Walking Tour of Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne, Australia, is a pleasant city (one of the world’s most livable) which is extremely European and a joy to visit. The city lies along the Yarra River, a short distance from the southern coast of Australia.
One of the best ways to get oriented to what the city has to offer is to take the free City Circle Tram. It is available at several specially marked stops and travels by most of the city’s attractions in its 40 minute trip.
The most popular walk in the city traverses the area known as the Golden Mile, which passes by numerous historically and architecturally significant buildings. Many buildings are classic nineteenth century structures. Self-guiding maps are available at Tourist Information Centers. The entire city center is walker-friendly, with narrow, cobblestone streets and alleyways.
My walk begins at Federation Square, home of The Atrium, a remarkable and unusual building of zinc, glass, and steel. Across the street (to the west) is one of Melbourne’s most memorable and recognizable buildings, Flinders Street Station. Across the street to the north is St Paul’s Cathedral. The striking exterior is basically Gothic in design, while the interior is positively stunning.
Now, walk north on Swanston Street, which contains a concentration of Melbourne’s most elegant and interesting architecture. Just beyond St Paul’s is the Regent Theatre, whose foyer is breath-taking. It has been called the city’s “palace of dreams.” The Melbourne Town Hall is further north, on the right. The elegant structure has a portico with excellent views of the area.
Continue north on Swanston Street and then turn right on Latrobe Street to find the Old Magistrate Court, at the corner of Russell Street, a striking Romanesque edifice. Next door, just north on Russell Street, is the ghostly Old Melbourne Gaol. It has a fascinating history and is fun to visit.
Walk north on Russell Street and turn right on Franklin Street, then right again on Victoria Street, and right again on Nicholson Street, which becomes Spring Street. Here you will find Parliament House and, just beyond it, the Stanford Fountain. Make a sharp left turn onto Macarthur Street and then right on Cathedral Place to reach St Patrick’s Cathedral, another Gothic-Revival masterpiece.
Straight ahead are the Fitzroy Gardens, whose landscaped paths provide some peace and solitude. The gardens also include Cook’s Cottage, the childhood home of Captain Cook, which was disassembled and transported to Melbourne in 1934 from its original location in England. Displays center on Captain Cook’s accomplishments and legacy.
Now, exit the gardens to the east and turn right on Clarendon Street, then right again on Flinders Street. When you reach St Kilda Road, turn left and then left onto Birdwood Avenue, into another must-see attraction, the King’s Domain. This area includes the Royal Botanic Gardens, one of the finest of its kind in the world, which the visitor can either explore on his/her own or participate in free guided walks which are offered daily. Either way, stroll around the beautiful grounds and be sure to check out the Shrine of Remembrance, in the southwestern section, and the Ornamental Lake area, laid out like a classic English landscape garden. You can easily spend several hours exploring the gardens, but eventually find your way back to Birdwood Avenue and head northward, back to St Kilda Road. Turn right to return to Federation Square, your starting point.