This month we’re off to experience another adventure-filled escapade as we travel back to the gold rush era disguised as a modern society that’s teeming with breathtaking glass-paned buildings and age-old heritage sites. Let’s get to know Victoria’s capital city: Melbourne.
Melbourne and Its Central District
Located on the southern tip of Australia, Melbourne has been known as the capital city of Victoria since 1851. It’s among the most visited in the country and was named after William Lamb, a British prime minister during the early reign of Queen Victoria. It was founded in the year 1835 by explorer John Batman and an indigenous group called the Vandemonians (current day Tasmania).
Melbourne continued to progress as one of the world’s wealthiest cities when they discovered gold within its territory. Known as the Victorian Gold Rush, the period of 1851 – 1860 marked the height of the state’s prosperity and development. Nowadays, Melbourne is the 2nd most populated metropolis in the country.
If you’re looking to stroll around, Melbourne’s attractions, scenic spots, and historical landmarks are all located within the Central Business District or CBD. Surrounded by the main streets of La Trobe, Flinders, Spring, and Spencer, the district is further divided into several suburbs like South Yarra, Fitzroy, Prahran, St. Kilda, and many more.
One of the most common first stops in the area is Federation Square along Flinders and Swanson Street. It’s been open for public use since 2002 and houses the Melbourne Visitor Centre, an underground tourist information hub promoting the city’s current events and famous landmarks. From there, visitors can start to explore the entire city beginning with the paved square with a large LED screen for live broadcast events; The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the country’s national museum of film, videogames, digital culture and art, and the Gothic Revival structure St. Paul’s Cathedral, all located in front of the square.
Choose from a diverse array of restaurants and food carts located along Federation Square. Among the most popular to locals and tourists alike are I1 Pom Italian, the sweet sorbets of the Popstic Ice Cream Cart, Japanese restaurant Chocolate Buddha, and the selection of Australian beer and wine brews of Beer Deluxe and Transit Rooftop Bar.
Of Museums and Railway Stations
Located just across Federation Square is the world-renowned Flinders Street Railway Station. Found on the corner of Flinders and Swanson Street, the art nouveau style structure is considered the country’s busiest railway network. In operation since 1854, the station’s most iconic features are its domed and arched main entry facing Flinders Street, a Clock Tower located along the Elizabeth Street entrance, and a set of computer-operated clocks displaying the trains’ departure times installed on top of the main entrance. Due to its historical and cultural value, the Flinders Street Railway Station is included in the Victorian Heritage Register.
A short cab ride from Federation Square will take you to the Shrine of Remembrance constructed at King’s Domain Gardens. Normally called The Shrine, the area is a war memorial for every Victorian man and woman who fought and sacrificed their lives during the war. Built and designed in a classical style by architects and war veterans Phillip Hudson and James Wardrop, The Shrine’s façade consists of a stepped pyramid roof, Tynong granite walls, four massive statues depicting Peace, Justice, Patriotism, and Sacrifice, and a large entrance courtyard and garden. The interior consists of black marble and sandstone columns inscribed with the phrase “Greater Love Hath No Man.” Underneath is a crypt guarded by a statue of a soldier father and son surrounded by the names of every unit of the Australian Imperial Force.
Learn of Victoria’s rich antiquity and cultural value at the Old Treasury Building. Initially built to safekeep gold during the Gold Rush, the Renaissance Revival structure has since been transformed into a museum along Spring Street. Designed by 19-year old architect John James Clark, the museum takes you on a tour of life before and after the gold rush with exhibits like “Built on Gold,” “Melbourne: Foundations of a City.” The attraction is free and self-guided.
Beside the museum are the Treasury Gardens, complete with park benches, picnic areas, and an ornamental pond for relaxation. Memorial busts of John F. Kennedy, Sir William John Clarke, and Robert Burns can also be seen around the garden area.
Melbourne’s Shopping Districts.
Take a day off your itinerary to visit the famous shopping districts of this vibrant metropolis: the Queen Victoria Village (also known as QV) and the South Melbourne Market.
The Queen Victoria Village spans from the streets of Swanston, Lonsdale, Russell and Little Lonsdale. It’s a popular hub for local and international clothing brands as well as several fine dining restaurants, state-of-the-art bars and clubs as well as cafes that offer original Australian blend coffees; all of which surround a wide central plaza.
If you’re looking for more options, QV has an underground food court as well as a spacious supermarket filled with carts and stalls selling various Australian delicacies, hand-crafted souvenirs, and fresh products and produce. Apartment buildings also surround the district and are available for rent.
The State Library of Victoria is only a minute walk away from the plaza. The building is considered the oldest public library in Australia, consisting of millions of books of different genres and thousands of reading materials such as newspapers, manuscripts, diaries of prominent individuals and age-old photographs. Whether you prefer to read outside on grassy lawns or inside the building’s many reading rooms, the State Library of Victoria will surely melt the hearts of book lovers around the world.
The South Melbourne Market, on the other hand, lies in the South Melbourne suburb and offers tourists various stores and curious finds like fruit, vegetable, meat, and poultry stands, flower shops, bookshops and stationary stores, pet shops, fashion and fabric boutiques, handmade genuine leather bags, and sheepskin accessories. Eat and drink from a wide selection of cuisines and brews to choose from like the French bakery Agathé Pâtisserie, bean-to-bar chocolatier Atypic Chocolate, Australian-Asian fusion restaurant Bambu, the Aptus Seafood Grill, and the different brews of Clement Coffee. If you’re in the area on May 23, join in on the fund raising and cancer awareness day by drinking a cup of tea for the “Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea” event.
Of Rivers and Piers
Spend the day having fun in the water when you visit the famous Yarra River. The entire river runs straight through the city with recreational activities offered for tourists like boating, river cruises, swimming, fishing, and water-skiing. Spanning the Yarra River is Princes Bridge, a 120 m structure built in the shape of an arch that connects Swanson Street and St. Kilda Road. It was designed by John Grainger from 1886 to 1888.
Lastly, take a walk along the breakwater of St. Kilda Pier located along the stretch of Port Phillip. St. Kilda offers many recreational activities for its visitors like swimming in the adjacent St. Kilda Beach, yacht cruises on the Marina, spa activities at the St. Kilda Baths, and a walk, jog, or bicycle ride on the St. Kilda promenade. Make the most out of the trip by watching the sunrise and sunset on the St. Kilda Pier viewing deck that overlooks the bay. End the night by exploring the sweet streets of Acland and Fitzroy, known for their delicious cakes and vibrant nightlife.
A Journey to the Land of the Rich and Wealthy
Escape the tropical heat of the sun and spend your remaining days of summer in Melbourne where the past and the present collide to bring you a once in a lifetime getaway. Take a journey to the land of the rich and wealthy where progress and development start with hard work, perseverance, and a bar of gold.