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Published May 30th 2017
Uncover centuries of Melbourne's history on an easy walk through the city (by City of Melbourne)
Melbourne's CBD has an array of attractions, events and festivals, including Moomba, the AFL Grand Final, the Formula One Grand Prix, Jazz, Film, and Comedy Festivals, entertaining millions of tourists and locals each year. While these visitors enjoy the cultural and sporting capital of Australia, there are just as many historical hits for city explorers. Step through Melbourne's history with one of these top 5 walks.
Whichever walk you choose, take your time to imagine horse-drawn carriages, ladies in elaborate petticoats and gentleman with top hats, but stay safe.
While you're unlikely to become lost or abandoned on these popular walks in the inner-city, watch for signposts and warning signs, avoid wandering into construction zones and don't get caught by speeding Ubers or taxis when you cross streets.
Each of these walks offers unique highlights, worthy of regular return trips as the seasons change.
The State Library of Victoria, open to readers since 1856 (Anthony Agius / CC BY-SA 2.5)
Golden Mile Heritage Trail - 4km one-way
Although our streets aren't paved with gold, many of the city's historic buildings were built from the gold fever that once saw Melbourne become the richest city in the world. On the Golden Mile, you'll discover the legacy, although you're unlikely to find unclaimed gold.
Start at 400 Flinders St, outside the Immigration Museum, formerly Customs House, and built by an immigrant during the 1870s Gold Rush. Long before Queens Bridge was erected, Aboriginals would cross the Yarra from this point.
Walk north along William St, following the footsteps of John Batman as one of Melbourne's founders, over a century before the first comic book appearance of Batman.
West along Flinders Lane are warehouses and factories from the mid-1800s.
Return east along Collins St for the opulent Rialto Hotel, with arches, brickwork and towers to emulate the masterpieces of the medieval age in Venice, Italy.
At No. 36, make discreet enquiries to join the Melbourne Club, one of our city's most exclusive, with members including the first president of the Melbourne Cricket Club, along with military, legal, political and business leaders since 1838. Nearby are the equally selective Australian Club and Savage Club.
For stock tips and legal gossip, share a drink in the Mitre Tavern on 5 Bank Place, entertaining drinkers since the 1860s.
Travel back along Russell St to the Old Melbourne Gaol, where Ned Kelly breathed his last.
Beside the prison, a monument to the 8-hour working day is commemorated, fittingly beside Trades Hall, the oldest in the country, and the site of many firsts for the labour movement.
At 48 Drummond St, Medley Hall, of an Italianate Victorian Baroque design, is now the smallest residential college in Melbourne. It was once the Italian Consulate before the hostilities of World War II and featured in the film Knowing, starring Nicolas Cage.
Swing left down Queensberry St and onto Lygon St, lined with the longest terrace of 19th-century shopfronts in Melbourne. The two and three storey buildings blend Baroque, Flemish and Elizabethan architecture.
Continue west toward Rathdowne St and the historical landmarks in the 19th-century Carlton Gardens, including the Royal Exhibition Building, once the largest building in Australia, and the Melbourne Museum.
The Royal Exhibition Building, with tulips blooming (Diliff / CC BY-SA 2.5)
Kensington, Home of The Sullivans - 3km circuit
Begin at Kensington Train Station, the first highlight of the tour, which received the first carriage in 1860, bringing livestock to town.
Walk north along Bellair St to see Islington House, at No. 166, the famous setting for the television series The Sullivans.
Nearby at No. 156, W.G. Pearce's plumbing shopfront from the 1940s still hangs above the door although he's probably not doing house calls now.
At 114 is a villa in the Queen Anne Baroque style from the 1890s.
Outside the market is the Kensington Town Hall. The classically styled exterior protects an important community space, with function rooms for a variety of social events.
Take a series of left turns at Racecourse Rd, Smithfield Rd, Bluestone St and Bradfield Lane before crossing right through the Kensington Linear Reserve to reach a series of historic schools, churches and a scouting hall on this 1-hour walk.
Scots Church, built to be the most beautiful building in Australia (Adam Carr / Public Domain)
Sculpture City - 3km one-way
Walk southward down Swanston St, you'll ponder over a dozen sculptures covering a variety of artistic styles and subjects on this hour-long historical stroll.
Begin at the State Library for the neo-classical facade jutting from the pavement. Although it might seem as though the earth swallowed this part of the library, all the books are catalogued safely above ground. Keeping watch is a statue of Charles La Trobe, our first lieutenant-governor, with feather-topped helmet firmly fixed.
At the corner to Bourke St Mall, the emaciated Batman, Swanston and Hoddle seem too entranced by the surrounding shops to open their lunchboxes.
Crossing over Collins St, look up to the memorial to the ill-fated explorers, Burke and Wills.
The Golden Mile Heritage Walk is also a self guided walk. This fascinating App can be downloaded from Museum Victoria website under Walking Through History and includes 3 different walks. There are maps and interesting photos accessible on this app.