"Two years ago I started going for walks around Southbank after work and inviting others along. The walks were popular so I began organising other diverse activities. I have since met around 300 people through what started as the walking group, which I named Southbank Socials. More than 20 of those people have also become good friends.
I grew up in Iran and moved to Australia in 2010 because my brother was here. I came as a student to Brisbane and studied electronics. I then moved to the Gold Coast, then Sydney. In 2018 I moved to Melbourne and my family slowly followed. I now have three of my brothers living here and my parents also joined us from Iran a year-and-a-half-ago.
I originally started the group as a way to meet people. If I had an idea such as I want to go on a bike ride, I thought why not advertise it and see who else wants to come. I would say Southbank Social has changed me, before I was socially awkward and now I have lots of friends and it has given me skills to talk to people.
At one point I was organising between four and five meet ups each week. Now, it’s more like two a week. There has been a small reduction in people coming since the end of the pandemic as people have more to do.
I advertise the activities on the online platform, Meetup. For the Southbank walks, we meet outside the National Gallery Victoria (NGV) at 7pm on Wednesdays. We do a different walk every week. We’ve done Fawkner Park, Albert Park, Fitzroy Gardens, and Docklands. We do a minimum of 5km, and have walked up to 15km before - that walk took 2.5 hours.
I enjoy chatting to different people. If there’s an odd number of people I keep silent and make sure everyone talks."
"I get to meet people from all over the world. One Chinese lady I met doing the walks ended up teaching me how to drive before I got my professional lessons and now we go to the same dancing class as well. Another Italian guy and I share a love for coffee, so I also invited him to the same dance class.
We often do one arts meet up a week and try and go to see comedy around three times a year. I try and book tickets in advance for these meet ups – it’s not too time consuming, you just need to know what’s happening. We’ve had meet ups doing bike rides and played badminton. I’d like to plan a barbecue meet up soon, for all the different people I’ve met along the years.
I’m not sure I can ever move out of Southbank now. After moving around the world so much I think Southbank is my final destination. I like the proximity to everything that I need, and that it’s within walking distance of top quality gyms, cycling, and excellent sports facilities. Of course, there’s a bit of noise living here but I manage it.
My family all now live in Southbank too, in apartments which are within five minutes of each other. They have come along to a few of the meet ups which is great as it forces them to speak English.
I’m a software engineer in my day job and we’re naturally good problem solvers. So, I think I’ve learned a lot from doing these meet ups and see it as personal growth. Who knows, maybe it will become an occupation or side hustle one day.
If someone was thinking of coming along to one of my meet ups, I would say this: Welcome friend, we are going to explore what Southbank and surrounds has to offer in a safe and positive environment. Join us!"
How to join
Follow Southbank Socials on Meetup.