Monday, November 5, 2012

Guest Author Luke Preston

Melbourne doesn’t have anything to match the drop-dead-spectacular beauty of Sydney.

But I’ve always remembered it, from the time I spent in Oz, as an attractive city of genteel people possessed of the best restaurants in all of Australia.

It has also topped, more than once, the list of  Best Places In The World To Live.

I was somewhat surprised, therefore, to read the portrait Luke Preston painted in his new book, Dark City Blue. Has the place changed so much in the years that I’ve been away? Or did Melbourne always have an evil side that I never knew?

Either way, I’m sure the city fathers won’t be thanking Luke for this book. But many readers will.
Dark City Blue is a gritty, dark crime novel that people who like gritty, dark crime novels are sure to love.
And it’s a steal, for only a little over three dollars. (American, not Australian) Unfortunately, it’s only available, at the moment, in a Kindle format:

Today, the author is going to tell the drinkers among us how they can take a walk on the wild side in his home town.

Leighton – Monday


Melbourne is a city that likes to drink. Beer, wine, spirits, motor oil, it doesn’t matter. If it’s going to get you tanked, a Melbournian will drink it. It’s a city with bars hidden down dingy back alleyways, in abandoned warehouses, vacant car lots and in the converted living rooms of people’s houses. Essentially, if you have three milk crates and a room in Melbourne, you have yourself a bar. But there are some places, that no matter how pretty the bartender or loud the music, that first step inside may be your last.

68 Cecil Street South Melbourne

In the world of bars, pubs and nightclubs, Kittens is the one place that just should not exist but has somehow, through some moral loophole exploited by the devil himself, survived. It’s the bottom of the barrel of strip clubs in a city with more than its fair share. Any rule that has the guts to step foot in the place is thrown out the window. The carpets are sticky, the music loud, the drinks cheap and ugly and so are the women.

The main threat of Kittens doesn’t come from the poisonous booze or the tattooed bouncers, but the punters who walk through the door and think that spraying the roof with gunfire should be part of the night’s entertainment. For some reason that I haven’t yet figured out, this happens on a regular basis and twenty minutes after it does, the girls all bail for the night and the joint resembles a gay night club, but without any of the class.

MAIN THREAT: Gun shots & STDs

Cnr Swanston and Flinders Sts

The Young & Jackson Hotel, at the heart of the city, has existed under one name or another, since 1861. It’s played host to travelers and locals, beggars and celebrities and has witnessed the world change over the years through newspapers, widescreen televisions and bar-room gossip.

During the day, the hotel is a museum-like piece of architecture and design but by 2AM, the old war horse of a pub reverts back its good old fashioned street violence days. Drunks, young and old, plague the front bar mouthing off, starting trouble and looking for any excuse to get into the thick of it. Fights will erupt for no reason whatsoever and if there ever was a reason, nobody could remember it in the haze of the hangover the next morning.

MAIN THREAT: Being hit from behind

2 Releigh Road Maribynong

The Anglers Tavern sits along the Maribynong on the edge of the city and is the first port of call for all those who live out in the suburbs where good drinking holes are few and far between or altogether non-existent. Monday through to Friday, The Anglers Tavern is a nice waterside venue where the food is reasonably priced and the water setting calming. But even on those relaxing days in the sun, the horrors of the weekend are present on the blood stained concrete and the stale smell of vodka Red Bull in the air. Unlike most other bars, the violence doesn’t explode in the late night mayhem but in the traditional Sunday afternoon, booze soaked sessions. By five, the joint is packed with hundreds of people, all hammered and creating an environment more volatile than the Greek economy. Brawls break out regularly for no reason that anyone can remember and if they could, probably wouldn’t understand. So if you find yourself at The Anglers Tavern late into a Sunday afternoon, keep your eyes on the floor and if you can’t do that, you better be prepared to get your knuckles bloody.

MAIN THREAT: Riots, bashings and bad music.

THE CARLTON HOTEL (circa 2007)
The retro entry
193 Bourke Street

The Carlton Hotel was a joint you could go to after you had been kicked out of all the others... and they would take you. The entrance was nothing more than a hole in the wall that led up to the second floor where punters from all walks of life could shoot pool, listen to the juke box trapped in 1987, and drink themselves to sleep (as long as the snoring didn’t bother anyone). If you could get over the smell of the urinal, which few people could because it engulfed the entire bar, then you could sit back and enjoy a Carlton Draft at eight in the morning. If you were in the mood you could do a spot of shopping from the two-bit crims who would pass in and out like a mobile shopping service with stolen tee shirts, DVDs and whatever else they pilfered from the night. The old Carlton Hotel (because sadly it has been refurbished) was dangerous not in a physical sense, but it was your soul that took the hit. If you found yourself in there between the hours of 7 AM and 10 AM you weren’t visiting, you were home.

MAIN THREAT: A broken heart

The bars of Melbourne can provide the locations that play backdrop for those cherished memories that make up the history of your life. They can be places where the best times of your life are spent, where you fall in love or simply just the place where you discover your favourite drink. But if you’re not careful, they can fill your mind with horrific memories that your soul will never forgive. So if you’re out and about in Melbourne, having a few drinks, having a few laughs, just keep your wits about you, your mind sharp and occasionally throw a look over your shoulder -- because you never know what might be coming when you’re not looking.


  1. Luke, Luke, you're not supposed to let on! We're NAICE here in Melbun! We hide our mean streets, and here you go blabbing about them! I don't know, anyone would think you were a crime writer...
    It's easy to forget, when dining at the Windsor or clopping around the Domain in a horse and cart, that Melbourne is essentially a port city and still retains some of that in places.

  2. My own local, the Edinburgh Castle in Brunswick, used to be the first stop for those recently released from the old Pentridge Prison. I remember playing pool there in the early-1990s. When my pool partner put 'Jailbreak' on the jukebox, an old timer with prison tatts and no teeth shouted, 'Who put this on?' When my pool partner bravely raised his hand, the old timer clapped him on the back and said, 'Maaaaaate.'

  3. I now understand where the Aussies learned how to party on Mykonos:)

  4. I can not say is why. However, an important letter.