Looking beyond the pandemic
By Farah Hassim, NewQuay resident
As a change in our lives we did not anticipate, the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown has placed restrictions on our everyday activities.
I asked a few residents of NewQuay what they would do when the restrictions were lifted. I also asked them what earmarked changes they were most looking forward to.
Working at home has advantages, no doubt, but one resident said, “Probably the most important is being able to go back to work. I work from home, personal interaction with people on a daily basis is critically important.”
For many residents, the simple pleasures of times of old were what was wanted: “It would be nice to see the community back, enjoying cafeÌs, restaurants and the atmosphere of community and tourists.”
This resident, like many of the NewQuay locals, would like to see the restaurants re- opening, having dinner out. Adeana and Aye said, “When restrictions are lifted, we are most looking forward to slurping on a big bowl of ramen!”
Locals said they want to see residents being able to be out and about. Other residents were looking forward to the return of the Sunday Markets or going to the casino.
For others, reconnecting with family is a theme. Shruthi, an international student and local resident said, “Before all this happened I was planning on going to India to see my family – but I couldn’t. I am really looking forward to seeing my family when the lock-down restrictions are eased.” Another resi- dent, Margaret, said, “The things I am most looking forward to when the restrictions are lifted is to spend time with family and friends, hug my grandchildren, go to the movies, visit the Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria, watching live theatre and to again sit down and enjoy a meal at the many wonderful restaurants around the Docklands. Simply, a return to normality is what I will like the most.”
While residents valued their time spent with family members, there was an opportunity for a return to normality and breathing space. NewQuay local Monique quipped, “The things I am most looking forward to are ones I took for granted prior to this experience. Sharing a cocktail and a meal outside of my apartment, inviting friends over for a barbecue and even just window shopping. I’ll be excited just to get back to some normality and oh my god, having some time away from my brother, ha ha!”
In response to a question of future developments in NewQuay, many residents were looking forward to the completion of the Marriot Hotel and for the decision-making and planning finalisation for Central Pier. Adeana and Aye said, “We are looking forward to the full occupancy of shops in the expanded part of The District – hopefully this and other new developments will bring some more vibrancy to the area.” Residents were also curious about the progress of the previously touted water feature or laser fountain. A NewQuay local said, “I am looking forward to the water feature show which was briefly seen on the news. It would be nice to see the crowd come to Docklands.”
A local resident was hoping for more vibran- cy in the area post COVID-19: “Hopefully new businesses such as yoga studios and more family- and pet-friendly amenities such as a greater variety of restaurants will come to the area. A return to an even more lively Docklands than before the lockdown will be a sign of things truly turning around. We are also keen to see how the wharf will be redeveloped in the near future.”
Another NewQuay local said, “being serious for a moment, as an architect I have many critical issues with how the council and planning department is dealing with Docklands, in par- ticular NewQuay. Having said that, with more outdoor social spaces, the council needs to provide more events to get people here. Having Firelight Festival is great, but more needs to be done to make the area a permanent attraction, they cannot rely on MAB, LendLease and other private developers to foot the bill because, as we have seen, they won’t. Hopefully more ho- tels will help reduce the number of AirBnB in apartments and hopefully attract a better type of person. We had someone trying to break into our apartment just a few weeks ago while we were watching TV at midnight, giving the excuse they were confused about which floor they were on ...”
Monique reminds us that in future times, when we look back, we should be pleased: “The developments I’d most love to see come to NewQuay are those that have been mooted for some time. For example, the AFL moving operations, and creating a precinct at the Ron Barassi Snr Park and seeing that void filled between the end of NewQuay Promenade and the Park. I think when we look back on the Docklands in 2030 and see those kinds of devel- opments and this water-based precinct being a centre of attention, we’ll be proud to have been the early adopters of the suburb we love”.