Melbourne Old Treasury Building

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All good things come to an end so, sadly, we had to leave Melbourne and Australia to take the long journey home. But our plane only left late afternoon so we still had a morning to fill and so decided to walk round the block to the Old Treasury Building. It was built between 1858 and 1862 following the Victorian Gold Rush as a safe place to store the gold that had been mined and also to provide offices for the Governor, Treasurer and some other officials. Today it’s a museum with displays about the history and development of Melbourne.

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The building was designed in the Renaissance Revival style by JJ Clark, a nineteen-year-old architect who was originally from Liverpool (there was a map of his native city that he’s drawn on display in the lobby).

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The displays were very interesting and showed just how quickly Melbourne had grown from a small outpost to a major city, all due to the Victorian Gold Rush. I particularly liked this panorama showing how the city looked in 1882.

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There were displays about Indigenous Victorians and first white settlement in 1835, Victorian Democracy, Victorians at Work and the Gold Rush, the heated debate on whether Australia should enter WW1

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and the bushrangers which included the suit of armour worn by one of the Kelly gang (we’d already seen Ned Kelly’s armour in the Sate Library)

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And here’s the official record of Ned Kelly’s first conviction

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Down in the vaults,

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there was a replica of the largest gold nugget found in the Victorian gold fields

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and a collection of “gold” bars

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We spent a good couple of hours looking round before taking a final stroll through Fitzroy Gardens. Then it was time to collect our bags and make our way to the airport.

We were reluctant to leave, but the flight was booked! I hope this won’t be our last trip to Australia. It’s a long way but we’ve already got an idea about returning.

 

NGV Australia – Non Indigenous works

There was a lot to see in the NGV Australia gallery on Federation Square. We’d particularly interested in the work of Indigenous artists but there were plenty of other works that we enjoyed. Most were by artists that we weren’t aware of until our visits to the NGV and the galleries in Sydney and Canberra. So here’s a few of our “discoveries”.

Arthur Streeton, who painted in an Impressionist style, was one of Australia’s best known and most influential landscape painters. Here’s a painting of Circular Quay in Sydney

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and another of Coogee beach in Sydney which we’d visited during our stay there.

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This is a view of a seemingly secluded part of Sydney Harbour

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There were works by other Australian Impressionists too. here’s a painting by Charles Conder, of Rickett’s Point, Beaumaris, Melbourne.

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Female artists were represented in the collection, although, as usual, there were fewer of their works on display than those by men.  I particularly liked this painting by Grace Cossington Smith, an Australian Post Impressionist.

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Crowd(c 1922)

Fred Williams was originally a figurative painter, but is best known for his later, abstract landscapes

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Mittagong Landscape (1958)

I loved this mixed media work by Elwyn Lynn

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Ebb (1964)

And another by Asher Bilu

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Yuga II (1966)

Indigenous art at NGV Australia

The National Gallery of Victoria’s “Ian Potter Centre” is the sister gallery to NGV International, which we’d visited the day after we’d arrived in Melbourne. Part of the Federation Square complex, and housed in one of the abstract modern buildings, it is, as it’s name suggests, dedicated exclusively to showing Australian art, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, from the colonial period to the present day.

There are 20 individual galleries displaying hundreds of works of art, both from the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. We spent just about the whole of our last afternoon in Australia looking around the gallery, hardly pausing for a break. By the end we were “arted out” and there was still more to see.

We started out by looking around the galleries displaying indigenous art. During my previous visit, in 2014, the works were located on the ground floor. This time they were mainly concentrated in galleries on the top floor.

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As with the indigenous works we’d seen in Sydney and Canberra, the artists had largely employed traditional styles, which are abstract and representational rather than figurative. There was much use of coloured dots and cross hatching (known as ‘Rarrk’) and  traditional media, such as tree bark, and materials. However, many of the works had been created using modern materials such as acrylics and canvas. The works themselves, although employing traditional approaches and ideas, were imaginative and the artists have built on these to create  imaginative modern works. Here’s just a selection

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Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market

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We started our penultimate day in Australia by taking the tram over to the Queen Victoria Market. It’s a real traditional style market, where locals come to do their shopping, but, Rather like Borough Market in London, it’s also a popular tourist attraction. Although, unlike Borough Market, which is solely devoted to food, it has stalls selling just about everything; meat, fish, vegetables, clothing, household goods and tourist souvenirs. It’s massive, extending over several blocks, with the stalls under cover in two large market halls.

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We had a good mooch around and, if we had been staying longer in Melbourne, would have been tempted by the meat, fish, veg and other food stuffs on sale. But as we were leaving the next day we had to restrict ourselves to window shopping. We did, however, buy a few things to take home. Some tourist souvenirs, which were cheaper than the equivalents on sale in the city centre shops, and I treated myself to a new kangeroo leather hat.

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Return to “Funky Fitzroy”

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Fitzroy is a suburb of Melbourne, just 3 km north east of the Central Business District. Like Prahran, it’s a very lively, trendy “hipster” area. I’d enjoyed exploring the district during my previous visit to Melbourne in 2014 so we decided to go and take another look around.

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The district was created in 1839 and rapidly grew as a working class suburb during the 19th century. Consequently there are a large number of very typical Australian Victorian terraced houses. During the 20th Century it became populated with immigrants from many different countries. These days the area has been gentrified and has become popular with trendy middle class “hipsters”. The character of the area reflects all of these.

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There are a large number of well preserved Australian style Victorian era working class terraced houses. They’re smaller and more compact than those I saw in the more prosperous region to the east of the city centre, but still have verandas and balconies decorated with intricate ironwork and with corrugated iron roofs.

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Many of the houses and buildings have been decorated by street artists

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and there’s plenty of great street art all around the are

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More artistic decoration of street furniture

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There’s even an urban garden centre

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Some interesting modern buildings – a sign of gentrification

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and the old, neo Classical Town Hall, quite different from other buildings in the area

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Melbourne’s Arcades and Laneways

Melbourne’s laneways are narrow streets and alleys that were originally intended to provide rear access to properties facing big streets. Many were later roofed as ‘arcades’ to provide refuge from the weather and crowds and to provide more space for shops and there are also some purpose built shopping arcade. We’d had a wander through some of them on the evening we arrived and decided to have a mooch and explore them a little more on the morning of our 4th day in the city.

The lanes, such as Degraves Street, and the arcades are the centre of Melbourne’s “café society” and many of the alleyways are a mecca of street art.  Here’s a few photos

Into the Block Arcade with some rather fancy shops

and a café that rather looked like a Melbournian version of Betty’s of Harrogate and with a similar queue outside

Lots of other cafes with plenty of character to stop for a brew

Into the Royal Arcade with more fancy shops and the clock with its accompanying giants – Gog and Magog

Out into the laneways there was plenty of street art

and for some reason references to Manchester cropped up here

One of Melbourne’s 1930’s Art Deco style skyscrapers is the Manchester Unity Building and there’s an arcade running through it

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