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Gusto! High Tea at the State Library

Home > Melbourne > Afternoon Tea | Exhibitions | Food and Wine | High Tea
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
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Book high tea amongst the books
Red Rotunda State Library


The thing about our State Library is that it is so very 19th century. And I do mean that in the nicest way.

Sir Edmond Barry was instrumental in starting the library in 1854.

Although he did have his stern as well as his benevolent side. He was the hanging judge that sentenced poor old Ned Kelly. The bushranger told him in no uncertain terms that he would see the judge "where I go". And Barry dropped dead 12 days after Ned was hung. So whether Kelly was waiting for him in hell we (hopefully) will never know.

Sir Redmund Barry


But ironically these days Ned Kelly is a lot more famous than old Judge Barry.

Although Barry's creation, the State Library, lives on as a well loved institution. It is a glorious testament to Victorian times with its multi- columned facade, domed reading room, marble flooring and stained-glass windows. It is in fact recognised as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

It is now also the place for that Victorian pastime - the genteel, afternoon tea.

So it's hats on, gloves off and pinkies up because a series of these high teas are on the social calendar.

A genteel setting


The high tea consists of the usual pleasantries, beginning with a glass of sparkling wine and leading onto dainty savoury delights and decadent cakes.

But it is the setting that makes this event so special. High tea is served in the Red Rotunda, a stunning room with polished timber parquetry floors, high ceilings and plush red painted walls. The Victorians with their sombre ways really knew how to brighten up a room.

Looking down at you and your table manners are a number of eminent Victorians. The red walls are offset with the whiter marble busts and stern dark portraits of famous Victorians, including Sir Edmund Barry, William Buckley and Governor La Trobe.

Watch your table manners. You are being watched.


Afterwards, you can take an afternoon stroll among the gastronomic treasures showcased in the State Library's current exhibition Gusto! A culinary history of Victoria, running from the 3 August 2012 to 28 April 2013.


Gusto! State Library
Gusto! exhibition



Opened in 1913, this octagonal building is six stories high


For another of Melbourne's refined venues for high tea click here.
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Why? Because this is the perfect room for a high tea.
When: Saturday 16 March 2013, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Saturday 20 April 2013, 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Phone: 03 8664 7099 inquiries@slv.vic.gov.au
Where: 328 Swanston St, Melbourne
Cost: $80 or $70 if you have a table of ten or more
Your Comment
Will the high tea experience be available in May 2013? My company has a conference at this time, and whilst the lads work, the ladies shop and experience the host city! This would be a wonderful way to share a little bit of unique Melbourne with people from around the world. Thanks in advance for your response. SG
by sandy (score: 0|6) 2334 days ago
Hats on, gloves off and pinkies up... What a wonderful turn of phrase. I can't tell what I desire more, the beautiful surrounds or a delicious high tea.
by Shannon Meyerkort (score: 3|1792) 2403 days ago
Oh this does appeal in a big way! Sounds fantastic, and such a treat. Thanks so much for posting it.
by e_law (score: 2|425) 2409 days ago
What a great idea, The library is without doubt one of the most magnificent buildings in Melbourne and is under- appreciated.
Frank Stubbs
by Frank Stubbs (score: 1|16) 2379 days ago
Glad people are finding this idea useful.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|5520) 2408 days ago
What a great idea, The library is without doubt one of the most magnificent buildings in Melbourne and is under- appreciated.
Frank Stubbs
by Frank Stubbs (score: 1|16) 2379 days ago
Where is information about the menu available?
by Sarah (score: 0|2) 2399 days ago
Try REDMOND Barry perhaps.
by adche (score: 1|16) 2405 days ago
what an amazing idea!
by Maggie Ng (score: 1|22) 2408 days ago
Redmond!!!
by donna (score: 0|2) 2410 days ago
Redmond...!
by donna (score: 0|2) 2410 days ago
Redmond....
by donna (score: 0|2) 2410 days ago
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