We loved the tree-lined downtown streets, the trolleys, the fabled hook turns (well, given we were pedestrians, and our balcony overlooked both a park and a busy right-turn over a trolley tracks intersection which provided loads of entertainment, they were good,) the topography, the parks and botanical gardens, the historic precincts, the river-side walks and cafes. The immense free public spaces of Federation Square. Did I mention the coffee?
|love this style standoff, neither corner backing down|
But even the most jaded visitor would have been swayed by our two guides, the day we joined a free three-hour walking tour of the CBD. Their local knowledge, their enthusiasm, their friendliness and easy patter - and their Melbourne boosting - made being herded around the streets with two dozen 30-something tourists, a delight. Here are some walking tour guides should you be motivated into some arm chair travelling yourself.
|from Victorian pomp...|
|...to laneway street art|
|the Yarra, which once had a waterfall|
Melbourne became known as Marvellous Melbourne during the booming days of the gold rush in Ballarat and places north. By the 1880s Melbourne was larger than most European capital cities, with turrets, towers, domes and spires rivalling the best of them. Within a decade the whole thing crashed, banks and stockbrokers lost their nerve, many suffered great hardship.
|Melbourne Town Hall 1867|
|Majorca Building - Moorish glazed terracotta|
|State Library est. 1854|
|Princess' Theatre (1886)|
Precincts full of stone structures with their Colonial confidence, spreading lawns and gracious shade trees. Heaven.
There's a bookful of them - the National Trust Guide Walking Melbourne. This is a sample entry on the Princess Theatre. I'm dying to get my hands on this book somehow.
|City Court (1911) intimidating with Romanesque gloom|
|Royal Exhibition Building - 1880 - UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Parliament House (1855/1929) - long story|
Here's a useful Melbourne city planning website. Okay I can't think of anyone besides me who might use it, but don't want to lose track of it, so I'll store it here.
|Block Arcade(1891-93) - shopping for splendour|
If you should wish to enter the fray into which this laneway leads, here's a portal thanks to Streetview. In my on the fly photo you'll see a nod to Melbourne's noted street art, one of the ubiquitous invitations to coffee, and a peek at Moorish 1929 Forum Theatre (formerly The State Theatre) facing off with Federation Square across Flinders Street. Melbourne in one.
I've discovered a lot of great sites while researching this post. Raaer99 is a prolific photographer of Melbourne (and nearby Ballarat) buildings. Here's his Flickr photostream.
And should you not agree with my selection of favourites, here's Culturetrip's 'most impressive' list for reference.
And who knows, maybe I'll go back one day to discover a new list of favourites?