"I moved to Adelaide from China when I was seven years old. What I remember about China is the community feel, everyone had bicycles and no one lived very far away from each other. So from early on I understood what gives people a sense of connection. I moved to Southbank in 2002 and was struck by all the big buildings. It’s easy to look at the buildings and feel overwhelmed so I chose a low-rise apartment with three floors.
There have been points while I’ve lived here where I haven’t owned a car and have used the local rental place if I ever needed to do things further out. It got to a point where they knew me by name and I got to try all sorts of different cars. But not having a car everyday was great – I saved money and relied on public transport. It just meant I had to plan more.
When I first moved to Southbank, I was working in the CBD in human resources and used to walk to work – the location was so convenient but I didn’t feel a strong connection to the place. During the 21 years I’ve owned my apartment I’ve spent stints living and working overseas. The last time I came back I considered moving to Collingwood. But it was during the pandemic and it just felt like too much change to move to a new community and start again. I realised I needed familiarity so decided to take a career break and become more connected to Southbank’s neighbourhood.
I have always been drawn to Boyd Community Hub and began to look at the noticeboard for clubs. I didn’t even realise Southbank Sustainability Group (SSG) existed until I saw it pinned on the board. I thought: I’m not good at gardening, having killed a cactus previously, so why not go along and see what I can learn. It’s amazing what you can learn if you put effort in – planting things and watching them grow. I learnt about when to plant, plant propagation, zero waste, and gardening for small spaces. There’s a real community spirit in the group around sharing ideas and knowledge.
When we meet we’ll often garden and socialise to chat about ideas and all sorts of things that impact the community. We’ve had dinners out with the group too.
As I started to meet more people I started to build a sense of community. I now know the other people in my block and what they do for work. I have friends in the building opposite mine and I walk my neighbours’ dog. I often go to Gordons for coffee and people always pass who I know. Really, once you get to know the area it has a village feel. Southbank is really a group of small sub regions or neighbourhoods.
For me, Southbank used to be a great place to walk to work from, now it’s more than that. I really enjoy living here and have a strong sense of connection. It’s safe to say that I’m not moving to Collingwood anymore."
Find out more
Southbank Sustainability Group (SSG) is a solutions-focussed community group of Southbank residents working to bring positive change in sustainability practices. If you’re interested in getting involved, send the group an email or come to one of the fortnightly meetups.
Learn more about City of Melbourne’s Gardens for Wildlife program.