I live in Frankston and we’re not bogans – get over it

I live in Frankston and we’re not bogans – get over it

February 17, 2023

I was in a shop in Prahran the other day, having a delightful chat with the shopkeeper when he said: “Are you from the country?”

“Almost,” I said. “I’m from Frankston.”

Frankston has long had a reputation as the home of bogans and hoons. Credit:Paul Jeffers

As I left, I adjusted the straw in my teeth, picked up my banjo and went on my way.

If you’d told my 17-year-old self that, by the time she was 40, she’d live in Frankston, she wouldn’t have believed you. She’d have rolled her eyes, blown some cigarette smoke in your general direction and said, “yeah right”.

I grew up in Melbourne’s middle class in the ’70s and ’80s, and some of the things I was taught to value included white bread, church on Sundays and the astounding reliability of Amway products. You bet I rebelled. But something that’s remained stuck in my mindset is that it matters where you live.

I’ve known Melburnians who care whether people live on the wrong side of the river, the wrong side of the highway and even the wrong side of a creek.

We’ve all known real estate agents who crank up the price because of proximity to a certain road, landmark or piece of geography, rubbing their hands with glee.

And we’ve all held our breath while driving past Werribee, or held our keys tightly in our hands as we walk to our car in St Kilda at night. We know the hidden gems (how nice is Yarraville?) and where there’s heaps of character (some of the nicest people I’ve ever met live in Reservoir). Footscray is growing as if it’s a stand-alone humming metropolis, as is Victoria Street in Richmond, and visiting leafy Olinda is like stepping back in time.

You don’t have to go far in this city to find racial clusters or divides, pockets of disadvantage and pockets of extreme wealth – sometimes not even that far from each other. But many of these concepts are stereotypes, and it’s time we ’fess up to the fact that the Melbourne we know and love carries suburb stigma like emotional baggage left over from an earlier, snobbier time.

For example, Frankston automatically conjures up images of bogans, moccasins, panel vans and slabs of VB.

My friend, Louise, reckons her mum came up with the name “Frankston South”. Mrs Braybrook did not like the Frankston label, so in the ’70s she had return-to-sender labels made saying Frankston South long before it became the official suburb name. Louise asked her why she didn’t go with “Mt Eliza North” and got a glare in reply.

I’d much rather call it Frankston and be done with it. But embracing my bogan pride is a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of thing. For example, when my kids were little, just for fun we called our town Franga and when I took them to the roller-skating rink in Carrum Downs, we’d fang it down the Franga-Danga Road. But then I heard one of the kids telling a new acquaintance, without the slightest trace of irony, that we lived in Franga and I realised we’d traversed a bridge too far.

My Aunty Shirl lived in Franga for a big chunk of her life and, in my humble opinion, there never was a better advertisement for the worth of a suburb. That woman’s kindness knew no bounds, her wisdom was deep and her humour profound. If she’d have caught you whingeing about where you lived, she’d have given you a clip around the ears and told you get on with what matters in life.

I know plenty of kids who’ve grown up here who haven’t turned into criminals or crack heads, including my own. At least, not yet. One young man was going to get his tongue pierced and called his mum on the way because he thought he’d left the iron on. This emo sweetheart wore a freshly pressed T-shirt for his expedition to the piercing parlour.

And don’t forget, we’ve known glamour here. Ava Gardner and Gregory Peck came to Frankston all those years ago to film On the Beach. But Gardner purportedly said: “On the Beach is a story about the end of the world, and Melbourne sure is the right place to film it.”


Frankston has welcomed 10,000 more people in the past decade. I’m proud to be part of this growth. I’m grateful to live on the lands of the Bunurong people, walk along the foreshore, take in the view from Oliver’s Hill and visit my favourite cafes in Foot Street and Norman Avenue. The George Pentland Botanical Gardens are a pretty respite from the rat race and the whole peninsula feels like it’s an extension of our backyard.

If you live here, too, I think you know what I mean. And if you haven’t been here for a while, you’re welcome to visit us down here at the end of the Earth.

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