Water and Wood by Sarah Walker in Melbourne, Australia

When you take a tourist to Melbourne, they generally leave with hundreds of photos of the city’s alleyways, graffiti, paste-ups and tiny laneway coffee houses. The whole place sometimes feels like it’s been styled for an indie rock video clip. I’m always excited to find the pockets of air and space around the CBD – whether it be the lights of the bay across Brighton Beach at night (a city that shares almost nothing with its UK counterpart: instead of artists and fairgrounds, it’s home mainly to rich middle class people with tiny dogs), the strange brooding fire-stripped tree trunks of Mount Macedon or the golden, almost alien sandy cliffs at Sandringham. Melbourne might be a hipster of a city, but her surrounds are the sort of big, raw and breathtaking views that Australia so excels at.

Name:Sarah Walker

Theatre photographer


Finding theatre in the ordinary and the ordinary in theatre. Also currently running a year-long art bootcamp that anyone can enter at artolympics.net.

Tell us about Melbourne:

The rest of the world tends to presume that Australia is a hot, sandy paradise where the sun always shines and the beers are always cold. Melbourne, however, is like the artsy black sheep in a family of surf lifesavers – it feels a lot more like Berlin than Bondi. No matter how erratic the weather though, or how seriously the inhabitants take the coffee, or how determined we are to become a second Europe, Melbourne is still tied to its nature. On the one hand, this means ocean – not the pounding waves of Perth or the show-off sands of Sydney, but the still waters of the bay where families frolic by day and half-hopeful fisherman wander by night. One side of Melbourne that travellers and residents alike find easy to forget are the mountains. Quietly surrounding the city on two sides, we tend to be surprised every year by the bushfires that streak through the hills around us and stain the sky black. Ten minutes drive takes you from lush greenery to eerie burnt tree husks – like the weather, Melbourne’s surrounds are always changing. As a photographer, these surrounds provide a constant wealth of inspiration and new places to explore.

A perfect day?

Brunch at Gypsy Hideout cafe in Northcote (Melbourne is the global leader at smashed avocado and feta on toast), a drive with the windows down to the Dandenong Ranges to stand at the feet of giant, old trees, then a sunset trip to Sandringham beach for fish and chips as the day dips down.

What is the best thing about your spot?

A fervent passion for amazing food and coffee, a thriving arts community, ground swell left wing politics, tailored jeans for $50 (check out Dejour if you’re ever here) and happy dogs on leash-free beaches.

What is the worst?

Melbourne’s weather is so famous for its moodiness that Crowded House wrote a song about it. This means that every time the weather drops from balmy to icy in half an hour, everyone sings “Four Seasons In One Day”, which is only witty if you haven’t heard it six times a week since you were born.

What would be surprising about Melbourne to an outsider?

You’re going to need a jacket. No, really. I know that Crocodile Dundee didn’t prepare you for this, but you will.

If Melbourne was a person or character who would it be?

A scrappy kid who grew up reading classics, became vegetarian, rented a studio, bought an entirely black wardrobe and now makes theatre in carparks.

Who are three of your favorite artists?

I’m currently really digging Melbourne band The Harpoons, photographer Alexander Bergström, and Fitzroy shoe designers Preston Zly.



Name:Sarah Walker


Favorite place to eat:

Lentil as Anything at the Abbotsford Convent

Favorite place to drink:

Gypsy Hideout

Favorite shop:

Terra Madre, Northcote

Local Tip:

All the hipsters buy their jeans at Dejour on Sydney Rd. $50 gets you a pair in a range of rad colours, tailored to fit you.

Must Do:

Don’t just stay in the CBD. Head to Brunswick for great music and cheap Lebanese food. Go to the Abbotsford Convent for a slice of country life minutes from the city. Follow Merri Creek for a gorgeous leafy walk that you don’t have to leave town for.