I'm Free Tours have been a success in Sydney, and for the last few months, the history of Melbourne has come to life with the local I'm Free Melbourne City version of this tour, and in a nutshell it is fascinating to say the least. This tour is conducted by a fantastic tour guide named Matt, who was actually born and bred in Melbourne, and lived in 'Marvellous Melbourne' for some time until Sydney called him for 15 years. For the last month and a half, Matt has now called Melbourne home once more.
Matt (in the green shirt) leading us along for a pleasant journey
All you need to do (unless you're in a large group of 10 or more) is show up to the State Library of Victoria at 10:30am on any day (except for Christmas day) you wish to partake in this amazing three-hour journey of how Melbourne, become Melbourne. Cool. With a group situation, you're advised to contact I'm Free Tours 24 hours in advance.
You will learn a lot about Marvellous Melbourne, yet it doesn't feel intense
This is an amazing free history lesson and you simply pay (in cash) what you feel the experience was worth to you at the end of this tour. It is so worth it, and Matt is so passionate about Melbourne. Furthermore, you will be passing two free Wi-Fi hotspots that Matt will also tell you about.
1. Melbourne is the literature capital of Australia...
Matt starting the tour outside the tours meeting place
No wonder Melbourne breeds fantastic writers and other creatives. From what began as a European farming settlement in 1835, Melbourne has been voted the Unesco City of Literature. Matt also mentioned that the State Library of Victoria was opened in 1856. You will find out which two people started this library.
2. From Ned Kelly to an RMIT campus...
Matt giving us a great history lesson at the Old Melbourne Gaol
While we were on our way to find out more about the Old Melbourne Gaol, Matt talked about how the 'hook turns' work in Melbourne. I also found out that the Old Melbourne Gaol is known as a 'blue stone' building in Melbourne. Old Melbourne Gaol was built in the early 1860's and is now an RMIT campus. Ned Kelly was one of 133 people hanged in this prison. Ned Kelly was hanged in 1881, and his mother was also a prisoner there. The judge involved in Ned Kelly's case died 12 days later.
3. Did a bomb go off?
Time in nature too, although this area is unrelated to the bomb going off
You be the judge of that. When you're an entrepreneur, you call life on your own terms. Learn about the eight hours movement. Haymarket Parade has something as to where the eight-hour work day came about.
5. The Garden of love...
Past the 'garden of love' to something just as loveable about Melbourne
Matt then took our group to Carlton Gardens for an interesting history lesson. We learnt more about Australia's history, including the first fleet. A man named John Murray played a significant part in Melbourne's history of European heritage at the time. How did Collins Street in the city become Collins Street? Find out more on this tour.
6. Batman, Fawkner and the 'rivalry' was established...
We have John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner to thank for finding Melbourne, despite the city being called a few different names prior. Richard Bourke (who rightly so has a street named after him in the city) is responsible for the M word for this marvellous city. Who knows, Melbourne could have been called 'Batmania.' Melbourne was founded by enemies: Batman and Fawkner did not get on very well at the time. Learn about the dramatic changes on this tour.
The Royal Exhibition Building was prominent in the 1880's, where this location attracted more visitors than Melbourne's population at the time. The local council wanted to demolish this building in 1948. This building was heritage listed. Sydney's solution? The Sydney Opera House. Tonnes of gold was found here, and Sydney wasn't too happy about this. This was the time of the 'the Gold Rush' - when Melbourne and Sydney separated.
The Royal Exhibition Building was also called a 'Marvellous Melbourne' building. A popular journalist created the name 'Marvellous Melbourne' at the time. More champagne was consumed in Melbourne during this time than in France. Furthermore, Matt also mentioned that the State Parliament house is also a "grand gold boom building" including St Patrick's Cathedral. You will also find out what other names Melbourne was called (hint: The Yarra River) before Melbourne was christened Melbourne on this excellent walking tour.
Learn more about this prominent person on Exhibition Street during this tour. Matt also took us to Melbourne's Chinatown and from there he explained that Melbourne's Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the world. San Francisco's was destroyed through an earthquake. Matt also went on to mention that 40,000 Chinese people lived in Melbourne during the Gold Rush era. Many of Melbourne's cultural precincts, such as Lygon and Lonsdale Streets started in 1972.
Matt showed us a plastic dragon - a tremendous piece of art. This piece of art has only been on display at Chinatown for only a few months. The street art in Stevenson Street was fascinating. The artworks included images of Ned Kelly before his execution, and a member from rock band AC/DC. Artwork featuring Michael Jackson was also on show (pity about the smelly bins in the way) and it is true: Melbourne is also the stencil art capital of the world.
Learn about this on the tour at Bourke Street Mall, where Myer also opened in 1914. Moving on, Matt took us to Melbourne Town Hall, and mentioned that Melbourne is also home to the biggest tram network in the world. Melbourne's tram network is ten kilometres longer than Russia's. Bridge Road, Brunswick and Chapel Streets also got a mention for their prominence. Construction of Melbourne's Town Hall commenced in 1851. Builders were searching for gold, hence the lengthy construction delays at the time. Bourke and Wills received a mention, and we went for a walk along "the block." Find out more on this great tour. The bar and cafe revolution rocked Melbourne between 1994 and 2004.
11. Legendary laneways...
What to expect in one of Melbourne's legendary laneways
A street named after a rock band and a brand of stockings was also discovered with some fantastic street art. This street art changes every 4 weeks. The Ned Kelly hat-trick. You will be walking through these legendary laneways on this tour. Was Melbourne also known as the amphetamine capital of Australia? Take the tour and find out.
Flinders Street station opened in 1856. Local outrage occurred in the 1980's when digital clocks were going to replace the old fashioned clocks that are still there today. Thanks to the centenary of Federation, a newer, more popular meeting place was created in 2002. The designers travelled as far as the Kimberley's to source the colour of the pavements. Welcome to Federation Square, otherwise known as Fed Square.
13. The events capital of Australia...
Right near a colourful part of Melbourne at Christmas
Melbourne has many accolades to its name, and this is impressive. The MCG was also covered. Matt then went on to talk about the Melbourne Cup. The race that 'stops a nation' was started in 1861, and is the second biggest race to the Kentucky Derby today.
14. New Years Eve and Southbank...
Michael Jackson art was also discovered on this tour
Matt then took to us the arts precinct, and pointed exactly as to where a fire occurred on New Year's Eve 2011. The fine arts precinct was built in 1968, and it was interesting to know that slaughterhouses used to exist near the Yarra River. Matt then gave some tips about the Myki system, and mentioned that Melbourne has been voted the world's most liveable city for two years running. I later found out that the only thing Matt does not like too much about Melbourne is the cooler weather. The tour finished at Southbank.
Walking near two prominent Victorian explorers on this tour
Highly recommended. Matt's knowledge of Melbourne is awesome, and he is a rather entertaining tour guide. This is even coming from someone who used to live in this 'marvellous' city before Sydney came knocking. There is a lot of beauty to Melbourne than meets the eye.
Street art that changes every few weeks? That's Marvellous Melbourne for you