Disposable: Lockdown Melbourne


In September, photographer Jack Gruber was, like everyone in Melbourne, suffering through stage 4 lockdown. The restrictions have been lifted for the city now, but at the time it was gnarly, and we asked Jack to get some snaps during one of his daily one-hour outings. 

Words and photos: Jack Gruber

Everybody told me moving from Canberra to Melbourne would be a life changer and, oh boy, were they right.

I’m currently in my fourth week of stage 4 lockdown: mandatory mask-wearing (which is fine, get over it, people), one visit to the shops per day, 8 pm—5 am curfew, and one hour of exercise a day within a five-kilometre radius of your house. Things are pretty weird when you think about it. The precious one-hour exercise time is the high point of everyone’s day, whether it’s sunny or pissing down rain. I decided to cruise the streets of Brunswick and Fitzroy—my neck of the woods—with a disposable camera to capture what people were getting up to. Good to see most folks getting creative with the time they have in ‘freedom’. PS: Shoot me down I was a tad over an hour with a piss break and a cheeky breather in the gardens…

Finally, some graffiti that makes sense. As Flag once said, ‘Spray paint the waaaalls!’

This 7ft giant ripped me down Sydney Rd on his electric board… He’s either being chased by the uniformed military officers that patrol Melbourne, or he’s late to pick up his Good Times $9 pasta.

A week or so ago, a homeless man told me he was fined $250 for not having a mask, so I gave him a spare and ended up buying him a meat pie. Later that day, they erected a statue of me in the act… It’s true about the pie and mask though.

Now, this a tough one. Sure, U2 hasn’t done anything good in a while… a long while. But to be discarded not in, but under a bin? Probably fair.

The first week or so of lockdown saw some locals still tearing Fitzy bowl a new one. Now it’s sad scenes across the city as parks are fenced off! Soon enough, I’ll get to cut a lap around this beauty.

’Wake Me Up When September Ends’ or ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ would be top picks when guessing what this legend was belting out in front of the fenced-off Fitzroy Bowl. However, he was smacking riffs and metal screaming for the handful of mums and scooter kids in attendance.

Old mate giving the quick once over after a very sketchy push across the street.

Couple boys, couple beers, one built-in esky bike. Genius, I say! Constant ‘exercise,’ great disguise/getaway from the military, and constantly cold beer.

No lock, no worries.

I followed this dude for a few blocks to figure out what was going on, and nothing told me he’s innocent of stealing a poor kid’s bike. ‘Someone stole my pushbike and I want it back.’

If this was my 1998 gunmetal grey Nissan Pulsar, there would be some serious issues! Lucky for me it wasn’t, and it made for a good photo.

Well, shit. Is there or isn’t there? ‘Cause I’m not buying this scrap Land Rover if there’s a deadly snake onboard. BEWARE: loose Brown Snake off Glenlyon Rd, Brunswick. $350 reward.

Creative juices flowing after six weeks of lockdown.

@covid19 for the extensive shit you’ve put on us, @monsterchildren for not publishing this in the next print mag, @thatdudeinthecamry who beeped at me.

Any size 10 Docs, 32×30 Dickies, size large original 1960’s Sabbath tour shirt, or Epokhe Dylans left??

Sunny Saturday at the oval is as close to a music festival as you will get at the moment. Music pumping, dance moves sharp and outfits ready for the Gram. Next photo shows old mate three houses down in a serious stare off, thinking ‘what the fuck is going on’ behind the security of his lemon tree.

Neglected rig. This baby blue beauty needs some loving. Next COVID lockdown project?

Anyone dreaming of sitting at The Retreat beer garden and watching one of the hundreds of amazing bands Melbourne has? Forget it. The nature strip is your only hope. The new norm right here!

Hooking up in COVID lockdown is a real hassle. Seriously. Treasure whatever happens in that one hour on the park bench.

Melbourne Cemetery fun fact: There is an Elvis Presley Memorial which was erected in 1977 by the Elvis Presley fan club president. The only one of its kind in Australia. This photo doesn’t show the memorial as I couldn’t find it and my hour was running out.

Now with only a few photos left and roughly an hour of riding around the streets, I was ready to throw in the towel and question why the hell I was doing this. Then the holy grail of findings: a ‘Boys Next Door’ concert free of charge. These two legends were playing the violin together as passers stopped to take it in for a second. The morale booster everyone needs in times like these. A few people even cracked a bottle of red and took in the blissful scenes.

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