Evolution: Wonderland for the light-hearted

IT'S official. Summer is on its way. How do I know (apart from the fact it’s nearly November)? Because I can’t step outside my front door without being bowled over by heavily panting joggers new to the sport and to their shiny white trainers. Parks and beach foreshores have been overtaken by groups of red-faced, bendy-stretchy people determined to look smokin’ hot for the binge drinking season. And inside gyms, weedy guys are pumping iron with the strength of an ant praying for guns like Schwarzenegger. Keep lifting, boys.

The biggest indicator of seasonal change is the migration of hip young things from cosy dark bars to bright open spaces. 

Last Sunday evening the gust of chilly wind couldn’t keep the hipsters and their tobacco pouches away from Chuckle Park. Not surprising. This gorgeous cul-de-sac doubles as the entrance to New Guernica, but from Thursday to Sunday is transformed into a wonderland for the light-hearted. 

Wedged in a weatherboard alley with synthetic grass, dozens of jars dangle overhead harbouring greenery and fairy lights, and a collection of canvas chairs and wooden tables brings on childhood nostalgia. Parked at the rear is an old-school silver caravan from where beer in cans, vino and hard liquor are served alongside rich, flavoursome paella. Pork, chicken and chorizo, say, or go highfalutin with a serious cheese platter accompanied by tart quince. 

As night falls, Chuckle Park really comes into its own. Far more laid-back than its bigger brother New Guernica, Chuckle Park attracts like-minded folk – the type that tend not to be spotted at boot camp at 5am but rather languidly putting in the laps at the Fitzroy pool at midday. 

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