My Place: Nick Gadd

Yarraville writer and psychogeographer Nick Gadd. Photo by Pat Scala/Fairfax Media

Writer and psychogeographer Nick Gadd has spent years walking around Melbourne, but the inner-west remains dearest to his heart. He talks with Benjamin Millar


What is your connection with Yarraville?

We moved to Yarraville more than 20 years ago and have never wanted to live anywhere else.


What do you love most about living here?

I love the layers of history in the inner west, especially industrial history.

It’s evident in the old factories, the architecture, the signage and the land itself.

I regret the fact that we sometimes destroy things thoughtlessly.

A lovely old Ecks lemonade sign on Somerville Road, Yarraville, got painted over just a few weeks ago … one of the last in Melbourne – gone.


Do you have a favourite local place or places?

The signage on the former tailor’s shop on Somerville Road; the former coffee palace in Yarraville; the Beehive building on Melbourne Road, Williamstown.

And the view of the docks and container yards on Coode Island at dawn is stunning.


How did you develop your interest in psychogeography, what keeps you interested?

I’d been interested in ghost signs, history and architecture for some time, but Tony Birch introduced me to psychogeography while I was studying at Melbourne uni.

I wander the suburbs, looking out for traces of the past and researching what lies behind them.

It’s an endless fascination … the smallest thing can lead to a story.


What were the most surprising finds of your Melbourne Circle journey?

The story of the greyhound racing track of Sunshine with its monkey jockeys was amazing … I would love to hear from anyone who remembers it. I was surprised to find that the shabby building on Paisley Street, Footscray, with crumbling Fiesta Bingo signage was a popular cinema – the Grand – until the 1980s. And I was delighted when I managed to decipher the faded name of the Williamstown and Newport Underclothing Depot, a Victorian shop on Melbourne Road.


How has the project changed the way you think about Melbourne and the inner-west?

I’ve become aware of the richness of ordinary suburban streets. I knew the inner west had a proud industrial and cultural history, but I hadn’t investigated it in depth until I started exploring on foot. Knowing the history of a place gives you a stronger connection to it.


Do you have any writing projects underway?

I’m working on a book about walking and psychogeography in Melbourne.


Retrace Nick Gadd’s circumnavigation of Melbourne on foot through his online project. Details at