Wednesday, January 25, 2006

I Know Where You Live #7

"And this also", said Marlow suddenly, "has been one of the dark places of the earth."
-Conrad

"No light, only darkness visible."
-Milton

"I'd rather lick a turd than stay here a minute longer."
-Jon

Though it is a fact little known among students of literature, each of these immortal lines was conceived as the author gazed Cortez-like (sans wacky helmet and pantaloons) out over the wastes of Caroline Springs.

For those few not familiar with the unendearingly earnest and enthusiastic TV advertisements in which spit-polished bogans, young married types and nervous yuppies espouse the many charms of their chosen suburb in the hope, misery loving company, that you too will move there, Caroline Springs is a community carefully planned as a utopian escape from the hustle and bustle of city living – cheap, clean, safe. Or so say the ads. Like every utopia from Eden on down however, Caroline Springs was doomed from the start to go horribly wrong, and the reality soon puts the lie to the marketing campaign (everything else you see on TV is, of course, completely true, though).

It is unfortunate people have forgotten that ‘Caroline Springs’ was in fact originally not a name but a warning placed on maps, cautioning unwary travellers against a surprisingly athletic madwoman who had escaped from a Melbourne asylum in 1892, and had been lurking in the area ever since. If they’d remembered, they may have had some idea of what to expect before they moved there; Caroline is sadly long gone, but her legacy of unwelcome surprises remains.

On approaching the suburb, one notices two things in quick succession: firstly, that it is indeed spaciously laid out, leafy and green, but only on the side of the highway used for sales brochures. The other side comprises acre after acre of scrubby, marshy back-lot, utilised largely for the purposes of dumping soiled mattresses, knackered shopping trolleys and angrily torn-up brochures. The second thing sure to strike you is the utterly soulless quality of the place – vapid Mc-mansions devoid of thoughtful design or liveability, mindlessly neat fences and roads, dull, boring gardens consisting mainly of well-kempt lawn, and an air of emptiness pervading even the most populous districts…Caroline Springs is the Stepford Wives of suburbs, and though some of us may have a soft spot for submissive, zombie-like traits in women, in suburbs it makes me want to puke.

‘But surely,’ you who viewed the TV ads with simple-minded longing say, ‘there is something to recommend about the place – the beautiful lake, the much-vaunted mall, the friendly families?’ Lies, lies and damn lies, I tell you. There’s a good reason why the ads never show people fishing, boating or swimming in the picturesque lake that is supposedly Caroline Springs’ biggest draw card: it’s two feet deep and consists mainly of stormwater (and, not to be slanderous, but presumably flesh-eating bacteria as well). The mall is the same as you’ll find in every hick outer suburb, all two dollar shops whose stock is of a fifty cent quality; perfect for outfitting your lovely new home in the latest bogan accoutrements. And the people… have you ever wondered about the sort of people who, when asked to sum up their suburb can find no better adjective than ‘ace’? Plus, the friendliness is mandatory. Seriously. In keeping with an Edenic lifestyle (to stretch my earlier analogy further than I really should), the Caroline Springs residents committee enforces a series of possibly senseless and definitely unjust bylaws which actively impose good neighbour policies; if you act impolitely, park your car on the street, have an overgrown garden, own loud kids, refuse to say ‘ace’ for the cameras and have the general air of a poor person, then you can consider your bags packed.

Listen: save yourself some trouble. Time spent in Caroline Springs is like dining on cardboard soaked in piss – you can survive the experience, but are you sure you want to? Let’s face it, the place is no Broadmeadows.

Caroline Springs: zero licked turds out of five.

11 comments:

Tony.T said...

But, Tim, it's a DELFIN EXPERIENCE, dammit!

Tony.T said...

Errr ... Jon.

JPW said...

Don't...ummm...those two bogan chicks live there? Kath and Kim?

Jon said...

Tony: dysentery might be qualified as an experience also, but I still wouldn't want to partake of it.

JPW: From what I gather, no: they live in a fictional 'burb. Caroline Springs is unfortunately far from fiction.

Anonymous said...

Hey, don't Kath and Kim live in, like, Foutain Lakes otherwise known as Fountain Gate the biggest boganville ever?

Anonymous said...

Hello!

i'm currently making a documentary on caroline springs and came across this blog. your thoughts are interesting and i'd like to know more about your experiences in Caroline springs.

My email is isabeldunstan@gmail.com

cheers.

Anonymous said...

Very amusing. And a nice contrast to to the faux blog espousing the glories of the hole. If you type "love [the suburb name]" you'll find it, with its two postings: one about footy to make to look casually real, and the other about CS with carefully crafted keywords for Google goodness.
Ah marketing folk!

clubwah said...

So the ads are a bit corny. Other than that you're full of shit.

I don't when was the last time you've been to Caroline Springs if at all. If so you'd know there is a lot more than a lake and a few trees. The education precinct with the massive community/sports centre and library officially is excellent and is across the road from a fast developing commercial areas which will include more shops, restaurants and even a 4-star Accor hotel.

There's plenty to do out here and unlike the inner suburbs it's not full of blow ins who move in near an inner city pub and then complain about the noise.


I have never heard anyone describe this place as ACE, except maybe in one of the ads and people here are actually friendly and pretty happy with life.

Hopefully I have some space to pick shit out of your unfunny, inaccurate vitriol.

- The other side comprises acre after acre of scrubby, marshy back-lot, utilised largely for the purposes of dumping soiled mattresses, knackered shopping trolleys and angrily torn-up brochures.

A lot of the Eastern Suburbs from Burwood to Mulgrave was built on old tips and farm paddocks - give it time!

- vapid Mc-mansions devoid of thoughtful design or liveability,

Wow, McMansions, how original. Actually some of them are wonderful and damn site better the the neo-Gerogian shit that has sprung up throughout our inner suburbs.

- mindlessly neat fences and roads, dull, boring gardens consisting mainly of well-kempt lawn,

Gee, how horrible, people have neat gardens, the fuckers. Let's move St Kilda and we can have dumped mattresses, used condoms and syringes in our front yard instead!

I'm not being defensive. I just object to something that is meant to be social critique being just an angry dig at a place and people who you seem to know nothing about.

Jamie said...

This type of critique is fashionable and gives a smug sense of self satisfaction to those that like to feel better about themselves by generalising about those they consider to be worthless.

All I can say is that I lived in inner city Melbourne for 12 years and loved it. Plenty of bars, lots to do. But it got boring after a while and my wife and I were ready for two dogs, a backyard and some kids.

That was not possible where we were living and by chance we ended up in Caroline Springs. It doesn't have the same vibe as the inner city and that is exactly why many people are out here. It is actually one of the better communities (and I mean community in the true sense of the word) I have lived in (and I have lived in several parts of Melbourne and northern, eastern and western parts of country Victoria).

I can understand your motivation for wanting to criticise an outer suburb like Caroline Springs. After all in my latte sipping inner city days I would have done exactly the same thing. But when I think back to those attitudes I seem them exactly for what they are now.

I was never an advocate of small scale developments of only a few hundred houses and no infrastructure. Caroline Springs is not small scale though, a whole suburb is being built including all the infrastructure that should be expected of a 'town' of 30,000 people. It can certainly appear sterile when viewed when it is only 1/3 constructed as it was when this blog was written.

I challenge the writer to revisit the suburb and in particular our Library and Schools and imagine what things will be like in a few years time.

It's not perfect by any means, but in the overall scheme of things this is a good place to live and for kids to grow up.

Anonymous said...

mo·ron (môrn, mr-)
n.
1. A stupid person; a dolt.
2. Psychology A person of mild mental retardation having a mental age of from 7 to 12 years and generally having communication and social skills enabling some degree of academic or vocational education. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

Anonymous said...

At the last state election the largest vote for Family First was in the seat that includes Caroline Springs. 16% I think. Dandenong was next with about 12%.