What I learnt on the free Melbourne walking tour 

I love a walking tour but when travelling for business it’s hard to know when you will have the time which is why the free walking tour in Melbourne was so appealing. No need to book just turn up at  either 10:30 or 2:30 daily by the Redmond Barry statue outside of the State library of Victoria.

Starting point by Redmond Barry statue
For those of you, like me, who had never heard of Redmond Barry, I’ll give you a brief overview! Barry is famous in Melbourne because a) he donated his books to form the initial collection of the State Library of Victoria and perhaps more notably in Australia was the judge that presided over the Ned Kelly trial. Interestingly, the library has the famous Ned Kelly suit of armour which can be seen up on the fourth floor of the library. Ned Kelly was the theme that  led us onto the second stop of the tour – The Old Melbourne Gaol.

Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is where Ned Kelly would have spent his final nights. To my non-Australian readers and for those who have seen none of the three films about him – the most recent starring Heath Ledger – Ned Kelly is pretty much Australia’s answer to Robin Hood. He robbed banks for himself but at the same time torched mortgage papers for local farmers. The public loved him and he lives on today as one of Australia’s biggest icons.

After the Gaol we headed to Carlton Gardens, by way of the 8 hour movement monument. The monument celebrates the victory by the trade unions in getting an eight hour working day. The triple 8 on top of the monument signifies 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play and 8 hours of rest. I had no idea that there was movement to get the 8 hour work day let alone that this was first achieved in Melbourne!

I was ecstatic when we reached the gardens as I saw my very first possum! The second Australian wildlife spot of my trip!

Hello Possum!
The walk through the gardens ended at the Royal Exhibition Building. Melbourne’s answer to the Crystal Palace Exhibition Building from London’s Great Exhibition. It is a beautiful building and tours are offered.

Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne
The next stop was at the State Parliament. a beautiful building from the Marvellous Melbourne period. The period after the Gold Boom! Many of Melbourne’s most impressive buildings date from this period.

If the first half of the tour was about the history and politics of Melbourne then the second half was devoted to modern life. So it was onwards to Stevenson Laneway.

Matt Adnate Street Art
Stevenson Laneway was the first art lane way we visited. The lane has a really good permanent pop up bar and also some great art. I hadn’t realised that this was all perfectly legal. Businesses can apply for permits for artists to decorate their walls and it becomes quite the tourist draw!
My favourite was this piece by Matt Adnate. He specialises in portraits especially of Aboriginals – but more on this later!

The second type of lane way we discovered is one of the many coffee lane ways that Melbourne is famed for. Melbourne after all invented the flat white so it is not surprise that they love their coffee culture.

After a brief stroll through the coffee lane way we headed to the second art and in my opinion most impressive lane way. I had strolled down Hosier Street the day before and found that the artworks had already changed! As a Valentine’s Day treat a new work had just popped up! It was one of the groups favourites and with this political satire it is hard not to see why!

Trump and Putin Valentine Street Art Hosier Street
Impressive as this is, my favourite artwork was this other Matt Adnate piece. It is one of his specialist Aboriginal pieces. You can’t really tell from the photograph but the city of Melbourne skyline is reflected in his eyes.

Matt Adnate aboriginal portrait
From Hosier Street we went to Flinders Street Station. I had thought a couple of days before that there was a certain Indian influence to the design and legend has it that the designs for the Melbourne and Mumbai station were switched so each city got the wrong station. I don’t know how true the story is but I can certainly see where the legend came from.

Flinders Street Station
We entered Federation Square from the station and learnt about the modern and unpopular architecture there. The buildings here are meant to look like urban camouflage which I can totally see. I don’t think it is particularly ugly but apparently it is wasn’t so popular when it was built but this could have been due to the overspend!

Federation Square
We crossed the river to the final stop of our our tour at the Melbourne Arts Centre which afforded us great views of the city from across the river.

View across the Yarra River
I really enjoyed my Free Melbourne Walking Tour. We walked around 5km and our guide Laura was extremely knowledgable – this is just the stuff I could remember but she was full of other fun facts! Though the tour is billed as free, the guides make there living through tips. Tours in Melbourne typically cost around $30 a person and I think Laura’s tour was well worth it. I loved this tour because you didn’t have to book in advance. I would recommend this as a must for any visitor to Melbourne!

Have you ever done a free tour? What did you think?

52 thoughts on “What I learnt on the free Melbourne walking tour ”

  1. Great diversity of sites on the tour – thanks for the memory jog of Melbourne – it’s been a long time since I’ve visited. I love the street art and agree that the aboriginal portrait by Matt Adnate is stunning. And the cheeky Valentine’s one amusing as well! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

  2. One of my absolute favourite things about Melbourne is the street art. And you’ve captured some corkers here, especially the Trump/Putin Valentine. #FarawayFiles

  3. How fantastic that you can just turn up it allows some flexibility in planning which is always welcome on a city break – and its free! #bonus!
    Spotting possums in the city what a surprise. This looks a great walking tour I am going to start looking out for them on city breaks. Thanks for sharing with #farawayfiles
    Wherejogoes recently posted…PIZZA PILGRIMS, DEAN ST, LONDONMy Profile

  4. This looks like a great tour! I will do one like this too. I prefer the how these tours are organized in Europe and Australia. Here in the States you have to make reservations (even if it is free). And, if you do not show up, they cancel your other tours (if you have reserved others). #FarawayFiles
    Ruth recently posted…Danube Bend: Day Trip from BudapestMy Profile

  5. yay Melbourne! I love my city so much. You’ve made me a little homesick actually. Did you get to see inside the State Library? The reading room is such a beautiful design. I hadn’t heard the story of the Mumbai/Melbourne train station mix up either. Fascinating! As a passionate Melburnian and one who knows quite a lot about my city’s history and attractions, I think you had an excellent guide who showed you the diversity of my beautiful city. Shame about the grey skies. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles
    Katy recently posted…Faraway Files #19My Profile

    1. Aww thank you. I hadn’t realized you were from Melbourne.

      Yes I did see inside the state library – the tour is really interesting. My guide Laura was a history and politics student and was extremely knowledgeable

  6. I can’t remember much from my visit to Melbourne like 20 years ago – it was a very short visit – all I remembered was it was winter and rainy 🙂 I would love to visit Melbourne again to see its beautiful sights, have read about their interesting street art. Glad that you went on a walking tour – it’s a fabulous to get to know a city from a local perspective.

  7. Wow, I’ve learnt a lot about the city just from reading this post so that free tour was well worthwhile. I haven’t been on any walking city tours yet with my girls as we’ve always opted to self-guide ourselves. It’s just more convenient when we have to sort a lot for toilet breaks, ice creams, tantrums… 🙂 This one sounds brilliant though #MondayEscapes
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…A visit to the world’s largest all year sculpture parkMy Profile

  8. I do love a good walking tour of a city. This one in Melbourne looks good, I have done free ones in San Francisco before too and just tipped well! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes

  9. We went to Melbourne in November and did a city tour by coach! We didn’t see or hear any of this interesting stuff. I wish I’d known about this free walking tour!

  10. Sounds like a fantastic tour, and Melbourne is where I was born, but I hardly remember it as I was still quite young when we moved to Sydney. Thank you for showing us around this beautiful city. I must get back there one day.

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