“Come to Coburg and experience tradition” is one the lines in the Coburg Traders Assoc. tv advert on Channel 31.
Coburg, Victoria is on the edge of Melbourne’s old inner 19th suburbs and the outer 20th century suburbs. A row of terrace houses on Hudson St. shows the point where cars started to influence Melbourne’s architecture; unlike the older inner city terraces, these terrace houses have been built separately to accommodate a carport.
I have enjoyed living in Coburg for two decades. There is a wonderful mix of people on the street from little old Italian men in three piece suits and hats, Muslim women in burkas and fashionably dressed youths. The traditions and bells of the Greek Orthadox church can occasionally be heard from the platform of the adjacent Coburg train station. But “tradition”, like ‘culture’, in Australia mostly refers to non-Anglo-American food and clothing. It is a superficial view of cultures and traditions; as superficial as Australians representing their culture with manufactured food products, like Kraft Vegemite.
The food in Coburg is inexpensive with good quality and variety. There is still a strong Mediterranean tradition influencing the choice of food in Coburg with Middle-Eastern fast food, falafels and kebabs, dominating. Many people in Melbourne know Coburg for its many Turkish restaurants that feature belly-dancers on Friday and Saturday nights.
Another cultural experience is Nila Restaurant that specialise in delicious south Indian style pancakes. The restaurant has TV sets at either end that generally play Bollywood music videos, except when India is playing cricket. On Moslem holy days the TV sets are switched off in the restaurant; this year I went Nila for their all you can eat Ramadan special.
Shopping in Coburg is easy for most items, except there are no bookshops; perhaps there are too many different languages in Coburg for a single bookshop to survive. In recent years more Indian shops have opened selling grocery shops everything from CD to rice and Indian clothing.
I have just bought myself an Indian suit, so that I can me cool, comfortable and well dressed at the next event requiring ‘formal/traditional’ dress held on an extremely hot day. Is this a experiencing tradition or am I just wearing something different?