I love living in Footscray. There’s something really appealing about this diverse, vibrant, gritty suburb. It’s only a stone’s throw from the CBD but until fairly recently was strangely resistant to the homogenising forces of inner city gentrification. Years ago, living in Footscray felt like living out in the boondocks, and people from outside the Western suburbs used to be scared to visit, being familiar only with the suburb’s reputation for gang violence and illicit drug use (Romper Stomper, the film about a violent clash between skinheads and Vietnamese gangs is set in 1990s Footscray). All that is changing now, with massive apartment buildings and townhouse developments appearing on land once devoted to manufacturing and light industry. It’s true you can still score heroin here, but it’s not as obvious as it used to be – coffee of all varieties is now the more obvious street drug of choice. It hasn’t lost its character though. It’s still a battler, still slightly down at heel, still welcoming of new migrants. Footscray has the charm of a nippy underdog finally coming into its own. We’ve always loved it for its multiculturalism, its cheerful market, great Vietnamese eateries and warm community feel, and all of that still thrives.
Words and images Venetia Brissenden. You can find more of Venetia’s work on Instagram @venetia_b