On a recent work trip to Melbourne, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay the weekend and explore more of the city (also see my previous post Walking Melbourne). I booked to go on a Laneways of Melbourne walking tour: there are few different companies offering these tours, I went with MelTours.
This was an absolutely fascinating experience and opened my eyes to much more of the city than I would have ever explored myself, with the benefits of a local guide to tell you the history and quirky stories and secrets of Melbourne. The tour starts in Federation Square with a good introduction to many of the surrounding buildings such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Flinders St Station, as well as the buildings in Federation Square itself and the sporting precinct nearby. We hear stories of pubs and theatres, and local heroes and oddities – too many for me to cover in this post but one that took my fancy was the story of Chloe. Chloe is a famous painting of a nude that won medals and was exhibited in international exhibitions but caused absolute scandal when displayed back home. It was eventually bought by the then proprietors of the Prince’s Bridge Hotel and displayed in their bar (apparently Chloe has gracefully retired upstairs now).
A highlight of the tour is seeing the laneways that are famous for their ever-changing palette of street art especially Hosier Lane. We are reminded that there are hundreds of laneways in Melbourne and many are simply used for rubbish bins, but we are shown those with points of interest. These include exclusive fashion stores, jewellery studios and even bars that you could easily miss if you didn’t know they were there (particularly on a Sunday when they were shut). Postal Lane is now a restaurant strip but there are hints of its past with signs to “Beware of Motor Cars” beside doorways. The Adelphi Hotel is famous for its swimming pool on the roof that overhangs the street.
We explore a range of fascinating ornate arcades and hear stories of the buildings’ histories (and those of their owners). We get to taste chocolates at Lindt Chocolat Café, feast our eyes on the fabulous window display and interiors at Hopetoun Tea Rooms, and admire the fantastic mosaic floors and exquisitely painted ceilings in The Block Arcade. Apparently the ceilings are so exquisite that this is the only shop in Melbourne exempt from fire regulations that would require sprinklers systems to be installed.
It was a wonderful 3 hours and I can thoroughly recommend doing this (and/or the other tours they offer) as a way to learn more about what is behind this fascinating city. I was very disappointed that there weren’t enough people booked for the Foodies Tour of Melbourne that I had also been keen to do – maybe next time!
For short tours and day tours in Australia see:
Short Breaks and Urban Adventures under Intrepid Travel’s trip themes
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more ☺.