racist.

@Philip, it certainly plays on stereotypes, but a lot of humour and satire does. Is it offensive? Do you find it offensive? Does anybody?

Worth checking out the North Melbourne Comics Lounge every now and then for insight into cultural and melbourne stereotypes. Tram 57 West Marybninong for those that are interested.

Shivers – I live in Springvale, I read the “Herald Sun” once a week (well bits of it), and I’m unmoved by “The Monthly” or trendoid restuarants.

Maybe I’m not a *real* white Melburnian!

I’ve often heard that white people, particularly white trash, are the only group to which it is acceptable to be racist. When we cease to benefit in every other way imaginable, I will take an issue with this.

Northcote slips into the cool northern suburbs category because most of the traditional suburbs like carlton and fitzroy have become too expensive for most of the artsy folk who want to live there. Instead they’re pushed out to places like northcote and thornbury and create places with a strange contrast between suburban life and a burgeoning arts community.

The dumpling house they mention is always filled with non Asians and the dumplings aren’t really that good. But the queues on Friday night!

I blame that crate place next door or perhaps it was featured on ‘Postcards’, ‘Getaway’ or ‘Coxy’s Big Break’ one afternoon. That’s how Maxims and their egg tarts were introduced to non Asians: Steve Jacobs.

One was formerly a Bi-Lo, I would suspect. That was certainly the case in Coburg. In Westfield Airport West, too. They are now redeveloping it (in Airport West) and moving the Coles to the former Bi-Lo site to make way for more smaller shops.

I live one suburb away from Northcote and I love it. Daniel, you didn’t go to the right side of Northcote. the best part of Northcote is on Ruckers Hill. There you’ll find about 5 beautiful second hand bookshops, a bookshop/cafe where you can sit down and read the book you may be intending to purchase, a lovely, comfy bar called Wesley Anne that opens its doors early and you can sit at the long table or comfy chairs and chew the fat with friends.

Across the road from Wesley Anne there’s the Uniting Church. The Minister there is really liberal, and he hires the church and the hall out to the most diverse groups of people. One night I was passing the church and I heard the most beautiful sounds emanating from there that I had to go in and investigate. It was a French choir that rehearsed there weekly, and they were singing a mediaeval madrigal. They were ordinary people like you or I – most didn’t speak French, but their teacher did, and sourced the music and taught them how to pronounce it and what it meant. I have attended flash mob choir rehearsals at the church hall.

In both the midsummer and midwinter, craft markets are held in the town hall as well as the courtyard next door, and this gives budding artists a chance to sell their work.

There are vibrant organic fruit and vege shops and natural therapy shops with funky, clever names as well as 3 different chinese medicine places. Sadly, the specialist folk and country music shop called Rhythm and Views closed its doors a few years ago.

Then there’s the restaurants…I would have to say that Pizza Meine Liebe is one of the best pizza joints I’ve ever been to. Their Half and Full Nelsons are these amazing meatball pizzas with caramelised onion and peas with buffalo mozzeralla cheese. If they’re booked out, the friendly bar next door will let you sit in there and buy a drink and order from PML. If you can’t get into PML, there are foods of all nationalities nearby, but my favourite is the quirky bar called Open Studio that is run by some young French women.

All they serve in the way of food are crepes, but they’re the best in Melbourne and so hearty, and only $8. They’re buckwheat, so they’re better for you. In the summer, they serve sangria and in the winter, mulled wine.

They have live music on every week and are an ideal platform to host new musicians, who bring along their friends for support. They have encouraged people to donate books and they have several hundred now and you can borrow from there – as you’d expect, it’s an eclectic collection, from eastern philosophy to trash. I’ve run into my artist friends there, as well as Mickelangelo from the Black Sea Gentlemen.

Further down the hill is the Westgarth shopping centre. Once again there is a fantastic cafe, Alphabet City, which has been there for about 30 years serving up wonderful food, and displaying artworks of the local artists. There’s the Westgarth cinema that was the Valhalla for a while, now a member of the Palace chain, and some interesting clothes shops and great bars, such as Kelvin. There’s an eclectic junk shop run by a very eccentric woman – my husband collects old melways and he found one in there dating back from 1971, while I found some beautiful rings with semiprecious stones for about $10 each.

So that’s Northcote. Exciting, interesting, vibrant, warm – if you know where to go.

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