Hello … yes, that’s us waving madly ... you remember us? The existing Montague community!

Trisha Avery

We read with some interest the article in March’s edition of this very newspaper, an article titled “Development in Montague ‘powering on’”.

It was great to see the positive spin being put on the 10 developments worth $650 million currently being built in the Montague Precinct.

It was also great to read the Fishermans Bend Development Board chair Meredith Sussex using upbeat language regarding the promise for future residents and businesses.

However, we are really starting to find it troubling that there is NEVER any mention of the existing residents and businesses, and what is being put in place for us/them, while this level of acute development is occurring.

Some have already left the precinct as the noise, dust and parking disruption is awful, others are not able to leave and are gritting their teeth and hoping that someone might notice them and provide some assistance for their loss of quality of living.

It has been very interesting for the Montague Community Alliance to note that each time a new build is complete, and people move in (both commercial and residential), we have a sharp uptake of interest in our community group (for which we are grateful) as the newbies to the precinct grapple with the challenge of a mixed-use precinct, fast growth and, in some cases, lost views and amenity.

Now you might say, well didn’t they know it was in Fishermans Bend the fastest growing and largest urban development in Australia? Well, no, not everyone did or does, and why would they?

The marketers, estate agents, developers, government are not telling them about these important factors before they settle here …

So, don’t you think it might be time to be upfront about what it’s like to live and work in a development sector and to be thoughtful to the existing community?

Please note, we are still waiting for a meeting with the Fishermans Bend Taskforce, we are still waiting for approval (post-COVID) for an office in the precinct for people to interact with decision-makers … all promises still to be met.

Let us reiterate that we are happy that the precinct is moving forward, and most people are very welcoming of new businesses and residents.

It would, however, be good to have the council and the state government on our side as well as the developers and future community, we are still hopeful.

As usual we thank you for reading and please get in touch with any ideas or thoughts about the Montague Precinct.

We continue our “Meet a Montaguan” with Kathy Martin – a great contributor to the precinct.

Who are you, tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Kathy Martin and I am a sports physiotherapist and a mental health counsellor. I work with WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), so in non-COVID times, I travel extensively with my job to assist the elite woman tennis players. Work is like a travelling circus, no two days are the same and a cast of inspirational international sports women feature. When home, I enjoy being able to unpack and refresh my appreciation of this area, of Melbourne and its lifestyle. I love to cook, walk, swim, be with my dog, connect with friends and tend my wee garden.

What brought you to live or work in the Montague Precinct (MP) of South Melbourne?

I have lived in Port Melbourne for 30-plus years. I love the beach, all the parks, the pubs and restaurants and the people. I moved officially into Montague two years ago, I just fell in love with this old worker’s cottage, one of few still standing in the precinct.

What are the best and/or most interesting things about working or living in MP?

It’s fabulous to be so central to three great places: South Melbourne shops and the market; Bay St, Port Melbourne and the beach and Albert Park village and St Vincent Gardens – all within 10 minutes’ walk. And, 10 minutes on the 209 tram (or the 96) and voila, you are in the centre of Melbourne. I love the rich history of Montague and the juxtaposition of old and new, residents, businesspeople, industries. Oh, and the car mechanics (we have a LOT!). And exploring all the little side streets and bluestone lanes with quirky cafes hidden therein.

How does working or living in Montague affect your quality of life/work?

2020 for us all brought major changes. For me, it meant an extended period of time at home and the first time in many years that I did not hop on and off a plane. Working from home for months and months was challenging, but I enjoyed the opportunity it provided to get to know my neighbours and to make some new friends on my daily dog walks. I actually enjoyed being in Melbourne through one complete winter. Sunny calm days after frosty mornings, walking on the beach or in the park with my dog were heavenly.

What are the challenges of working or living in MP?

There is so much construction - there really is a lot of noise going on! And, it brings dust and dirt that gets into the house. This was very noticeable (and often annoying) when working from home. I fear what was historically swampy land, is now being swamped by concrete and glass.

If you could change something about the MP, what would it be?

Fewer high-rise buildings and more green shared space within Montague would be fantastic. I lament the loss of much of the old architecture and homes, and with it many of the residents. While new apartments bring more people, we should ensure that the area maintains and respects its history and bring amenities and provides character to street level. Why not renovate the old factories and warehouses. Create space for artisans and creative industries. Montague also needs a lick of paint. Street art and pictorial/sculptural references to the area’s rich heritage, abundant ecology and evolving story about the people who lived here – from its first inhabitants, to the current day would be a good start. This would help rejuvenate the spirit of Montague.

If you have any questions, please call Trisha Avery 0411 142 600 or email [email protected]

Join our Facebook Group