Saturday, July 23, 2011

Who is the Dead Man?

In the early 1830s, this land was a swamp. A stain on the pristine bay.
In the 1840s, it was a muddy track between the fledgling commerce of Flinders Street and the regal mansions of South Yarra. A written off corner of an inviting, thriving port city. 
In the 1850s, boatloads of immigrants flooded into Melbourne seeking their fortune on the goldfields. Wide eyed dreamers and crooks on the lam, the desperate and the enterprising and the beaten, thrown together cheek by jowl into a hostile land.
Most of them never made it out of the city. Dreams of a quick fortune were no match for the grim reality of the goldfields and the Victorian bush. Desperate and homeless, they set down the only place there was land left.
Lost souls pegged out their plot and erected a tent in the swamp. Almost overnight sprang up a sprawling, ramshackle suburb of canvas and mud. It stank of death and despair. They called it Canvas Town.
It was harsh. It was brutal. Yet there was a strange pride in the people of Canvas Town – despite all the odds, life hadn’t beaten them. Not completely. At the end of the world these settlers had made something out of nothing.
By the late-1850s, Canvas Town had been cleaned up. Streets started taking shape, land was divided and sold, and settlers built cottages and terraces.
But for a few brief years, South Melbourne was known by a different name – a roughshod graveyard of broken dreams, hopeless days and desperate measures.

Dead Man Espresso sits on what was once the heart of Canvas Town. Like those early settlers, we're damn proud of our little plot of Melbourne. We believe in building something.
We use what we can from nearby – local suppliers Warialda Beef, Istra Smallgoods and Hook & Spoon Mutton; herbs from the garden on the roof; seasonal Victorian produce, honey from our rooftop beehive.
And the coffee? Using the best beans from the best roasters around is a luxury the founding ancestors couldn't have dreamed of. But we think they would have approved...