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Hispanic Johnston Street

everal members of the Parer family (forebears of the aviator
Raymond Parer and the photographer Damien Parer) were
among the small number of Spanish migrants living in colonial Fitz-
roy. Eight members of this family of thirteen children left their village
near Barcelona to settle in Australia. Three brothers opened highly
successful restaurants in Bourke Street in the gold rush years, the
Spanish Restaurant and the Duke de la Victoria, followed later by the
spectacular Nissen's Cafe with its multitude of mirrors. The Parers left
their mark on Fitzroy's domestic architecture. Between 1881 and 1892
they built not only the seven grand houses of Barcelona Terrace in
Brunswick Street, but also Madrid Villas in Princes Street, near Vic-
toria Parade (where Estevan Parer died in 1911), a terrace that was
demolished in the mid 1950s to make way for an extension to St
Vincent's Hospital. The Parers also owned Rosephil Terrace in Fitz-
roy Street, which (as if to make amends) the hospital substantially
restored in 1987.

After World War II the numbers of residents of Spanish origin living
in Fitzroy were swelled by government-assisted migration in the early
1960s, and it was not long before the western end of Johnston Street
became the Spanish Quarter. Not all Spanish people found Melbourne
suburban life congenial. One man who in 1978 decided to return to
Spain with his family after an absence of fourteen years and who was


At the 1984 Spanish Fiesta in
Johnston Street, a Peruvian
wears a
chuyos, the traditional
woollen cap designed for
protection from the cold winds
of the A ndes. (Photo Peter
Weaving, Melbourne Times)