A micro-chat with a new local

By Rhonda Dredge

It takes 40 seconds to make a coffee and sometimes you can pick up enough information in that time to make a life-changing move.

The micro-chat has become a feature of Melbourne culture during the lockdown.

It’s the chat you have through masks, screens and windows.

Daniel Phillips, a barista at the House of Cards café at the Boyd Community Hub, has heard it all.

“A lot of people were looking for an excuse to get out of their apartments,” he said, and they came down to the House of Cards looking for company.

Many residents told Daniel they were leaving Southbank to go and live with their parents; others told him about splitting up and being forced to remain living together.

“You can spin your life story in 40 seconds,” he said.

One story that particularly interested him was the drop in rental prices during the lockdown and the great deals going in Southbank. You could get a two-bedroom apartment for $390 a week, down from $450.

Dan has stayed on at the job and has been doing quite a bit of travelling from St Kilda.

So, five weeks ago he made the move. He and his girlfriend signed a lease for an apartment in Kavanagh St.

Now he is ecstatic. “I had to wash four people’s dishes every day. Now I bung it in the dishwasher,” he said.

Agents say that Southbank attracts a transient population who move here to be close to their work in the CBD or the arts. When the jobs disappeared, many moved out.

But that logic is now working in reverse as the economy picks up and a new lot of workers is moving in.

“I love the convenience,” Dan said. “I can sleep in in the morning and walk to work.”

He said that Southbank was the most densely populated suburb in Australia but that you didn’t really see this at ground level.

The House of Cards abuts Boyd Park and there’s a great urban landscape with fly-overs just outside his work window.

The community centre is the engine room of the suburb looking after residents and the café is the place where you can exchange a few ideas.

One is that people like living close to work and will give up a location next to St Kilda Botanical Gardens to be at the centre of community life •


Caption: Daniel Phillips at work at Boyd Community Hub.

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