The Greenie Tour run by Wayward Wanders aims to "lead you on a social and environmental discovery through Melbourne and discusses why we are a world leader in many areas of sustainability and innovation, yet drastically require improvements in others."
So we recently set off to meet our guide Liam in Federation Square to check it out.
Liam from Wayward Wanders (photo from their website)
First stop, we headed down to Birrarung Marr. Opened in 2002, the name means 'river of mists' and 'river bank' in the language of the Wurundjeri people who inhabited the area when the Europeans settled in Melbourne. At this point, it was important to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of The Kulin Nation as the original custodians of the land we were walking on and pay respects to elders past, present and future.
By the Yarra - Birrarung Marr (photo from Website)
Interesting to hear about how the design, landscaping and plants were chosen and to learn that there are huge underground water tanks installed. Liam also spoke a little about the Yarra and what it would have been like when European settlers first landed and the people who were living there. He also spoke about the problems with pollution and rubbish in our rivers. It's sad that those rubbish traps are necessary and that so many people still think nothing of throwing stuff into the river. Cigarette butts and plastic bottles being the major culprits.
After that, it was a stroll through Federation Square and discussion on the site's history, the architecture and some of its sustainable features. The passive air-conditioning system used is a fabulous feature, along with the fact that there are bee hives on the roof and 88 water tanks underneath. If you would like to know more about Federation Square, they run free tours that depart daily, Monday to Saturday at 11am. No need to book, just turn up on time.
On to Council House 2 (CH2), which you've probably seen (240 Little Collins Street) many times but never stopped to actually take a look at. It was the first building in Australia to be awarded a six star green star design rating when it was completed in 2006. Some great initiatives around water conservation, energy generation, heating and cooling systems, and its energy saving windows and those wooden shutters that open and close. With one side covered in plants, it really is a stunning building, so next time you're nearby, stop and take a look up and around it.
Time to jump on a tram and head to Fitzroy. On the way, Liam spoke about the "Green Your Laneway" program and the interesting "Cooling our City" initiatives and Melbourne's commitment to the Paris Climate agreement to help limit global warming. The goal is to plant 3000 trees in Melbourne every year. A worthy goal.
We then enjoyed a very pleasant stroll around Fitzroy checking out a few community gardens, stopping for a coffee and visiting a couple of social enterprise shops including Beekeeper Parade and the enthusiastic 'Koky' whose mission is to "create products that change the world". Their involvement in helping Cambodian children is admirable and their products are pretty funky too.
Melbourne can be very proud of all the amazing street art we have and there is a particularly vibrant street art culture around Fitzroy. Liam was more than happy to show us around some of his favourite spots and there was plenty of time to take some great photos.
We were also impressed by Fitzroy's Town Hall. Gorgeous classical Victorian building that has been beautifully restored. Didn't get to go in as it was a Sunday, but it is open during the week if you would like to take a peek inside. Just across the road in Whitlam Place is an interesting sculpture "Courage" by William Eicholtz. It's of a man removing the Cowardly Lion costume (Wizard of Oz) whilst standing on a disco floor (that lights up at night) whilst looking at a medal for 'courage'. Eicholtz said it aimed to "commemorate and recognise the LGBTI communities courage to be themselves." There is also a plaque dedicating it to the legacy of Ralph McLean who was Australia's first openly gay Lord Mayor. An important reminder that we should all have the courage to be ourselves.
From there we set off for a 40 minute stroll along Merri Creek, chatting with Liam answering any questions we had. Our final stop was at CERES Community Environment Park. I've been here a few times and always find it amazing that such a place exists so close to the city. Had never really checked out the Permaculture & Bushfood Nursery and that was really interesting.
Overall, a fabulous tour and 4 hours well spent playing tourists in our own city. Liam was friendly and knowledgeable and more than happy to chat about anything we were interested in. Would certainly recommend it to locals and visitors alike.
The Greenie Tour is $50 per person and runs on a Thursday in 2019. Like them on Facebook, as they had a special deal on when we booked. Wayward Wanders also run a 3 - 4 hour Alternative Tour which visits Fitzroy and Collingwood and shows a side of Melbourne many people miss. Check out this earlier Weekend Notes article for more information on Wayward Wanders.