Thursday, October 20, 2005

I Know Where You Live #3

I know all of you out there in blog land have been champing at the bit for another suburb review, and who am I to say no to your dear little faces? Pay attention, now; this week, it's:

South Morang.

The interesting thing about South Morang - the only interesting thing - is that, according to the map at least, there is no actual Morang to be south of. Perhaps this Atlantis, this El Dorado of suburbs does exist, but I for one couldn't be bothered travelling any further north to find it. South Morang is a ludicrously boring place which saps you of the will to do anything but turn around and go home.

Existing at the very edge of the greater Melbourne metropolitan area, South Morang is one of those places that appears to be waiting to exist: for humans to flesh it out, give it character. In it's current state, little can be said about it. It is generally quite flat. There are some cows. That's about it. The place feels like a weekend at your grandmother's, and the air smells faintly of cardboard. Any people that you spot - and it may be a while before you do - tend to be mooching along slowly by the side of the road, apparently wondering why they're in South Morang and what the best way out might be. If they see you, they will run and hide, terrified by your citified ways and upright posture.

As with all liminal spaces, however, there is an undercurrent of immanent change in South Morang. Civilization is pushing over the borders, and the excess population of Mill Park to the south is slowly spilling into its northern neighbour (in much the same way as a drain will leak sewage after a heavy rainfall). The evidence shows up in decidedly strange places, usually the middle of no-where: large, shiny and noticeably empty buildings can be seen dotting the otherwise barren landscape. Most often, these take the form of shopping malls - brand new, spotlessly clean shopping malls, crouching expectantly in the middle of windswept fields, apparently deviod of all life barring the occasional curious cow.

In earlier times, towns grew up beside watering holes, along trading routes, or around sites of religious or strategic significance. Nowadays, it seems, the shopping mall is the seed from which civilisation springs: "the opportunity to live near outlets for processed foodstuffs, tacky plasticised small goods and cheap! cheap! cheap! bargain basement clothing is an instant draw-card for your average nuclear-type family", the captains of industry have figured. "Let's bung a few malls in some godawful wasteland and watch 'em swarm". This 'if you build it, they will come' (and yes, I feel physically sick quoting from a Costner movie; let's just move on and never mention it again) mentality seems bizzare, but is apparently successful. Already one can see signage ear-marking tracts of land for high-density housing. It may be that some day soon South Morang will become a bustling metropolis; until that time the shopping malls wait, unlit but hungry.

The cows' thoughts on these developments have gone unrecorded.

South Morang: two heifers out of five.


Brownie said...

oh Sternzy I hear you. don't get me started. I moved from St.Kilda to WoopWoop in 1996 and Caroline Springs was not there. nothing. Now, there are thousands of cars turning off the Western Highway into that Mortgage Pool, the speed on the highway is down from 110 to 80 and why the hell wasn't the Deer Park Bypass started at the same time as CP?
Do Australia a favour - kill a Developer today!

Ben said...

If there's no Morang and only a South Morang, does that mean if a suburb was created lower down it would be called South South Morang?

I damn well hope so.

Ben said...

And one higher up would be North South Morang?

Think of the possibilities!

TimT said...

Yeah? Yeah? Do you know where I live, Jonny-boy?

Jon said...

Ben: I checked out an online map which oddly enough insisted that below South Morang was Morang South. Somewhere a cartographer is cackling hysterically.

TimT: Please don't make me admit gaps in my knowledge. My self-esteem is built upon such groundless assertions as you'll find in the subject header.

Tony.T said...

I teach kids from South Morang. The cows are smarter.

divinetrash said...

Jon, that was such a good entry that it almost makes me want to visit South Morang.


What Victorian shanty town is next in the series? We can only wonder...

Russ said...

Jon, perhaps once upon a time cities used to live on trade routes, or near water supplies, but here in Melbourne we long ago cast aside such petty bourgeois considerations. Here it has almost always been garden suburbs, popping up like weeds along the rail-lines that could take you back to civilisation.

Of course, once everyone owns a car, one paddock is as accessible as any other; so South Morang is something else. It is a "planned community" in a "designated growth area" specially created by government fiat. It is all planned out on the map, soulless shopping mall here, hideously ugly tuscan villas and mailbu beach-houses there, and a rail corridor to connect it all together.

The last bit is quite controversial. Apparently some of the local residents thought a "rail corridor" would actually mean having a "railway line". I'm not sure why, Melbourne has a fine history of building railway corridors unblighted by the ugly steel tracks and noisy carriages. But there you go.

If you are ever back there, ask someone about the railway. They'll happily talk about it for hours.

Jon said...

Good lord! Russ, that was entirely too sensible and intelligent a comment for such a silly, off the cuff post as mine. I knew South Morang was a planned community area, but I han't heard of these fabled railway corridors before. Unfortunately, I've opted to forgo the myriad lapidary charms of South Morang for a little while (i.e. forever, if possible), so talking to the locals is a pleasure that'll have to wait for another day.

Anonymous said...


What can I say... you're a wanker! As with all the other suburbs in Melbourne they too were developed at some stage. Obviously the process doesn't happen overnight, the entire CBD didn't just pop up out of the ground one night back in the early 1800's. So tell me Jon with no h, what fine suburb do you come from???


Jon said...

A suburb in which the repetition of question marks is a jailable offence, and a sense of humour is considered requisite to a well-rounded character, Brad.

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