BeeeasT Burgers, 1 Alexandra Avenue, Tarneit. Phone: 9974 6971
It’s difficult to imagine a more whitebread upbringing than school life in particular and life in general than that experienced by CTS in the ’60s and ’70s.
There were occasional exotic influences and people – though not much in the way of exotic food – but by and large Maori people and culture in particular were something that happened in textbooks, the North Island or the All Blacks.
A later career move that found me living, and surfing, in Gisborne and, before and after, in Wellington brought a more homogenous New Zealand to my life.
Still, the Melbourne move when it came was made at least in part because of the desire not to simply slip into a Kiwi sub-culture in, say, Sydney or Brisbane.
I love my Kiwi brothers and sisters, whatever their genre, but I have no desire to be surrounded by them at the expense of all else.
But after almost 15 years in the west, there has been a change.
It started – or, rather, I started to notice it – at Bennie’s primary school, where one of his best pals was a young Maori lad.
It continued with the thoroughly Kiwi-infused vibe of the Footscray Bulldogs Rugby Union Club, for which Bennie played for a couple of seasons.
In more recent times, I have enjoyed monitoring the ups and downs of the Altona Roosters Rugby League Club, though I have yet to make it to a game.
As well, I am enjoying observing through Facebook the beaut work of Victoria Maori Wardens and their efforts to keep Maori and Islander youngsters from getting into big trouble. I will make it a point to meet them one day.
I even diary-marked a couple of Waitangi Day functions this year – one in Elsternwick, one in Altona – but sadly missed both.
Maori may not flow in my blood but it resides in my soul, and is capable of surprising me with the force and profundity with which it sometimes surfaces.
All these things are but a reflection of the fact the Maori and Islander population of Melbourne’s west has increased dramatically in the past decade or so, drawn like so many of us from around the world by housing prices but also, these days, no doubt by a sense of community as well.
Honey knows all about it.
She and her family live in Point Cook, but Honey travels to Manor Lakes p-12 College for her regular gig as assistant principal.
Assistant principal of a western suburbs school of 1800 or so kids?
Oh yes, she knows very well the changing face of the west in general and its Maori/Islander face in particular.
Incredibly, Honey has another job – she is a co-owner and co-proprietor of BeeeasT Burgers in Tarneit.
The business has been up and running since November yet in that time it has amassed a staggering 9000-plus Facebook likes.
So it is with an easy smile that I front up for a chat and a feed.
In truth, aside from sweet potato chips on the menu (see below) and L&P in the fridge, there’s nowt that is particularly Kiwi about the fare here.
But there is no mistaking the nature of the management or the joint’s customers.
Many of the burgers listed are more complex and grandiose than fit my immediate needs, so I go for the Fair Dinkum ($10) – minus the pineapple.
All Beeeast burgers come with chips.
Those chips appear a tad nondescript but are really excellent and hot.
Similarly, my burger looks modest but goes down a treat.
It’s like a cross between an Aussie-style corner store burger and Grill’d, mostly because the very good patty has a real beefiness about it.