Sunday, 30 August 2015

Rude awakening

For many it really was a rude awakening on Bay Street this morning, as twenty MFB units battled the blaze at the former Port Melbourne Theatre, closing off a slew of neighbouring streets in the process. Fortunately no-one seems to have been seriously hurt.
I'd already drafted a post about Brew'd Awakenings, the punny Manhattan themed replacement of the Simple Affair cafĂ© and alternative therapy centre. It had maintained the same cavernous open-brick interior, although with the counter moved to an island in the centre, bizarrely concealing the best tables behind it.
It would be unseemly now to mention how I rated their coffee and food. The one ominous observation that does linger though is how much chunky timber, much of it with their blackened logo burnt on to it, there was. I just hope that the distinctive structure of this heritage building can be saved.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Fancy fence

It's a shame in a way that the impressively creative design painted upon this Raglan Street fence didn't sneakily use the official palette of exterior paint colours for heritage houses in this borough (which, incidentally, really ought to be displayed in the paint aisle of Bunnings). It landed the owner in strife with VCAT last year, but then there's many a charcoal grey exterior in Port Melbourne that also flouts the rules, albeit in less extravagant fashion.
IMHO heritage controls benefit communities as a whole more than they do individual property owners and there is risk in making exception, even for well-liked cases, in precedent being set and then later abused, more for financial benefit, than artistic merit. However the only way I can see it being fair for Alex Skopellos to paint over his colourful design, which his neighbours seem to like, is if it's part of a wider clamp down on the slow erosion of traditional street frontages.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Colonising the bay

There's change afoot over at that peculiar pocket of cool centred around Fennel Street. The Salford Lads Club has morphed into the Merchants of Port and, perhaps capitalising on the demise of Matilda Bay, now offers craft beer in addition to the usual cafe fayre.
However movement was today also spotted at the former Cadburys factory, following exciting reports that the brewery is to be revived by a bona fide Western Australian craft brewer in the shape of the Margaret River's Colonial Brewing Co.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Hours of happiness

The Railway Club Hotel made it to #7 in this year's Top 50 pubs according to, the ever frugal, Happiest Hour ... despite not really having a happy hour (also, and more understandably, mentioned is the non-club Railway Hotel at #47).
It got me thinking about local happy hours, and the potential for chaining them together for a cheap Friday night out (The Montague, Prince Alfred, Exchange perhaps?). So may I present Spencer's unofficial guide to Port Melbourne's happiest hours...

Friday, 3 July 2015


For a long time Bay Street neighbours Mane Attraction and Murphy's Paw had cornered the market for local pun-based business names. Whilst at the other end of town Rex Hunt's D'Lish Fish has long opted instead for cacography to welcome Tasmanians to our state. However relative newcomer Skewer'd has followed this unnecessary abbreviation precedent, and now Simple Affair has morphed into Brew'd Awakening, which manages to combine both techniques.
The worst language offender by far though would have to have been the frankly appalling "Gorjuss" hair salon. So my inner spelling snob was quietly relieved when they were promptly replaced by Laiba's (whose letters you certainly wouldn't want to misorder). But that relief proved short-lived as, with the invasion of coiffeurs showing no sign whatsoever of abating, just two doors down, this cringe inducing specimen appeared.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Narrowing contest

According to the official Consumer Price Index (CPI), a product that cost a dollar in June 2010 should now cost twelve cents more. According to Spencer's WPI (Whiskas Price Index), 7 Eleven has roughly tracked inflation in this case, whereas IGA and Thomas Dux have defied it.
Whilst consistently the cheapest feline supplier, Coles' price has still shown an above inflation increase over the period of my annual data collection.

Monday, 1 June 2015

En Garde

Port Melbourne is hardly famed for its farmyard animals, so the sight of a portly chicken freely wandering the pavements of Rouse Street must surely raise many a neatly plucked eyebrow.
Although this hen actually seems convinced that it's a guard dog, as it barks a warning to passers by of what is presumably its home. Along with the private fish market next door, this is a delightfully nostalgic corner of town.

Sunday, 24 May 2015


It's a brave person that attempts to bring a grilled fish & posh salad business model to the original home of Hunky Dory. Evidently Belvga with a 'U', who already operate a store in South Yarra, hopes to entice some hunky (and Old Salt) custom their way.
Although their shop frontage, in the base of the 101 complex, is wider than HD's, their outdoor table space is no bigger and, crucially at this time of year, doesn't boast outdoor heating. However for traditional sea-side fish & chips lovers they do benefit from being that much closer to the beach.
For the moment at least, the ambience in the spacious interior is quiet, which should tempt those nearby apartment dwellers that are happy to avoid frenetic queues. And when they do they'll find that the quality and freshness is very similar to the more famous counterpart.

Friday, 1 May 2015


TV shows like The Block offer enticing glimpses of the potential riches to be had from buying properties and then squeezing the maximum renovation return from them. What they don't show however is the effect on both neighbours, and neighbourhood, from months of major construction work. And once focussed on profit, rather than say improving your own home, developers have minimal incentive for showing any respect or compassion for those nearby whose communal facilities, and vista, and parking, and morning sleep, are inevitably impacted in the pursuit of their prize.
Which is why I feel particularly sorry for this house facing Edwards Park which has the severe misfortune of demolition and construction occurring on both sides. In place of a single brick built bungalow to the right, they currently have a masterclass in selfish development, in the shape of a grossly out of proportion giant polystyrene Esky, complete with underground parking and real-estate agent friendly roof-top terrace. It remains to be seen what the other, slimmer, half of this sandwich of misfortune will look like.