Sardines in Seddon?




Amid all the usual spam and SEO offers this week, Consider The Sauce received an intriguing communication from reader Tenille.

Here’s what she wrote:

“Hi Kenny

This might be a bit of a strange request, but I’m writing an article for a course I am doing and thought you might know someone who I could interview.

I’m planning to write an article on the impact of planning policy on the inner suburbs, with a focus on how new development is threatening neighbourhood character in the inner west, particularly Seddon. It’s nothing political and the angle will probably change depending on who I interview.

I want to steer clear of the whole gentrification discussion and look at whether planning policy is providing sufficient protection to neighbourhood character. In Seddon, the issue is not so much about huge apartment blocks going in, but more about rendered townhouses popping up on every second corner and the impact this is having on property prices, accessibilty and the local culture.

I’m hoping to chat to someone who has lived or worked in Seddon/Yarraville/Kingsville over the past 5-10 years and has seen it change. I’ve been in the area for five years, but I think it might be a bit of a one-sided argument to interview myself!”

After lunch – of course! – and a wide-ranging conversation involving a couple of fave Sunshine food spots, she and I decided the best way to handle this was to put it out there as a blog post.

For myself, I’d have to say that as a food blogger/journalist, I am usually focused on the business activity in any given neighbourhood, including Seddon.

Having said that, on the way back from Sunshine, Tenille and I spent some time cruising the narrow streets and laneways behind both sides of Victoria Street.

And I confess to being quite surprised by the amount of change of the kind she refers to that has taken place in the handful years that have passed since Bennie and I lived in Windsor Street.

In any case, we’re both interested to know what folks think …

17 thoughts on “Sardines in Seddon?

  1. I lived in Seddon between 2003 and 2005 and have been a reasonably frequent visitor ever since. I have noted many changes over the years and choose to share some of these now. Lucky, lucky you.
    1. The parents in the Gamon Street park are much better looking than they used to be, but none of their prams actually look like prams. This unnerves me.
    2. Seddon now has a night life. Back in the day, everything used to shut before 5pm. Except Sabroso’s, which would have been fine if it hadn’t had the air of being an ex-service station. It’s amazing what a difference a few beanbags out the front can make.
    3. The restorative powers of a chicken and coleslaw roll from the Chicken Man after a big night out can not be overestimated. Long may he serve them.
    4. Seddon once had a pharmacy. That closed circa 2005. As far as I know, Seddon has not seen the arrival of another pharmacy to this day. Why is there not a pharmacy? SHOW ME THE PHARMACY.
    5. I thought the appearance of the once-was Olive Oil show (now in Footscray) was the real turning point for Seddon, but the hipster barber has since changed my mind.
    6. The post office moved, like, two shops over and this never ceases to confuse me. I’m confused just writing about it.
    7. The ratio of cafes to residents is now approximately 15:1.
    8. I will never understand the opening hours of the Diamond Dog.


    • Hi Imbi! Thanks for a great comment! Actually, I reckon Sabroso and Anderson St on a Friday night aside, both Yarraville and Seddon can seem like tumbleweed country towns any time after dusk at the weekends.


  2. Hi Kenny/Imbi,
    Four generations of my family grew up in the Seddon area. I lived of Gamon St from birth until I was 13. The issue of ‘character and over-development’ is an interesting topic for me and as I live now in Williamstown the same issues rear their head. From my perspective, I can remember Sabroso being a Golden Fleece service station with a TAB across the road which is now a café. I clearly remember the Gamon St park being built and playing there until the park became a litter of used syringes. The pharmacy used to be owned by the Taylor family, friends of the family. The liveliest businesses were the fish and chip shop, owned by a Greek named John, who would prepare my families Friday night treat. My mother worked for years in an auto parts shop in Victoria St. My grandparents owned a fruit & veg business in a block of now demolished shops next to Seddon station. Anderson St and Ballarat St were occupied by various businesses that came and went with a few notable survivors. Drug addicts shot up in the Sun theatre. Burglary was a hobby, not a crime. I vividly remember murders, robberies, people that I went to school with effected. The 1970′s and early 80′s was a changing landscape for the inner west and at times not for the better. Now I eat in Yarraville and Seddon regularly. Once upon a time you could throw a hand grenade in any of these streets and nobody would have heard it, certainly not been killed by it. Both suburbs are abuzz with eating options, nightlife and a sense of ‘hipness’ that for me, is fantastic. A visceral urban evolution. For the sake of townhouses going up that may alter the skyline or drive property prices up, I say, so what?


    • Hi Sean
      Thanks for your insight – This is exactly the kind of discussion I was looking for!
      The evolution of Seddon just over the past few years has been quite exciting to see.
      Other people I have spoken to have mentioned how we are lucky that gentrification came to the west quite late as, to some extent, we have benefited from seeing the mistakes of other areas where development completely took over.
      It will be interesting to see how the area grows in the coming years – townhouses or no townhouses.
      Tennille (writer of abovementioned article)


      • You’re very welcome Tennille. Good luck with the assignment, I have two due this Friday myself so happy to help! If you have any other questions, post them, I’ll try to answer them for you.


  3. I grew up in the “new” area of Yarraville called Yarraville West. In the late 50s we were the last house in the street. I recall standing on the fence rail and coming face to face with cows grazing in the paddock next door.
    When mum wanted some haberdashery, it was a trip on the Yarravlle bus to Fred’s Emporium. If she wanted clothes etc, off to the Geelong Rd bus and into Footscray and Forges. If she really wanted a shopping expedition, it was off to Yarraville station and into Myers or Coles in the city. The highlight of this was lunch at either the Cole’s cafeteria or Myers.
    On a Saturday night my 8 year old sister would take me into Yarraville to The Sun theatre. I was 5. We would walk to the bus stop all by ourselves and catch the bus home late at night.
    My first job was at the State Savings Bank of Victoria in Charles St – now a newsagent(?). This was in the early 1970s. Lunch would ofter be from the fish and chip shop with the same shark protruding from the roof as it is today. On Friday’s a couple of us would go to Hart’s hotel for a counter lunch. Being growing boys, we’d often order 2 counter lunches each! We wouldn’t go to the Mona Castle because that is where the bank manager drank with one of the local business man. The chemist shop over the road had a cute shop assistant called Isabel. None of us eligible young bachelors could tempt her.
    Mr Bery had his charcoal grill shop on the south side of Charles St until a mysterious fire gutted the shop. Lo and behold his business resurrected with the building of that monstrosity on the corner of Gamon and Charles. The new downstairs restaurant was cavernous and replete with the salvaged scorched chairs from his old digs. It was such a pity when Bery’s Charcoal grill closed because his son didn’t want to carry on the business. He served up the best plate of meat bar none in all of Melbourne. And Kenny – it was BYO as well!!
    For better or worse gentrification has saved Yarraville from the wreckers ball. The place was dead during the 70s and 80s. Same with Seddon. With the rejuvenation, naturally some modernity has to be tolerated. As long as its only the crappy old weatherboards that sprung up between the major period styles get the chop.
    What I miss are all the old pubs that have closed. Sure the streetscape has largely been preserved thru being recycled as townhouses. But it is such a pity when old neighbourhood boozers like the Buck and the Essex are no more.
    Overall, progress has been good for the old neighbourhoods of Yarravlle and Seddon.


    • Thanks, Pablo – great stuff. Even I can remember when Le Chien was half the size it is now and the TAB was next door. Geez, how long has that shark been up there? I know the number of pubs in the inner west has decreased, but we’re still well served when compared to some parts of Melbourne. Have you been to the Rev?


    • Bery’s first little place burnt down when fat in the ,flu caught fire .
      He was NOT insured & had to borrow to buy & open Bery’s ,s in 2 Gamon St
      He was a hard working immigrant from Croatia but ill health saw him sell out for peanuts .


      • Thanks for your insights Vivienne. I was 18 at the time of my initial impressions of what Bery and his grill were up to. I just vaguely recall my boss the bank manager at the time passing comment about the unfortunate fire. It was just a few short years later that my GF and I became regulars at his new establishment.
        His food was that good I can say I still miss it.


  4. Great memories Pablo! Bery’s was fantastic, I’d forgotten that. You mentioned Coles in the city, did you ever go to the Coles cafeteria in Footscray? To this day, the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my life and I’ve had a few. I cried when that place closed.


    • Hi Sean,

      I can only vaguely remember Coles Variety Store in Footscray. No doubt mum with the kids had a plate of fish and chips there too!



    • Bery’s was a great charcoal grill, but they also did fantastic, authentic Balkan dishes, and the jukebox was a tripper, lots of glam bands like T-Rex, Wizard, Bowie, and they never updated it. By the way the Bery’s on the corner of Charles & Gamon st was a petrol station originally, and the toilet, even under Sobroso’s ownership were original from the servo days. Does anyone remember the charcoal grill at the other end of Gamon st on Somerville Rd, opposite the Catholic Church? It was pretty short lived.


  5. There was a private clinic in Tongue Street where I was born at the end of the war. Dad and his 4 brothers were born and raised in Thomson Street and when he died at 91 his funeral at Hollingbones and wake at the Mona Castle was as he had planned. Dad was a local plumber and Scout Master until he retired. He and his brothers were educated at St Augustine’s as were my sister and I. The Joey nuns were formidable but with classes of 80 plus and many new migrants they needed to be.
    Working class families were committed to education for the kids and everyone I knew following the Dogs.. The tram ran from Footscray down Victoria Street to Somerville Road until ? the 60’s.
    Dining out was unheard of apart from Coles Cafeteria in Footscray and take away was Friday night fish n chips or chinese food from Jimmy Wongs or Poons (carried in our saucepans).
    Cafes and gift shops did not exist, the Seddon shops were milk bars,greengrocers, butchers, cake shops, barbers, chemist, boot makers and newsagents.
    Kids played on the street after school or at the Footscray Baths in Buckley Street in the summer. One of clearest memories is of people dancing in the streets when the Dogs won the flag in 54. Social life was focused around the church with the Sunday night dance in the Parish Hall the highlight of the week. Tame by today’s standards but a great place to flirt and dance and maybe get walked home by a cute boy!


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