Melbourne Old Treasury Building


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.



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).


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.


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


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)


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


Down in the vaults,


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


and a collection of “gold” bars


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.


Crowd(c 1922)

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


Mittagong Landscape (1958)

I loved this mixed media work by Elwyn Lynn


Ebb (1964)

And another by Asher Bilu


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.


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


Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market


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.


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.



Return to “Funky Fitzroy”


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.


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.


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.


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



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

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More artistic decoration of street furniture



There’s even an urban garden centre


Some interesting modern buildings – a sign of gentrification


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


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




After our afternoon by the seaside we took the tram over to the trendy district of Prahran, which is about 5 km south west of the CBD.

At the end of the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century the area was a major shopping centre with large stores, rivalling Melbourne city centre. However, after WWII it started to become run down, with the large shops becoming abandoned and derelict. In the 1970’s it started to become gentrified attracting “bohemian” types and a large gay community. Today it’s a popular area with a mix of upscale fashion boutiques, bookstores and music shops and lots of cafés, bars, restaurants with a very active nightlife and a look of “trendy dilapidation”

I loved this former temperance hotel – now a bar selling alcohol.







We decided we’d like to eat out and were spoiled for choice. There’s an incredible selection of places to eat with almost every type of cuisine you can think of available. It was hard to choose, but we plumed for a contemporary take on Chinese food at the Oriental Teahouse on Chapel Street – the main thoroughfare.


where we had a rather excellent meal


St Kilda


After our visit to the Shrine of Remembrance we hopped on a tram to the popular seaside suburb of St Kilda, only 6 km from the city centre. A little bit of history pinched from Wikipedia

During the Victorian and Edwardian eras, St Kilda became a favoured suburb of Melbourne’s elite, and many palatial mansions were constructed along its hills and waterfront. Shortly after the turn of the 20th century, St Kilda served a similar function for Melburnians as did Coney Island to the residents of New York City and its history draws an interesting parallel. Densely populated postwar St Kilda became Melbourne’s red-light district, home to low-cost rooming houses. Since the late 1960s, St Kilda has become known for its culture of bohemianism and as home to many prominent artists, musicians and subcultures, including punk and LGBT. While some of these groups still maintain a presence in St Kilda, in recent years the district has experienced rapid gentrification pushing many lower socio-economic groups out to other areas

There’s some interesting old photos of the town here.

It was a sunny day, so there were plenty of other people who’d turned out to enjoy the beach and other attractions. On Sunday’s there’s a craft market along the Esplanade, so we took a look


The market was very good. The stalls were generally selling good quality arts, crafts and other items. We bought a painting from a stall run by an indigenous artist and had an interesting chat with him. Unfortunately I neglected to take a photo.

There was also a rather good busker, blasting out some raw blues


We stopped and watched him for a while.

After looking round the market we felt the need for some sustenance and went looking for somewhere to get a drink and a bite to eat. We didn’t have to go far. Acland Street, at the end of the Esplanade, is renowned for it’s cake shops . There’s a whole row of them all with windows full of different types of cakes, tarts, meringues and the like.


We were tempted and stopped for a coffee and cake.

Revived, we walked back along the Esplanade and then took a stroll along the pier where there were panoramic views cross the bay to the skyscrapers in the city centre.


Then we doubled back and walked along the beach


as far as Luna Park, an old fashioned funfair.


By then we felt we’d seen enough so hopped back on a crowded tram and set off to explore Prahan, another suburb.

We returned to St Kilda the next evening. It was quite a windy day and there were lots of people kite surfing in the bay


The reason for re-visiting was to see the little penguins (Eudyptula minor) that nest in the pier’s breakwater. During the day they’re out swimming in the sea, but return after sunset.

Waiting for the sun to go down we had a walk along the beach,


returning to the pier to watch a dramatic sunset.


The end of the pier, where the penguins nest, was crowded. So we weren’t the only ones who’d heard about the penguins! It started to go dark and, at first, it seemed like we had made a fruitless journey. But then there was some movement in the water and a few penguins started to hobble onto the breakwater. After a short while there were dozens of them. Unfortunately it was too dark to get any decent photos – you can’t use flash or you disturb the penguins. However, there’s some photos on the St Kilda Penguins website.

We stopped for a while, watching them come ashore and waddle about on and in the breakwater. They look rather comical on land, but it’s a different story when they’re in the water. Then it was back down the pier to catch a very crowded tram back to Federation Square.

Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance


During our time in Melbourne, we seemed to keep ending up at the city’s war memorial the Shrine of Remembrance. It’s in the KIng’s Domain, off St Kilda Road, a short distance south of the Yarra and close to one of the main entrances of the Botanic Gardens.

It’s a neo-Classical building, the design  based on the ancient Mausoleum of Maussollos and the Parthenon. It’s a square building topped by a stepped pyramid with classicalstyle columned porticos to the north and south. Entering through the portico’s takes visitors into the Sanctuary, with the Stone of Remembrance in the centre of the floor. There are steps up to the balcony from where there are extensive views over the city.

Excavated underneath  the building, and opened in 2003, there’s a visitor centre accessed via the Entrance Courtyard. The museum has an extensive display of artefacts and an exhibition telling the story of the Australian forces participation in conflicts around the world. The Gallipoli Campaign was, not surprisingly, covered in some detail and the exhibits included one of the landing boats used to ferry the troops onto the peninsula.



There are three other courtyards (so there is one at each corner of the Shrine). There are sunken gardens in the  two western courtyards while the south eastern one leads to a dedicated entry for school groups and has a giant red poppy suspended above it, providing welcome shade on a hot sunny day!


The walls are lined with black metal, perforated with a map of the world reinterpreted in morse code. When the students enter the space, they are given an initial introduction and poppy to place in the wall.


Here’s a few photos taken from the balcony, looking over the city



Another moving monument.