Customer in the Spotlight: Alison Weber
Alison’s family had a dairy farm in Toora and before she came to Melbourne as a boarder, she would travel to nearby Foster for school. In 1980, after responding to a classified advertisement, Alison went to Japan for 12 months as part of the Rotary International Exchange Program and embarked on the trip that “completely changed my life”. Thanks to the Rotary Club, prior to leaving she was provided with a two- week Japanese crash course and was set up to stay with six host families. “For a kid from the country, it was a mind-blowing experience.”
Once back in Australia, Alison enrolled and boarded at MLC for her final year of high school as there were Japanese classes on offer. This would be her “first experience of Glenferrie”. Although not frequenting the shopping strip often at the time, she remembers enjoying walks around the surrounding residential area and being amazed by all the beautiful homes and gardens.
Accepted into Australian National University with a scholarship, Alison moved to Canberra and completed a Bachelor of Law and Economics, taking Japanese classes within her degree. It was during her undergraduate studies that she met her husband, Mark. She worked as a commercial lawyer for five years in Canberra before their first child was born and Alison changed her focus to raising a family.
In 2000, the law firm Mark worked for in Canberra asked him to relocate with his family to work in Melbourne for three years. The only area Alison was familiar with was Hawthorn and with St Joseph’s Primary School on Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn provided a good location for Mark, Alison and their four children to settle.
What was meant to be three years in Melbourne turned into a permanent move and the family has now lived in Canterbury for 19 years. When they first relocated, it did not take Alison long to become involved in the children’s school and the local parish at the Immaculate Conception Church, corner of Glenferrie and Burwood Roads. Since she was not working, she liked to “be social and involved”. Alison went on to run and organise the parish stall at the Xavier College Maytime Fair for almost 10 years. She loved running the cooking day for the fair as it allowed her and many others to “meet a lot of people you might not normally meet”.
Despite living in Canterbury, Alison still frequents Glenferrie Hawthorn regularly to read at or attend church services, and is part of the church craft group. In terms of retail and recreation, she comments that “I don’t need to come but I still find reasons to” such as; films at Lido Cinemas, exercise at Grace Park Hawthorn Club, exhibitions at the Hawthorn Arts Centre, wine from Red, White & Amber, bike services at Lawrencia Cycles, food shopping at Glenferrie Gourmet Meats and The Leaf Store where they stock “unusual ingredients”, specialty stores Readings and Haigh's Chocolates, and eating out at Izakaya Jiro and Lulo. “If I meet a friend, it’s often at Glenferrie Road,” going to coffee shops like Liar Liar and Supernova.
Now that her children are grown up, Alison has been able to change her focus from raising a family to working on her own business, Kumano Camino. Formed with long-time friend Carolyn in 2015, together they organise and run pilgrimage walks in Japan twice a year, “It’s a hobby/business”.
The tours first began with friends and family and now spread by word-of-mouth, many Glenferrie locals have joined in over the years. Since COVID-19 has put a stop to international travel, Alison’s trips to Japan have been put on hold but she is taking the time to study Japanese again and research other trips. She continues to keep busy these days with family life, friends, and community activities.