By Baileigh Skinner
When asked what the heart of Yarraville is, I’m sure it is commonly thought to be the astounding Sun Theatre, the lush elm trees or perhaps the coffee culture. However, whilst they are all wonderful, there is one man who truly is the heart of Yarraville.
This man is Dimitri, who can often be referred to as the dapper gentleman who wonders the streets of Yarraville. Come rain, hail or shine, Dimitri is there dressed to impress, with his dazzling grey beard and well combed hair. Wearing his iconic yellow collar shirt, blue sweater vest and black leather jacket.
Sometimes you’ll find him parked on the many benches scattered throughout Yarraville. On the corner of Anderson and Ballarat street enjoying his weekly fish and chips, often offering a chip to friends that walk by. Or maybe under the elms behind Alfa bakehouse, watching people go by while enjoying his daily coffee and waving at the regulars he recognises.
If you don’t see him sitting on a bench somewhere in Yarraville, then chances are he’s strolling down one of the many streets. Hands behind his back, politely saying hello to passing travellers on their way to work or the grocery store.
Yarraville has now been my home for almost 20 years, and when I was little, I would often watch my dad wave to the old man who walked around Yarraville. I never understood why, I thought maybe they were friends or an acquaintance of sorts. But as I’ve grown older, it’s clear Dimitri is everyone’s friend.
For the past 3 years now, I have been fortunate enough to be considered a friend of Dimitris. Waving every day, stopping to ask how his day is and how he is feeling. Always answered with the same response “good good”. But I’ve always felt bad, because I’m either rushing to get somewhere or too wrapped up in my own world to just sit and stop with him for a while. Today though, I finally decided to sit and get to know a little bit about Dimitri.
Dimitri has lived in Yarraville for 43 years since coming from Greece, and he couldn’t be prouder to call it his home. I asked him how his day was going, and he said “wonderful, no trouble just peace”. Then continuing to express how he thinks that the people of Yarraville are wonderful and friendly, with a tremendous smile. I then said to him that it’s about to rain and he should probably get undercover, but he simply pointed to the sky, shrugged and implied that’s life and it’s beautiful. Which is definitely the most valuable lesson we can all learn from Dimitri. Accepting that some things in life are beyond our control, but they should not be viewed as an inconvenience.
Now back to the start of my paragraph, the heart of Yarraville. Whilst I personally, and I’m sure others think the same, it is Dimitri. However, I’m sure if you asked Dimitri the same question, he’d say the people of Yarraville. Which then leads me to my second point, if you’re ever in Yarraville or a local of the west area, do not be shy to say hi to Dimitri. I can assure you it will put a smile on your face, and even just make your day that bit brighter. As for Dimitri, I can also assure you he will never forget your face and consider you a friend.