Posted by Christine Tsimbis
12. Dec, 2014
The inevitable battle between Melbourne’s Northern and Southern counterparts rages, as I contemplate how intriguing it is that there are such contrasting differences between both areas, despite the fact that they both reside in Melbourne. Melbourne’s diversity is truly captivating; it encompasses all sorts of cultures, which as a result project different social patterns that become acquainted with its various demographic counterparts. I decided to investigate these differences and challenge some of the stereotypes that have fueled the distinctions between the two areas (and hopefully make some sense of this never-ending war!).
Melbourne’s North is commonly viewed to radiate a rough yet hip sort of vibe, and it is judged negatively due to its high crime rate statistics in comparison to the South, which does induce higher insurance rates and cheaper housing prices in its suburbs further away from the city (such as Broadmeadows). However, we can’t forget that the North is the icon for Melbourne’s grunge central. For instance, Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street radiates edginess with its variety of funky shops that have indie/punk inspired clothing (which the majority of people there adopt that individualistic look), along with eccentric art exhibitions and the alternative nightlife scene. Sydney Road is another representative symbol of the Northern suburbs; it essentially symbolises Melbourne’s strong grasp on multiculturalism, particularly that of a Middle-Eastern feel with its array of restaurants, cafes and shisha lounges. However, the North also has more conservative and family-orientated suburbs such as Essendon, and there are also upper-class suburbs such as Ivanhoe with its mix of exquisite and historical mansions and homes.
When you veer into the South, you will notice that the vibe changes significantly; suburbs such as Toorak and St Kilda spell classy with their luxurious mansions and apartments, and if you’re craving to go for a swim at the beach, the South offers you that and more. While you are generally further away from the city than a Northerner (unless you live in the Toorak area), you’re well prepared to make the most of summer with a variety of beautiful beaches at St Kilda, Seaford, Elwood, Brighton and many other suburbs. There are also wonderful beachside cafes and restaurants to dine at, such as Beachcombers in St Kilda and Doyles Bridge Hotel at Mordialloc. The nightlife is quite fast-paced and generally considered more ‘mainstream’ than the unconventional Northerners, particularly the nightclubs and bars in St Kilda and Chapel Street.
The South is also very multicultural, with Asians and Europeans being the most prominent races in these areas. Also, most Southerners are also stereotyped as ‘snobby’ in comparison to the ‘rough’ Northerners, and are apparently more self-obsessed about their pristine image, status and sleek new cars, as opposed to the Northerners who don’t boast as much about their bohemian lifestyles.
However, these generalisations can be contended in consideration to the whole demographic of the South; South-Eastern suburbs such as Cheltenham and Moorabbin are more modest suburbs, and other suburbs such as Frankston, Dandenong and Cranbourne have always been lower in the socio-economic ladder, which challenges the credibility of these assumptions; just as the North has its upper, middle and lower-class suburbs, so does the South. For instance, suburbs such as Broadmeadows and Frankston both have unstable reputations, since they’re considered to be heightened danger zones for crime; yet, these stereotypes could vary according to the locals who live there versus the people who have heard about these places. Also, the amount of media publicity that has highlighted both of these areas, in comparison to other suburbs, is quite prominent.
In conclusion, it is difficult to attach stereotypes to the North and South since they’re so diverse in terms of their contexts, cultures and social patterns. Both areas have their advantages and disadvantages, and Melbourne is a multicultural entity in itself; you will meet different types of people everywhere you go, regardless of where they live or where they’re from. While the rivalry is certainly captivating, I say it’s time we all put our differences aside and learn to live as a united entity — after all, we all share Melbourne as our home.
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