Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What relocalising looks like in Coburg

I wrote the other day about the film The Economics of Happiness, with the central theme being relocalising for a resilient community. On Friday, I had a wonderful “local” day in my Melbourne suburb of Coburg.

I was working from home, and when feeling peckish for lunch, I went around the corner to my local Lebanese bakery, Akaar Bakery. Those who know Melbourne know Coburg is a Middle Eastern heartland. I don’t know much about Lebanese bakeries, so most of it is new to me. I picked the Lebanese omelette and the Herb Pizza (I think thyme is the main ingredient, plus sesame seeds). It’s clearly a family business with only the young man looking after the store, who quickly put them in the oven for me. Weekends mean quite a few people are behind the counter and in the kitchen.  He made small chit chat, asking if I liked the omelette (beaten egg, poured onto the pizza and baked). I admitted I’d never eaten it before, but am working my way through their menu, though the Herb Pizza is a firm favourite already. I unexpectedly got a discount!

Later in the afternoon, I headed off for the local hardware store (not Bunnings, nor Coles, who both stock what I was after but buying there means most of the price goes out of the local area). Charalambous Hardware is a small shop front. On entering, I was amazed at how much stock they had managed to have in the store. Let’s say that vertical space was well used. The dusty front window is not a reflection of the order found inside. I quickly concluded this was a store to ask for the item not self-service (half the stock seemed to be behind the counter anyway), but before I got to the counter I was distracted by the seed packets – Australian and Italian. Not the run of the mill varieties.

After the gentleman assisted me in finding a watering can and spray bottle, he began quizzing me on gardening. Do I garden? What do I grow? What specific vegetables do I grow? Do I eat salad? Increasingly getting more specific and I think I must have passed a small test, as he then offered me Japanese salad seeds. Wow! He described the vegetable, a green and brown coloured leaf with bite, the seeds of which he was given by a family member. So I’ll go back this week and pick up the seeds. How lovely! Not an offer I would have got in a chain or supermarket!

I saw across the road a shoe store, Quik Shu. I had seen their advertisement in the local paper as it had a closing down sale (closes Friday 27 May 2011, with the Moorabin store remaining). I walked in to the sound of Italian babbling away by the older ladies. As the sale was on, I decided to buy some bright blue leather shoes for a bargain price.

On the walk home, I popped in to a Lebanese sweet shop for some Turkish Delight. The family must live behind shop, as I learnt early on in my move to Coburg that with a ring of the doorbell they would open the shop (they did put this on the sign). It is a simple, small white tiled shop with quite a few platters of sweets behind a glass cabinet. Yum!

So that is what it means to have a local day in Coburg! Very satisfying.


  1. What a fantastic day! I've been to coburg a few times. It's amazing what you can experience when you're open to it and open your eyes and heart.

  2. Yes, you can have such lovely experiences when you slow down, and as you say, open your eyes and heart. Well put!