Life stories of Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society members are being collected. I first joined PMHPS when I was signing up to be part of lots of different groups in Port Melbourne as part of my PhD project fieldwork on the social side of the suburb. Below is part of my contribution.
My earliest memories of Port Melbourne are sitting in the back seat of the car as we went through the area that is now Beacon Cove. Although I was born in Melbourne, for seven years I lived interstate with my nuclear family. At that time, all my grandparents lived in Melbourne, with those on my paternal side in one of Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs and those on my maternal side in one of Melbourne’s western suburbs.
When we came to Melbourne to visit, we generally traversed Port Melbourne as we travelled by car between the two ‘sides’. On these car trips, I saw the area change: roads were closed and constructed and the Beacon Cove estate was built around our modified route. This continued to be the favoured route to visit our maternal grandparents when my nuclear family ‘moved back’ and settled in the south east of Melbourne.
My family never referred to this area we travelled through as Beacon Cove but, rather, as Noddyville — a name with which one of my sister’s friends had furnished us, and one we will still use on occasion to describe a suggested route.
Sometimes researchers change the name and some identifying information about the places they study. But I always told people I was conducting research in Port Melbourne, and I do not use another name for the suburb when I write or talk about the place. I justify my decision on the basis of empirical rigour because if I tried to protect the identity of the suburb it would be more problematic to cite relevant publications, utilise census data or make explicit reference to public debates concerning the area.
Usually people in, or who identify with, Port Melbourne seem pleased that I am writing about ‘their’ suburb. Port Melbourne is an interesting place and a lot has been written about it. My work is just one more voice.