Posts Tagged ‘Footscray

Permaculture Out West are holding an open BYO picnic at the Maribyrnong Living Museum this Sunday and you’re all invited!

It’s our end of year get together, and will be part of a full day of festivities as part of ‘Memorybyrnong’ project – celebrating all the stories of people living in the area of Maribyrnong.

If you haven’t been to the Living Museum, here’s a great opportunity to check it out! Situated by the Maribyrnong River in Pipemakers Park, off Van Ness Ave, Maribyrnong (Melway Ref Map 28 B10), it’s a beautiful site. My favourite part is the History Of The Land Garden. View Map

There are other groups holding events throughout the day, Permaculture Out West will be having the BYO picnic from 4pm-7pm. You can come down to say hi, see what we’re about, but it’s also going to be the opportunity to put some faces to the email addresses on the mailing list! Should be a lot of fun.

If you’re REALLY keen, POW will also be having a stall at the Braybrook Big Backyard adjacent to Braybrook Community Garden on Churchill Ave too:

Braybrook’s Big Backyard
Sunday 29 November, 12noon to 4pm
Braybrook Community Centre
107-139 Churchill Ave, Braybrook Park

So much happening out west!

ALSO while I’m at it, this looks like it’s going to be lots of fun too!:

Hope to see you at one of them!


[image from flickr
– imagine if we could establish something like THIS right here in Maidstone! To share with all!]

So many exciting community projects happening in the inner west at the moment!

Last month I attended my first Permaculture Out West meeting – I was so excited to hear it even existed! Like minds in my own neighbourhood, who’d have thunk it? Actually these guys put me to shame, I’ve just scrabbling to find out what’s going on and helping where I can.

One project I am particularly interested in is a proposal they are putting forth to council to start up some market community gardens at a site in Maidstone. Council are wanting to sell the disused land that was once upon a time the old Maidstone Community Centre and later a tennis club. It’s just a short walk from our place.

The POW group are pitching to council to delay the sale for 5 years and to let us try and establish some kind of community market gardens, in the model of CERES. The idea is that the organic produce grown at the gardens would be available for purchase and you could subscribe to get a $20 a week box of seasonal veggies delivered to your door etc..

They are collecting signatures and email to council, but it needs to be in by Oct 30. So if you are a local resident in the Maribyrnong Council area, and think it’s a good idea, please take five minutes to write a short support email to the address below!

Maribyrnong City Council is seeking expressions of interest for the purchase of council land by public tender for Maidstone Public Hall site at 16 Thomson Street Maidstone.

Permaculture Out West (POW) is proposing that the land be kept in community hands.

Permaculture Out West ( is a group of individuals interested in growing more food in the city.

  • Our goals are:
  • to reduce our impact on the rural landscape;
  • to produce food in a more sustainable way. No petroleum based
  • to re-connect people to their community and to the land.

We are a not-for-profit group. Run by community members for the community.

POW’s proposal is to develop a market garden on Maidstone Public Hall site. Vegetables would be grown on site without the use of pesticides and herbicides. Water would be harvested from the site’s building.

  • Planned Services
  • a weekly box of fresh vegetables
  • box of vegetables delivered to your door
  • collection of your food waste. This will be composted and used for the garden beds.

We are proposing a commercial operation that will employ 2 people on site to maintain the gardens. Parking and traffic will be kept to a minimum. We respect the right for people to enjoy their neighbourhood and not add additional car traffic and parking problems.

If you support POW’s proposal to keep the land in community hands, please register your support by sending an email to Please include your name, address, phone number and email address. We’ll use your name and address in the Expression of Interest application to show the level of support for a market garden. Your details will NOT be passed onto a third party, and we won’t attempt to contact you unless you indicate you’d like to be actively involved.

If you cannot email or if you want more information, please call Katerina: 0422 261 725.

Our expression of interest must be submitted by Friday 30th of October, so please contact us before then. This is our only chance to keep this land in community hands!

[image from my flickr set]

Back in August I posted about the fantastic Vietnam On A Plate tours that are put on FREE by Maribyrnong Council in Footscray.
I was very excited to read in the local paper that they are running some more throughout October but turns out they are all booked out already! They really fill up fast.
Anyway if you live in the area keep an eye on the local newspapers. Hopefully with the demand they will run some more soon.

[galangal at Little Saigon Markets, Footscray, from my flickr]

Last month I played tourist in my own neighbourhood – a FOOD tourist, if such a thing exists.

I feel quite spoilt that our local council puts on things like free gardening workshops and free food tours! That’s right – FREE FOOD TOUR! It’s called ‘Vietnam On A Plate’ and apparently the tours have been running them for about 12 years now.

It was kind of like that SBS show Food Safari, except in my own neck of the woods! I have been living in Melbourne’s inner west for almost 5 years now – Footscray for the first few and now Maidstone.

When we first moved here we were both intrigued and intimidated by the sheer abundance of eatery and food shopping choices available to us in our new area. There are a couple ‘little Vietnam’ areas in Melbourne. The most famous ones are Victoria Street, Richmond and Barkly Street, Footscray. I am sure there are more! Footscray is also home to quite a number of African restaurants (mainly Ethiopian) and bakeries, a couple of Filipino food stores, many Asian supermarkets, Indian food stores, vegetarian food stores – you name it!

It wasn’t long before we started sampling the many Vietnamese restaurants in our area but the problem was trying to pick which one. They were all so busy and each seemed to specialise in something different. And then when we did find one we enjoyed and wanted to revisit we couldn’t remember which one it was. The busy one… with a glass front… with a mirror along the side… oh that’s ALL OF THEM!

We finally have gotten our head around it somewhat. We have our favourite pho place, hot pot place, we did have a favourite roast place but they retired 😦 , favourite Ethiopian place…

But what we really wanted was a local to show us the neighbourhood’s best kept and not-so-well kept secrets. We had only managed to find out our local haunts by trying them ourselves but I am sure there are PLENTY we haven’t gotten to trying yet, and our friends, like us, are folk who have only recently moved here too.

So you can imagine how excited I was when I read that our council were running a free tour of Vietnamese stores and eateries. The tours are very popular. I tried to sign up to attend one in 2008 but was too late and all the spots were booked.

2009 I was very lucky. I had my email address added to a list to find out when the next lot of tours were being run. I was in Bali at the time I received the email but I still managed to get a spot, but only for myself.

They keep the tours very small. There were only about 7 of us in my group. We met at the Rooftop of the Footscray Markets at 10am. I had never been right up to the rooftop. It was freezing and windy but there is a fabulous view of the city skyline from there, Footscray really is so close to the city. So sad to think the city views are steadily vanishing from our area as developers building big ugly apartment blocks everywhere.

The tour was led by Mei Ling, a Malaysian born Chinese, just like my Dad! As she took us through the marketstalls in the Footscray Markets we were able to ask her to identify all the strange Chinese vegetables we’d always wondered about and she would tell us what it was and the common ways of preparing it. She also gave us lots of tips on how to choose the good ones (I’ll share some random notes in another post).


[lotus root]

Though I have shopped at Footscray Markets many times, Mei Ling took us to stores I have always walked past. She showed us which one was best for western style herbs (a real rarity in Footscray – where everything is catered to the Asian consumer), identified a wide variety of mysterious Asian vegetables, herbs and spices for us, and showed us the unusual cuts of meat you can get at different butchers in the markets. For example, there is a store you can you get chicken spare ribs! There is only one pair per chicken I think they said.

All good markets are hectic environments, and Footscray Market is definitely not for the faint hearted! But personally, that is what I love about the place. I don’t mind a bit of hustle and bustle, you just can’t be shy or delicate about it, you have to roll up your sleeves and get amongst it, or the little Asian grandma next to you is going to elbow her way to the front and get the best fish right from under you!

[world’s weirdest cacti at a flower store at the Footscray Markets. are these things grafted? look like bizarre underwater creatures]

Our tour took us beyond Footscray Markets. We ventured out onto Barkly Street and I was finally able to sample some food at the Bo De Vegetarian Restaurant run by the local monks. I have long been working up the courage to go in there. I remember reading a review in Cheap Eats that talked about the special banquet they have available on the full moon, but that the service might be particularly slow because the monks are all fasting! Wasn’t able to test the accuracy of that statement, but we did have the most delicious vegetarian cold rolls there.

Mei Ling also took us to the biggest Asian supermarket in the suburb:

I have driven and walked past this place COUNTLESS times in my five years in the inner west. It really looks like nothing much from outside, just another fruit and veg store. How wrong I was! It has such a huge range of items inside. Including a whole aisle of religious paraphenalia:

From your more traditional kind of shrines through to your plug in and glow variety, paper money to burn for offerings, incense and these things:

You can also buy these packets of paper versions of worldly possessions for you to burn, so your loved one can take it with them in their afterlife. Here you can see a paper shirt and tie, watch and mobile phone!

In another aisle I was wondering why these ceramic pots had 2 handles and this other weird third handle with a hole in it:

Actually seems it’s used for medicinal purposes. And old school style humidifier?

This store also sells packets of seeds to grow your own exotic Asian vegetable.

I scrambled down notes throughout the tour as we quizzed Mei Ling on her preferred brand of soya sauce, rice paper rolls, curry powder etc.. She also gave us great tips on how to choose the best vegetables, prawns etc.. I’ll share them with you in another post!

We moved along to Little Saigon, which are some other markets in the neighbourhood. Crazy that we have 2 big markets in the area – there is Footscray Markets which are very easy to spot on Barkly Street. But there are also the Little Saigon Markets which are a street back, on the opposite side of Barkly Street.

First we stopped in at a local Chinese medicine store. Here you can see them making little packets of herbs ready to be cooked up in a chicken broth to cure and ease your ailments! This was a revelation to me. When we were in Korea last year, we came across a famous restaurant that only sold one very famous dish – ginseng chicken soup! I tried to replicate it when I found you can buy packets of herbs ready to go in the Asian supermarkets to make your own Ginseng chicken soup. BUT you can hop along to your local Chinese medicine store, tell them your ailments and they will put together a specialised mix of herbs for you to cook up to treat your particular dreaded lurgy!

On to Little Saigon Markets. These guys seem to open longer hours than Footscray Markets. In fact apparently 7pm is a good time to rock up if you want to really score some bargains.

Here we are at the fruit stall, where they are letting customers sample some jackfruit segments.

Here is one of my most favourite fruits! MANGOSTEEN! I was looking for it everywhere when we were recently in Bali but I think it might have been the wrong time of year because I couldn’t seem to find it. Little did I know, I could get it in my own ‘hood.

Look at these cute little eggplants. Don’t find these at Coles, now do ya!

And all the big bunches of fresh, fragrant herbs! Such an integral part to Vietnamese cuisine and one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. So cheap, so fresh, so healthy!

The main dish I know of Vietnamese cuisine is Pho – big steaming bowl of broth with noodles and your choice or chicken or beef. You can add fresh chillis or chilli oil, bean sprouts, Vietnamese mint and regular mint… It’s great in winter. We eat it quite regularly. There are lots of Pho restaurants in Footscray and everyone seems to have their favourite.

But Mei Ling took us to a different kind of Vietnamese restaurant, and included in our tour, we were treated to some traditional dishes I hadn’t seen or tasted before!

Firstly we tried a deliciously refreshing green papaya salad. The papaya tasted just like apple, and was mixed with shredded pork and prawn, peanuts, carrots, cucumber (?), coriander and other herbs. We mixed it up, put it on top of the crispy crackers and it was a wonderful mix of textures and flavours – sweet and sour, moist and crunchy.

Next up, some grilled fish served on a bed of onions, in a sizzling hot plate and topped with lots of fresh dish. We ate it in the traditional Vietnamese style – using lettuce leaves, filling it with soft cold white noodles, fresh mint leaves, some fish and dill, wrapping it up and dipping it in the sweet chilli sauce. Delicious!

And finally, a Vietnamese omelette, again filled with prawns and pork and various fresh veggies and herbs.

Phew I was stuffed! Not bad at all for a free tour!

[image from flickr]

Last year I had a grand ol’ time at my local council‘s free gardening workshops. They hold them every spring and there’s always so much to learn!

I’m very pleased to report that the gardening workshops are back this month and this surely must be their biggest programme of gardening workshops yet! AND they’re running their second Local Edible Gardens Tour too. We had the best time at the last one, it was so inspirational to see all the amazing edible gardens in our own neighbourhood!

And, I do believe you don’t actually have to be a Maribyrnong Council resident to attend these workshops. I remember the odd person attending who lives in another municipality but heard of the workshops through a friend or because they work at council. So it’s well worth enquiring if you’re keen.

Maribyrnong Gardening Workshops 2009:

  • Sun 9 Aug – Home fruit growing
  • Sun 9 Aug – Fruit grafting workshop
  • Sun 16 Aug – Getting an early start on spring veggies
  • Sun 23 Aug – Spring cleaning: the eco friendly way
  • Sun 6 Sep – Gardening in small spaces and containers
  • Sun 20 Sep – Cook pizzas in a wood fired oven
  • Sun 27 Sep – Edible gardening for kids and their parents
  • Sun 4 Oct – Mosaic art for the garden
  • Sun 11 Oct – Summer salad garden
  • Sun 18 Oct – What is this thing called Permaculture?
  • Sun 25 Oct – Planning your Autumn/ Winter veggie garden
  • Sun 8 Nov – Local Edible Gardens

Full programme details here.

You can read about some of the fun we got up at last year’s workshops here:

[from the Local Edible Garden Tour 08]

I am also very excited to see that there are some upcoming Permablitzes in MY neck of the woods. I’ve been itching to get to another once since my first Permablitz experience last year but they have always clashed with other commitments. But with 2 western suburb ‘blitzes planned in coming weeks you can be sure for some ‘blitz bloggin’ shortly.

I’ve just put my name down to go to this.

Melbourne Museum Of Printing field trip

It’s in my neck of the woods and I figure it will be a nice opportunity to meet other Melbourne crafty types.

Would love some company seeing I won’t know anyone else there so if you’re keen for more info, go here.


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