Walk Leaders: Clare Leporati, Stephen Leporati, Annie Bolitho, and Janet Bolitho
Text by: Clare Leporati and Stephen Leporati
Photographs by: Clare Leporati
Serendipitously, two duos of brothers and sisters (Clare and Stephen Leporati and Annie and Janet Bolitho) held three walks in Melbourne, Australia, covering topics such as a much-maligned dockland development, symbols pertaining to public and private life, and the role of steps as points of congregation and of access to the city’s inconspicuous histories. The familial connections among the walk leaders generated an atmosphere of inclusion, sparking conversations about collective history and intergenerational perspectives.
Each walk evoked a sense of wonder amongst locals and visitors alike. There was a discussion of one site’s transition from pies and newspaper stands (pre-1970s), to a concrete savannah frequented by skaters and teenage smokers (1970-1990s), to Melbourne’s unique cultural heart (2000-present).
Participants peppered the conversations with a variety of anecdotes. At a soon-to-be demolished cinema, an electrician shared his memory of working in the building back when it first opened. He had worked on the air conditioning ducts, through which he was sometimes able to see the films as they were being screened. As he moved from duct to duct, however, he could only see parts of each film at a time. He saw The Deer Hunter like this, in a fragmented way.
Another participant from out of state recollected a personal pilgrimage to toast a famous painting of a nude woman at an iconic hotel, in honour of his father, who did the same during WWII.
There was a sense of discovery, as walkers encountered a forgotten street corner that was formerly Melbourne’s major rendezvous point for lovers, a community garden and warming fire pit in the midst of the docks, a labyrinth of stairs, studios and offices above an ornate Victorian arcade, and a closed-off bowling alley in a railway subway concourse.
Participants echoed Jane Jacobs’ sentiments on the uniqueness of experiencing cities at street level and at walking pace. They gushed with love for the city and a strong desire to maintain its heritage, whilst observing that to remain dynamic and relevant, a city also requires an eye on the future.