A secret kept close
By David Schout
With lockdown measures easing across the state, Docklands is beginning to show shoots of life after an eerily quiet autumn.
Workers have begun returning, restaurants are re-opening their doors, and recently deserted streets are seeing a welcome return to the hustle and bustle.
But one local resident who won’t be springing back to normal life - much as she’d like to - is Mandy McCarter.
Mandy’s husband Shane has cystic fibrosis, meaning the couple have had to be extra careful during the pandemic.
The pair, who live at Victoria Point, have largely avoided interaction with people since mid-March, going out for walks when they can.
Importantly, both are travelling well but Mandy, a Docklands advocate through-and-through since moving to the area 18 months ago, light-heartedly admitted her Instagram page @adventuresindocklands was somewhat one-dimensional at present.
“There’s a lot of sunset shots from the balcony at the moment as I’m not out and about. It could be ‘adventures at home’,” she told Docklands News.
The account was set up as a way to both showcase local eateries and drink spots, and to avoid “spamming” friends and family with too many shots of her new suburb.
“There’s so many places tucked away in Docklands, so I thought as I found things it might be useful for someone else.”
Mandy’s newfound love for high-rise living, close to the water, is something conveyed by many new Docklands residents.
Many are conflicted whether to tell others of the benefits, or keep it close to their chest.
“I love it. I feel like I’m a cheerleader for Docklands. I sort of feel like it’s this secret that I don’t want anyone else to find out about. I liked Docklands when no one else seemed to like it. We’d always find ourselves coming in and having a meal here. I’m originally from Perth and there’s something about being near the water I connect with. I feel like we’re really spoilt having everything on our doorstep, being able to walk to everything.”
When Mandy and Shane moved to Docklands from the northern suburbs, the response from friends was “mixed”.
“But when they came here for a drink, for a meal, they couldn’t believe it. I think everyone has this perception of Docklands - if they haven’t spent much time here - from 10 or so years ago, when a lot of the infrastructure was up- and-coming. I still get asked all the time ‘where do you get your groceries?’ And I say ‘at one of the three supermarkets I can walk to’. A few friends from out in the suburbs have now said ‘just keep an eye out on the (real estate) market for me, if you see anything that’s good’.”
Naturally, each suburb is not without its issues, and Mandy said one of the biggest in Docklands was coincidently just below them.
“I think Central Pier has been a huge loss. We used to go to the Woolshed, the bakery; I just thought that was a real point of attraction, for people to be able to sit on the water. I think that situation has been a disaster and certainly hasn’t helped Docklands’ reputation.”
She hoped that whatever was done paid homage to the maritime heritage of the area.
Further, she observed that for the area to further attract visitors and foot traffic, cafes and restaurants particularly on the Victoria Harbour side would be seven-days-a-week operations rather than mostly serving the “Monday to Friday lunch crowd”.
Although that too was improving, she said.
Day to day, Mandy runs marketing and design studio Short Fuse, an operation started in 2001. Like many, the business has been impacted by COVID-19 but has managed to hold onto some key clients.
One of those is A-League soccer club Melbourne Victory, who play some of their home games at Marvel Stadium, something Mandy described as “very convenient”.
And while she’s looking forward to match days returning, sunset-viewing from the balcony will suffice for now.