We Are Yarra

Wren, Abbotsford

“I think more restaurants need vegan options, it just makes sense. That way shops would get more business and more people would be able to participate in Melbourne’s foodie culture. I mean, Melbourne’s already pretty good when it comes to vegan options, better than Brisbane definitely. At least, if you walk into a restaurant [in Melbourne] they can make stuff vegan for you on request, and they understand what you mean when you say ‘vegan’. And the food being made vegan doesn’t compromise on its quality. In Brisbane, there’s not as much creativity when it comes to vegan food – it’s all just salads. People are quick to assume that vegan food is just generally bland, but it’s nice to see that that assumption is being challenged here. People are giving veganism a go, and that’s really refreshing to see.”

We Are Yarra

Kevin, Collingwood

“I know a lot of restaurants, but I never eat at any of them. There’s only one place, Toto’s on Lygon Street. It’s an Italian restaurant, but they serve food from a lot of countries, so I always go there for my meals between deliveries. This is not my lunch though! This is my breakfast. It’s late, yes. Today has been a very busy day. Saturdays – everybody’s ordering food on Saturday.”

Photograph by Ruwanthi Wijetunga

We Are Yarra

Lisa Currie, North Carlton

“I went to the marriage equality rally with my mum. She’s always been pretty open-minded.  She’s been finding out more about the movement and equality, and she’s really getting into it now. We’ve been having some really great conversations about things lately. I was curious, so the other day I asked her if she gave my brother a talk about consent, like she had given me a talk on safety and sexual assault. She said “no” because she didn’t think she’d need to. She didn’t assume her son was going to hurt anybody. Nobody wants to assume that of anybody.”

Photography by Ruwanthi Wijetunga

Faces of Yarra

Clair, Burnley Gardens

“It is a beautiful day today. Actually, I came out here to mark all these notes because I decided it’s too gorgeous out to be sitting in my office. But this is a pretty gorgeous green space year-round too. It’s always lovely to sit here and watch the birds mucking around. A lot of people think so too, it seems. Lots of people who work around here are out here eating their lunch every day. People come out here on weekends too, but if you work here I’m sure you’re not around if you can help it!”

Photograph by Ruwanthi Wijetunga

Faces of Yarra

Wayne, Fitzroy

“I grew up in Tasmania and moved to Melbourne when I was in my early twenties. I came here never having had my hair cut in a shop, never having bought food at the supermarket; we cured our own meats… I came here to study fine arts and ended up getting into massage, which was a good field for me. I liked getting to work with my hands and having that opportunity to physically connect with people… A lot of people in this city put a wall up between themselves and other people, but that’s what happens in cities. I’ve seen a lot in my fifty years though, lived with a lot of people: the Bedouin in the Middle East, Native Americans in Canada and Central America, the Maoris in New Zealand. The values in tribal living, community living, are so much more inclusive than cities. Everywhere I went, I was accepted as one of their own. It was pure trust and openness, acceptance. You don’t see that here.”

Photography by Ruwanthi Wijetunga

Faces of Yarra

Grant Alexander McCracken, Fitzroy

“B (runswick) Street should be car free, because all of the mayhem comes from cars. And this is a line from my B Street poem; ‘They were all late for their lattes. They were all in a hurry to get nowhere fast.’ They create mayhem these cars, so I reckon if it’s a car free zone from Alexander Parade to Johnson street or Victoria Parade, and maybe put some turf down (for) their tables and chairs, some trees, potted plants, make it more pedestrian friendly. Then there wouldn’t be all the pollution. Car free B Street.”

Photo: Vanessa Orzlowski