Walk 126: Melbourne City Centre linear walk – we loved you!

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: Roughly 4 miles (6.43 km)

Time to walk: We can’t really give you a time limit as you’ll want to stop & explore – isn’t that what a city walk’s all about?

Difficulty: All on road & really easy

Parking: We were there on holiday & caught the tram system into the city

Public toilets: Bars, cafes etc around Melbourne

Map of the route: None but it’s a compact city to follow

Oh Melbourne…we rather like you because you’re quite sassy, but very laid back!

This was the first city we visited on our tour of Australia in 2019 & what beautiful city it is

The most populated city of Victoria & the second most in Australia. It has a population of approximately 5 million & its inhabitants are referred to as “Melburnians”. The city was founded on 30 August 1835 & was incorporated as a settlement in 1837, named in honour of the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. In 1851, four years after Queen Victoria declared it a city, Melbourne became the capital of the new colony of Victoria. In the wake of the 1850s Gold Rush, the city entered a lengthy boom period that, by the late 1880s, had transformed it into one of the world’s largest & wealthiest metropolises. After the federation of Australian in 1901, it served as interim seat of government until Canberra became the permanent capital in 1927

It’s home to some of the best of Australian sport etc so…shall we go & have a look?

Let’s Walk!

1. When you arrive in a city (even in the UK) do you look to see if there’s a Free Walking Tour? No…well you should, as they’re the best tours you can take, run by locals & you only pay for what it’s worth at the end – in the years we’ve been visiting cities across the world, they’ve always been amazing

So we caught the free Melbourne City circular tram & stayed on until the start of our walk outside the State Library of Victoria stop on Swanston Street. It was about 40 degrees that day, so perfect for a 2 hour stroll…

State Library Victoria was established in 1854 as the Melbourne Public Library, making it Australia’s oldest public library & one of the first free libraries in the world. The Library’s vast collection includes over two million books & 350,000 photographs, manuscripts, maps & newspapers, with a special focus on material from Victoria, including the diaries of the city’s founders, John Batman & John Pascoe Fawkner & the folios of Captain James Cook. It also houses some of the original armour of Ned Kelly, who we’ll pick up on later

2. Facing the Library we turn right & then right again along La Trobe Street – look up at the artwork creeping off the top of the building…

We’ve already recognised the metropolitan feel that this city has as we pass the city court

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3. At the corner, turn left along Lygon Street to arrive at one of Melbourne’s top tourist attractions…‘Old Melbourne Gaol’

The Old Melbourne Gaol was first constructed in 1839 & during its operation as a prison between 1842 & 1929, it held & executed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, including Ned Kelly. In total, 135 people were executed by hanging.

It formally ceased operating as a prison in 1924 with parts of the gaol being incorporated into a university & the rest becoming a museum. The three storey museum displays information & memorabilia of the prisoners & staff, including death masks of the executed criminals

4. Coming back out of the Gaol & turning left, ahead’s a podium with 888 written on it which commemorates the “8 Hours Movement” initiated in Victoria in 1856. The monument was originally unveiled in Spring Street in 1903

In 1924, it was moved to Russell & Victoria Streets & unveiled for the second time on February 13th 1924. The Eight Hours League campaigned for an eight hour day on the basis of eight hours work, eight hours for rest, & eight hours for recreation & education

5. Cross the road & walk down Victoria Street, which has some amazing old colonial buildings…

…&, at the end, turn left into the magnificent Carlton Gardens which is a World Heritage Site & contains the Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne Museum & an Imax cinema

The gardens are an example of Victorian design with sweeping lawns

We asked “Why do the trees have bands around them?” It’s all to do with the possums, to stop them climbing up & stripping the trees – they are a real problem in Oz & considered a pest…

6. One place we’d really wanted to visit was the museum as we’d heard it had an amazing exhibition about the Aboriginal people. So we headed past the Royal Exhibition building…

…to arrive at an incredible, modern building

7. The museum has a superb permanent exhibition called ‘Bunjilaka’ &, if you want to know how badly our ancestors treated the native Australians, then it’s a must. It’s not an exhibition to shy away from & one that everyone should see & be humbled…

The exhibition invites you to the many Countries of Aboriginal Victoria. Here you are also introduced to the diverse languages of the Aboriginal people. It’s amazing & you’re guided through by one interactive person…

8. We learnt how we deprived people of their land & welfare, often by just killing them…

There’s also a magnificent display of costumes & weapons…

As always, we’ll leave you to make your own mind up, but note how different the Maori tribes were treated & continue to be treated in New Zealand. If you visit, we hope it makes you feel as humbled as we were

9. Right…cut back across Carlton Garden & over the main road into Nicholson Street…

On the left’s the small, yet beautiful, Parliament Gardens Reserve…go in & spend a few peaceful moments looking around

Look across to the left to see the spires of St Patrick’s Cathedral. Although its length is marginally shorter than that of St Mary’s in Sydney, St Patrick’s has the distinction of being both the tallest &, overall, the largest church building in Australia

10. Walk to the left of the park. One of the garden’s main features is a memorial in bronze dedicated to two of Australia’s most prominent Indigenous leaders & traditional owners

The Memorial, titled “Dungula Wamayirr” (River People) is a tribute to Pastor Sir Douglas & Lady Gladys Nicholls, who turned the tide of history & injustice to progress the rights of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples

Pastor Sir Douglas Nicholls was also the first Aborigine to be Knighted

We have a long way to go…

11. Come back out of the park. Across the road’s one of Melbourne’s best know theatres, the Princess, where they’re staging the latest two Harry Potter plays

Slightly further on’s the Parliament of Victoria building…

12. Cross the road to walk down Bourke Street…

…& then sharp left along ‘Little Bourke’

13. Continue past the Chinese Museum & turn left along Lonsdale Street…

14. At the end, cross over into the shopping precinct area, which is a great place to sit, have a cuppa, & watch the world go by. Don’t forget to explore underground as well, where there’s several places to buy food

15. Ready to move on…then exit the centre on the other side & walk down Caledonian Lane, which Caledonian Lane is most notable as the former home to the St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

The St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, commonly referred to as ‘Laneway’, began here in 2005. Beginning as predominantly an indie music event, the festival grew in popularity & expanded to five Australian cities—Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide & Fremantle, as well as Auckland in New Zealand & Singapore

16. At the end turn right & cross Bourke Street to enter the Royal Arcade, which reminds us of the arcades in Cardiff…

The Royal Arcade opened in 1870 & is the oldest surviving arcade in Australia, known for its elegant light-filled interior, & the large carved mythic figures of Gog & Magog. Designed by Charles Webb, who won a competition in 1868, the arcade features a high glass roof & rows of arched windows to the storerooms above each shop. It was formally opened on 2 May, 1870

17. Come out of the arcade & cross Little Collins Street, maybe saying “Hello Possums” to one of Australia’s best known exports…

18. Now enter the ornate Block Arcade

Constructed between 1891 and 1893, it’s considered one of the Victorian era’s finest shopping arcades & ranks among Melbourne’s most popular tourist attractions. Designed by architect David C. Askew (well sorry, but I can’t take the credit for that!), the arcade takes inspiration from the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan & remains one of Melbourne’s most richly decorated interior spaces, with mosaic tiled flooring, glass canopy, wrought iron carved stone finishings

The arcade was formerly known as Carpenter’s Lane, however once the works were complete, local shopkeepers successfully petitioned to have it changed to its present name. The name came from men walking around ‘the block’ in one direction & women in the other, as a tradition before attending Australian rules football matches

If you’re feeling in need of some indulgence then the Hopetoun Tea Rooms would be happy to help!

17. Cross Collins Street & enter Centre Place

a laneway & pedestrian precinct that runs north from Flinders Lane to Collins Street. The laneway is famous for its vibrant bars, cafes, restaurants & boutiques. It also features some of Melbourne’s most well-known examples of street art & graffiti

18. Coming out of the Lane, pass Flinders Street Station. Ahead you can see St Paul’s Cathedral, which marks the place of the first Christian service held in Melbourne in 1835

Cross the road into the controversial Federation Square – why controversial? Because many Melbourne residents don’t think it fits in with the rest of the city’s architecture & we can see why…

19. Continue through the square & cross the bridge on St Kilda Road. in the distance you can see the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground, which we’ll visit shortly…

On the other side of the Yarra River’s the Arts Centre & National Gallery

20. Look back across the river to see one of the best views of the city…

…but also look up left at the Eureka Tower building with its distinctive red stripe

The tower is named after the Eureka Stockade rebellion during the 1854 Victoria gold rush (the building crown is gold coloured with a red stripe representing the gold & the bloodshed). The horizontal lines on the building represent the markings on a ruler & the blue facade with white lines is supposed to represent the blue & white flag of the stockade

21. Melbourne’s an incredible sporting city so it’s time to visit a couple of it’s most famous arenas. Walk along Alexandra Avenue & cross the Yarra into Olympic Boulevard – ahead now’s the MCG…

Home to the Melbourne Cricket Club it’s the 10th largest stadium in the world, & the largest in Australia, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, the largest cricket ground by capacity, & has the tallest floodlights of any sporting venue

Since it was built in 1853, the MCG has been in a state of almost constant renewal. It served as the centrepiece stadium of the 1956 Summer Olympics…

 …the 2006 Commonwealth Games & two Cricket World Cups

It’s also referred to as “the spiritual home of Australian Rules Football for its strong association with the sport since it was codified in 1859. The tours had finished for the day when we arrived, so we asked if we could just pop inside & take a photo. It was a “No” so this is the best we could do…

We did however love the statues outside – see if you can spot who they are!

22. Walk around the MCG & look over the other side of the railway tracks to see Melbourne Park, home of the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam which is played in January

So this is where our short look at the stunning city of Melbourne ends. What were our overriding thoughts…well we loved it’s laid back attitude, the cleanliness & just general ambience of old, mixed with the new. A great city!

If you’re in Aus make sure you visit &…

Go Walk!