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Melbourne Laneways Tour - Drinking History Tours

Home > Melbourne > Art | Food and Wine | Music | Pubs | Walks
by Tricia Ziemer (subscribe)
Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Published January 20th 2019
Laugh, drink, eat and stay fit on Historical Walking Tour
Do you love history? Do you like to taste different wines, beers and other scrumptious alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks? Do you love exotic foods? Do you love a brisk walk and exploring Melbourne?

Next to Beer Deluxe at Federation Square is where your Historical Drinking Tour begins
Next to Beer Deluxe at Federation Square is where your Historical Drinking Tour begins - All Photos by Tricia Ziemer


If you said yes to any of those, then you have won the superfecta and this is the "Drinking History Tour" for you and your friends. This tour would especially suit out of town visitors and guests to give them a great taste of not only the Arts Capital of Australia but lifelong memories of one of the most livable cities in the world. What a great experience to see the hidden treasures of Melbourne City while dining on some of the best food it can offer with an experienced guide. You may get turned around during the tour, but you will never get lost with your guide and you will love every minute. My partner and I have lived in Melbourne most of our lives and we thought we knew our city. How wrong we were!

Ben Oliver Founder of Melbourne Historical Drinking Tours
Ben Oliver Founder of Melbourne Historical Drinking Tours


History Nerd and creative genius Ben Oliver is the Founder of Tour Aficionado and has created a unique historical walking tour of Melbourne that merges all of these elements with a dash of charm and humour. Even with his humble beginnings in Western Australia, Ben has rocketed to the top of the Melbourne Arts Gallery Spire with this innovative tour.

Melbourne Cobblestone Laneways are lined with Alfresco Art
Melbourne Cobblestone Laneways are lined with Alfresco Art


Ben started as a journalist, dabbled as a banker and then added European tour guide to his vast resume. He has visited 192 cities in 43 countries yet openly admits Melbourne is still the best place to live. His guide experience also includes five years of running walking tours in the heart of Melbourne. This idea must have been Ben's passion for Melbourne's laneways, cafes and music scene, blended with an extra strong Pisco Sour, because out popped his brilliant idea of the Drinking History Tour. And it has become a must do in the Melbourne Tour scene. Now you are asking, "What is a Pisco Sour?" Join this tour and you can experience its magic yourself.

More fun than a walking tour, classier than a pub crawl
More fun than a walking tour, classier than a pub crawl
.

With his digital marketing nous, Ben dubs it "More fun than a walking tour, classier than a pub crawl". And that is what it says on your souvenir bright coloured wrist band that also gets you drink discounts. Don't lose it, it lasts and lasts and lasts. I should check if it glows in the dark.

Duke Ellington Melbourne's oldest Pub
Duke Ellington Melbourne's oldest Pub Circa 1850


Ben's catchphrase is "spot on" as this tour is a wonderful blend of learning the history of early Aussies and our continuing love of the local corner pub. We love to pub crawl. And you will also be experiencing the wonderful international taste sensations of modern Australian dining to put froth on the top. Your first and most vital step is to see their website to sign up for a tour as soon as possible at https://drinkinghistorytours.com.

Alfresco Art is on a grand scale
Alfresco Art is on a grand scale


Then pick out your best fashion gear, but make sure your footwear is for comfort, as you will be finding the stunning cobblestone back lanes of our city. You start at Federation Square, an architectural delight in itself, just next to Beer Deluxe. I made sure we went a wee bit early, as my partner wanted a chance to have a sip of a good stout German beer to warm us for the tour. The invite said, "Your tour guide is dressed in a black polo top". I had to chuckle as I sat sipping Aussie bubbles, enjoying the ambiance and watching all the people meander by in a city where the dress code is "black". Luckily our guide Ben was spot on time with a backpack to mark, "This is the tour start spot".

Meet people from all over the world on this special tour
Meet people from all over the world on this special tour


We ended up a wonderfully big group of people from all over Australia and the world. First you get to know each other, have some great laughs, then off you go at a wonderful pace. Then the fun begins as Ben, or one of the other equally talented tour guides, starts to cover the history of the creation of Melbourne and the story of its people and pub history. The architecture you get to see is divine and it is fascinating to learn how it came to be built that way.

Find out about the artist and the artwork from your Guide
Find out about the artist and the artwork from your Guide


People around us stopped to listen in. Your tour guide feeds you "little known" secrets about Melbourne with great Aussie humour. You explore the best street art of the CBD, including the famous Banksy gems. These are rare and wonderful. Don't know who Banksy is?

Spot the famous Banksy
Spot the famous Banksy


Yet another reason to take this awesome tour.

Enjoy alfresco art which includes hints and tips about the best restaurants and pub haunts in the laneways. Write them down and pack them away for a rainy day. You are going to want to come back.

Melbourne's Mens Club
Melbourne's Mens Club


You even find where the tremendously wealthy of Melbourne's men hang out. Your guide helps you discover Australian slang and the meaning of "the shout" and "fair dinkum". My partner and I have lived in Melbourne most of our lives and we've been in and out to theatre and restaurants and galleries, and we thought we knew our city. How wrong we were. This tour is a treat, especially for Melburnians.

Humor meets History in this Fun Tour
Humor meets History in this Fun Tour


The top stop highlight was dinner at Harley House, where the South American cuisine of Peru meets Australian Art Gallery. The restaurant is a cosy underground fusion of authentic and delicious food eaten while you are surrounded by stunning local artworks. Staff were second to none and Pisco Sours are the treat to try. This is your chance.

Food was Fantastic at Harley House
Food, Art and Service was Fantastic at Harley House


The secondary pub stop was at Lily Black's. This was a wonderful in/outdoor alfresco classy pub with exotic drinks that really packed a punch. What wonderful ambience with great music.

Drinks packed a punch at Lily Black's
Drinks packed a punch at Lily Black's


And last stop of the brisk tour was New Gold Mountain, where comfy couches and benches entice you to stay with the bright glow of red lanterns.

Lanterns of the New Gold Mountain
Lanterns of the New Gold Mountain


This pub has actually won the Marion Mahony Interior Architecture Award. Luckily Ben had booked the best spot in the place, as the regulars kept jealousy eyeing off our seats. But we were happily entrenched and in no rush to head off.

Comfy Couches and Great Chats
Comfy Couches and Great Chats


Other bars we, missed but plan to go back for, are Pizza Pizza Pizza (surprises at the back of the pub which intrigues) and the Danish Steakhouse, A Hereford Beefstouw. And there were many more to explore. Put them on your bucket list, but first, you need to put this tour on your bucket list so you can find out all about the rest of the best pubs. Then you can take the second tour of the Fitzroy History Drinking Tour. History has never been more fun. These pubs were whipping up some yummy alcohol-free drinks as well that were taste sensations.

Sneak Peak of China Town
Sneak Peak of China Town


And your last tour challenge is to try to count the number of bike art installations in the most unusual places.

The price of this moving feast is minimal for what it includes at $85 per person and group bookings rates are lower again.

The tour includes a fabulous guide:
3 laneway bar visits
Entrees and Dinner. Vege? Celiac? Paleo? Allergic? No problem!
Drink specials at all bars with your flash wristband
And more hidden pub gems that you will learn about and yearn to come back to

This was such a great event I am putting it onto my "Best Gift to Give to a Friend" list and buying them a Melbourne Historical Tour Gift Voucher. And then I am buying myself a ticket to go again, with them.

Spot the Bike Art around Melbourne
Spot the Bike Art around Melbourne

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*Tricia Ziemer was invited as a guest
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Why? You love history, art, fine food and a wee drink
When: Wednesdays and Saturdays (6pm to 9pm)
Phone: 61-0402-242-982
Where: Federation Square Next to Beer Deluxe
Cost: $85 per person
Your Comment
Great article Tricia! Gathering a group to go and check it out.
by Julia A (score: 2|135) 26 days ago
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