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JetSet Melbourne Exhibition

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by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
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Gosh, Melbourne was Hicksville
Source JetSet Melbourne


I can remember when my Aunt came out from England in the 1960s. My father drove all the way to Sydney to pick her up because Melbourne didn't have an international airport.

It is hard to imagine how our cool, sophisticated and cosmopolitan city, with its high end fashions and coffee culture, could ever have been so hick.

The free exhibition Jet Set Melbourne, on at the City Gallery in the Melbourne Town Hall, is testament to the fact that we were Hicksville.

It fact it wasn't until 1956, when Melbourne hosted the Olympics, that our city really took off. We did so well at the swimming that huge swimming pools were built throughout the suburbs which was a bit of bonus to kids growing up in the boring burbs.

Source JetSet Melbourne


Sadly getting ready for all the international visitors also meant ripping down so many of Melbourne's beautiful heritage buildings (built with money from the gold rush) and the beginning of our skyscrapers.

There was a famous market, for example, called the Eastern Market, which was torn down to build Melbourne's first international hotel the Southern Cross.

The Eastern Market is gone. Thank goodness we kept the Queen Vic.


Even this piece of modernism was in turn been torn down and a nondescript office block built over it. So much for history and a hotel that once played host to the Beatles, Judy Garland, Rock Hudson, John Wayne and Marlene Dietrich. Melbourne really needs a talking to when it comes to preserving its history.

Southern Cross Melbourne's first international hotel which ended up lying derelict.


It was in the 60s that Melbourne also decided to build Tullarmarine, its first international airport.

Source JetSet Melbourne


It was all about competing with Sydney and entering the world stage.

The airport was not completed until 1970. We fondly called it Tulla; it's that Australian tendency of bringing the mighty down to a diminutive level.

Melburnians thought they were pretty cool back in 1970 with their international airport. It was JetSet Melbourne as this exhibition depicts. Women in mini-skirts and huge false eyelashes, guys with their longish hair and bushy side burns.

The Jet Set Melbourne exhibition revisits this era through a series of objects, photographs, moving images and artworks.

It is the story of the high life and not only the rapid building activity that went on but in contrast the human cost of Melbourne's 'expand at all costs' mentality. For example the TAA Centre Tower overshadowed the nineteenth century buildings at its base. The construction of Tullamarine Freeway saw many houses bulldozed and people torn from much loved homes.

The exhibition, Jet Set Melbourne, is curated by historian Simon Gregg who is currently the Curator at the Gippsland Art Gallery in regional Victoria and the author of two books of Australian art history.

Source JetSet Melbourne


It is strange to think that back. In 1970 Tulla serviced 155,000 international passengers. Last year it serviced 30 million and Melbourne to Sydney is the fifth busiest route in the world. How things change.

Soon it may be time for a new airport. But we won't do what Sydney did and that was run out of land and build runways out into the water. Being Melbourne we are a bit more sophisticated than that. We just tear things down and get on with it.
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Why? To see our past and look to our future
When: Finishes on the the 20th of April Mon: 10am 2pmTue: 11am 6pmWed: 11am 6pmThu: 11am 6pm Fri: 11am 6pmSat: 10am 4pm
Phone: 9658 9658
Where: Melbourne Town Hall 110 Swanston Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Cost: FREE Event
Your Comment
I was disgusted with the casual destruction and demolition of yet another piece of Melbourne's heritage, the Southern Cross Hotel. Only to be replaced with an horrible lump of grey concrete & glass rubbish - one helluvan ugly construction with wasted space everywhere. The offices inside are unattractive, cramped and crammed, shoddily & quickly thrown together with very little idea of what is needed by human working lifers.
Same with 51 Lonsdale St, where kitchen cupboards have no bottom shelf, instead opening to exposed floor! Take care opening kitchen drawers - the drawer front can come off in yr hand - with handle attached if lucky. Exposed beams coated in grease, grime & dust - great for staff health issues/allergies as this stuff creeps through the air. #51 had to evacuate when every toilet became blocked at the same time. Frequently, workers have to use toilets on other floors, when their Toilets are 'Out of Order' for 1-2 days at a time. It's true - I was there.
Many state govts specialise in fast & ugly buildings at the expense of our beautiful and significant heritage, in order to show how 'active' they are to voters & justify their lamentable existence. Look at the 'winner' of the redesign Flinders Street Station competition. Hopefully, Melburnians will raise hell if that winning entry is ever attempted - it is utterly ugly, heartless, and a nasty, unnecessary waste of space, which the people of Victoria do not want and have already stated so.
by fluffynut (score: 2|917) 2080 days ago
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