Visiting the mysterious lanes and byways of Melbourne bring to life the history of an area mostly dating back to the Victorian era when the narrow streets were used by horses and carts. Some even date back to the Gold Rush era slums.
Starting in Degraves Street, a crowded alley had, years ago, been a way in and out for delivery trucks. Revitalized, it now has café’s spilling out on either side with bars hidden away among its upper floors also, among these hidden treasures one-off shops selling things such as imported hand-made stationery and Lingerie.
19th Century Block Arcade, less of a lane than an arcade, is roofed in an etched glass with a mosaic tile floor, the biggest expanse in Australia. Under its arched roof are café’s serving cucumber sandwiches and where you frequently hear the clinking of china cups in places like Hopetoun Tea Room. Included in this space is a doll hospital, a photoshop which specializes in restoration and a shop called Australian By Design where you can purchase locally made art and crafts.
Centre Place, quintessentially Melbourne, is an arcaded laneway which had been favored by artists in the 1980’s. Filling this half block lane are café’s, (like The Soup Kitchen and B3Cafe), shops like Kinki Gerlinki and vintage-inspired label Princess Highway. While strolling the laneway, take some time to enjoy an ever-evolving gallery of street art. While graffiti is, in theory, is illegal, Melbourne is ambivalent towards it.
As the population of Melbourne grew and the land sub-divided, those narrow lanes gave birth to even narrower ones. Of course, the gold rush of the 1850’ increased the demand for housing which quickened the pace. By 1895 there were 158 signposted lanes and 106 “alleys”. Among these were homes, brothels, warehouses, and factories.
While this is only a snippet of this magnificent CDB destination, one of the best ways for visitors to see the wonderful sights and learn to learn the history of the many streets in this area, is to take a Hidden Secrets tour.
My thanks to Hidden Secrets Tours for several of the pictures in this blog.
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Since my first trip to Australia in 1998, I have returned to the South Pacific over 30 times. On each visit I meet with hoteliers, tour companies, car companies, cruise companies and other suppliers in the region. With this knowledge, I am able to answer your questions and assist you in planning the memorable vacation of your dreams.