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

Sarah, Collingwood

“I’m here to learn English because I need it back home in Colombia, and it’s cheaper to learn a language in a new country than to study it in a school. When I can speak and write well in English, I can study back home. But it’s hard to speak to people around here. When I’m working, people don’t speak to me a lot. They just take their food, say thank you, and that’s all. And I’m working a lot because we need the money. There’s very little time to go out to speak to people.”

Photography by Ruwanthi Wijetunga

Faces of Yarra

Jules, Collingwood

“I’m just meeting a friend of mine for lunch, we haven’t seen each other in a while. We used to make music together; he’s a writer and singer and I play, mostly bass and electric guitar. We’ve had gigs all over the place, you know, Melbourne’s a pretty artistic city. It’s not like Brisbane or Sydney where everything’s a lot more straight. Like artists in Sydney do it for the love, but in Melbourne – because the creative industry is more stable – you can easily do it for the money. I have so many friends in Melbourne who make art professionally or write and have other jobs. Sometimes you have to think there’s an advantage in having a less stable artistic industry because there’s more to rebel against, because nobody’s ‘gonna’ look down on you here for saying, ‘Oh, I wrote a song!’. They might in Sydney. Those artists have that shared sense of purpose in their work. And that purpose can be really powerful.”

Photograph by Ruwanthi Wijetunga

Faces of Yarra

Linda, Abbotsford

“I opened Maison de Linda salon around 4 months ago on Victoria street. I was studying French at school and I am deeply into this culture; the films, history, design and art. The place itself has a little bit of Parisian sophistication mixed with vintage. I wanted to establish a place on Victoria street that not only speaks of me, but also becomes ‘home’ for some of my customers, where they will feel comfortable, free, relaxed and ready for new beauty adventures. We are all aware of the way we look. Sometimes we have days we dislike ourselves and feel down. My job is to bring out the best in people, make them feel more confident and special.”

Photography by Alexandra Gorbunova

Faces of Yarra

Juliane, Carlton

“I came to Australia from Germany for something different. I finished studying and I didn’t want to work straight away, and I thought, for something different I would come here. It’s a nice area [Carlton], and I’ve been here for one and a half years now. I feel different about going back home all the time, one day I want to stay and the next time I want to go home, because of the homesickness, you know. But the area is nice, we work around the corner, and so during our break there’s not enough time to go home. We laze around in the park while we wait for our next shift.”

Photo: Vanessa Orzlowski