Ever since returning from Europe Chris and I have talked about doing more touristy things around Melbourne. I mean, we know not a lot about the city, despite having lived here for a couple of years now. All the tours we took overseas encouraged us to come back and hunt down one in Melbourne, which we did, but then it was months before we finally got around to doing it!
Yesterday we joined the afternoon tour offered by I’m Free Melbourne. We had been trying to think up an elaborate cover story for why we were on the tour (were we from rural Victoria? Or Perth? Or overseas?), but ultimately we ended up confessing to our guide that we were locals who wanted to learn more about our city. The tour started next to statue of Redmond Barry – which you can see below – out the front of the State Library. I never knew much about Redmond Barry, but turns out he was the person responsible for sentencing Ned Kelly to death. Yet he has the underwhelming Psychology building named after him at uni.
Our first stop was at the Old Melbourne Gaol, a place I had admittedly never been. We were told the story of Ned Kelly, and quickly discovered that basically every major development in the city was due to the Gold Rush.
Our next stop was Parliament House, another significant building I have yet to check out! It also turned out to be a hotspot for wedding photos.
We then ventured on down through Chinatown, which is always an interesting experience. It was certainly getting me all the more excited for an upcoming trip I just booked (spoiler: I am going to China and Hong Kong in just over a month!).
Next we diverted down the seedy-looking Croft Alley for our first glimpse at Melbourne street art. The alley is amazing to behold, and it made even better by the famous Croft Institute (a bar where you drink your cocktails with a syringe) hidden down the end. A typical Melbourne experience, and as our tour guide put it: if the alley looks like you are probably going to get stabbed down it, there is probably a great bar down there.
More phenomenal street art as we mazed our way through laneways.
Our tour guide also spent a bit of time elaborating on the discovery of Melbourne and it’s early success (and wonderful rivalry with Sydney). Admittedly this was again something I hadn’t known much about, except for the fact that Melbourne could potentially have been named ‘Batmania’. I mean, how freaking cool would that have been to be a local ‘Batmanian’?
We then made our way through Royal Arcade and the Block Arcade. Both are beautiful, modeling European architecture. Block Arcade is said to have been inspired by Milan, and I could certainly see that!
Hosier Lane was one of my most anticipated destinations of the tour. I have sadly only been here one or two times, but it is such an amazing place for street art.
There were even a couple of street artists doing their thing as we wandered through.
It was certainly getting cold and dark as we headed down towards to Yarra River to check out the more well known destinations of Melbourne – Federation Square (apparently one of the ugliest buildings ever?), Flinders Street station and the Arts Precinct.
I definitely found out a lot more about Melbourne from this tour, and it is one thing to check off Chris and my list of tourist things to do in Melbourne. Next, either the Shrine of Remembrance (I knowwwww I am an awful person), a show at one the theatres, or Parliament House. Hopefully it won’t take months to get around to it though!