By Fiona Taylor

    I had seldom given much thought to the western suburbs. Apart from my father’s stories of growing up in Footscray, the west was largely uncharted territory in my life. Little did I know that a chance encounter would introduce me to a world of vibrant diversity, warmth, and endless charm.

    The West, as I affectionately came to call it, opened up my previously insular existence to a tapestry of experiences and emotions that I had never imagined. From the smiling faces of neighbours and passersby who’d stop to exchange greetings, to the lively ambiance of local cafes and restaurants thoughtfully curating their menus to cater to the desires of their patrons, the West had a magical way of beckoning me closer.

    One of the first things that struck me was the West’s gentle transition between seasons. Each change brought a unique allure, with warm summer nights and soothing sea breezes leaving an indelible mark on my soul. 

    The streets of the West whispered stories of hard work and promises, etched into the weathered facades of its buildings and houses. The remnants of telephone eras, long gone but still bearing witness to the area’s rich history, reminded me of the resilience of this community.

    I discovered that you could indeed feel the seasons change, not just in the weather but in the kindness of strangers reawakening after a long, cold winter. The vibrant street art adorning walls and alleyways challenged my notion of what constituted art, sparking my creativity and curiosity.

    The tantalising scent of freshly baked bread from neighbourhood bakeries would tempt even the most resolute passerby, while the sight of delectable pastries would conspire to shatter the strongest willpower.Weekends were a joy in the West, with the freedom to choose between brunching with friends at cosy local cafes, exploring artisan markets, relaxing at the beach, or enjoying the camaraderie of the local dog park. My favourite culinary indulgence was a ‘bowl of love,’ as I affectionately called it, a piping hot bowl of pho from a nearby restaurant.

    The West’s nightlife was a revelation, offering an eclectic mix of experiences, from trivia nights and drag-Queen bingo to casual gatherings with friends or lively evenings at the pub. And in between, I found solace in quiet moments with a book beneath the magnificent trees of the botanical gardens, listening to the laughter of children and the distant sounds of a sporting match.

    The West’s sense of community was palpable, a shared pride not just in who they were but also in where they called home. It wasn’t just any neighbourhood; it was a unique blend of cultures and backgrounds that embraced diversity and celebrated it. 

    The friendly nature, kindness and their ability to light up a room made the West feel like home. It was an unrequited love affair that swept me off my feet, and I cherished every moment spent in this enchanting part of Melbourne.

    Now, as I reflect on those days, I can’t help but miss the West. Its beauty, its uniqueness, and the warmth of its people remain etched in my heart. The West wasn’t just a place; it was an experience, a love affair that I’ll forever hold dear.

    In the end, it wasn’t just the West that I missed; it was the feeling of being a part of something special, something bigger than myself. My love letter to the West is a testament to the enduring memories and the profound impact this vibrant community had on my life. 

    Our content is a labour of love, crafted by dedicated volunteers who are passionate about the west. We encourage submissions from our community, particularly stories about your own experiences, family history, local issues, your suburb, community events, local history, human interest stories, food, the arts, and environmental matters. Below are articles created by community contributors. You can find their names in the bylines.

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