Hope Street has yielded some bizarre and intriguing finds for us. We quite frequently walk down it late at night after gigs, when the undesirables are lurking in the alleys and the drunks are pissing in the stairwells of Walshe and Whitelock apartment blocks. On our slightly less perilous daytime walks down Hope Street, we had pointed out several dingy shops which, in our eyes, were quite clearly abandoned. I mean, some of these places (which I'm sure we'll cover in later entries) actually look structurally unsound.
However, things in the world of possibly condemned buildings are not always as they seem.
One night as we were walking home, I remember making a comment to the tune of "oh look, here's that awful abandoned shop, it's probably full of squatters". As we wandered by, I did a double take. Although I was convinced that this shop was last used since about 1960, the lights inside were on! From across the street, I peered through the oh-so-tasteful mouldering lace curtains. What I saw was even more confusing than the fact that people had apparently dared to enter this woeful hovel. Suspended from the ceiling were two objects of intrigue and mystery - a bicycle and a Chinese paper lantern.
Who the fuck would be active in a dingy old shop at 12:30am with a bicycle and a paper lantern? I'm pretty sure I have the answer. Given Melbourne's high Italian population, I believe this is some kind of Mafia arts and crafts den. Well, can you think of anything more plausible? I don't know what's going on here, but I think I'd like to join in. However, the "enter at your own risk" sign on the front door kind of deters me!
When I was looking for the street address for this place, I noticed that the image on Google Street View is quite different to how it looks now. I believe the Google photos were taken around 2009. They show the shop with much less graffiti, and the "enter at your own risk" sign is absent. If this is anything to go by, the shop must have sat festering for some time before the arts and crafts bicycle people moved in. Still, at least it serves a purpose - it makes the nice house next door look even nicer by comparison. For god's sake, paint your shop and it might arouse a little less suspicion!
|Google Street View image, markedly less graffitied.|