What I learnt on the free Melbourne walking tour 

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 Melbourne walking tour 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.

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href=”https://www.wandermustfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/img_3567.jpg”> 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. For a Melbourne itinerary featuring the gaol click here! 

The Melbourne Gaol is a great place to visit with kids – for more kid friendly Melbourne  travel inspiration check out this guide

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! Discovering these laneways is another great free thing to do in Melbourne and after the tour was finished I headed back to spend more time perusing the art!

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.

I really enjoyed my Free Melbourne Walking Tour and Melbourne impressed me on the whole with the variety of free things to do in the city! 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 and will look for other free tours in other cities!

For more fun things to do in Melbourne click here!

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

Looking for inspiration of what to do in Melbourne with kids, then check out this guide


  1. February 23, 2017 / 11:01 am

    I like the idea of a free tour that you don’t have to book so you can play it by ear depending on weather etc. This one appears to take in a lot of different aspects of the city. Fascinating thought about the train station mix up. I hope that is true as it makes a great story. #farawayfiles

    • February 23, 2017 / 11:50 am

      I know I loved it for those very reasons. Sure the station story is an urban myth but I still love it

  2. February 23, 2017 / 11:38 am

    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

    • February 23, 2017 / 11:51 am

      I hadn’t realised how big street art was in Melbourne and it means you get a fresh sight every day

  3. February 23, 2017 / 7:47 pm

    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

    • February 24, 2017 / 6:47 am

      The trump / putin was definitely a crowd pleaser

  4. February 23, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    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

    • February 24, 2017 / 6:48 am

      I know this company does one in Sydney too so we are going to try it when we go next year

  5. February 24, 2017 / 4:06 am

    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

    • February 24, 2017 / 6:49 am

      I didn’t know that about the us – the flexibility of this was a real draw

  6. February 24, 2017 / 10:33 am

    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

    • February 24, 2017 / 10:38 am

      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

  7. February 27, 2017 / 8:31 am

    What a great way to learn a bit more about Melbourne. I love that it took you to not only Melbourne’s landmarks but also a few more hidden away gems.
    You have inspired me to look into Perth’s free walking tours.

    • February 27, 2017 / 10:02 am

      I really enjoyed it so going to look at doing the Sydney one next yer

  8. February 27, 2017 / 11:12 am

    Wow so many iconic sites and all on a free walking tour. What a wonderful facility to discover. Do lots of the cities offer this? Such a clever idea. #MondayEscapes

    • February 27, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Apparently so! Some in Europe I believe and I know the same company do one in Sydney which I will be going on next year

  9. February 27, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    I’ve just done a walking tour of Bergen – it wasn’t free, but I do think they’re a great way to see a city. I love hte Trump/Putin artwork, and the Matt Adnate picture is just stunning. #MondayEscapes

    • February 27, 2017 / 1:10 pm

      Have you written up Bergen yet? Would love to visit there! I thought the trump artwork was hilarious but the adnate ones are unbelievably skillful

  10. February 27, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    I think walking is the best way to see a city. You can miss a lot when you get public transport or drive. This brought back some good memories of Melbourne. #mondayescapes

    • February 27, 2017 / 2:28 pm

      I agree waking a city is one of my fave things

  11. February 27, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    Will definitely do this! We love free tours (we did one of Berlin last year) and we are looking forward to discovering Melbourne soon! you find out so much more on a walking tour than you would on your own! #mondayescapes

    • February 28, 2017 / 3:34 am

      I’m writing up some more Melbourne posts soon. How long you going for

  12. February 27, 2017 / 10:32 pm

    How refreshing to have a walking tour that is completely free. I definitely think you see so much more when exploring cities whilst on foot #MondayEscapes x

  13. February 28, 2017 / 8:58 am

    Street art in Melbourne is something!! 🙂
    Those free tours are really a good idea, I never thought on going on one, but I’ll surely do!

    • February 28, 2017 / 9:15 am

      It was very convenient for me as it was more flexible to fit around meetings

  14. February 28, 2017 / 12:25 pm

    How amazing is it what you learn when you really take notice of a place you’re walking in, rather than just walking through? Sounds like you had a great guide too which helps. #mondayescapes

    • February 28, 2017 / 5:21 pm

      Yes Laura was fantastic and would recommend her in a heartbeat

  15. February 28, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    What a great way to see the city. I’m heading to Melbourne later this year, so this is so handy. Bookmarking it for future planning. 🙂

  16. February 28, 2017 / 8:18 pm

    This looks like a really fab tour, taking you to a lot of places that I didn’t know about in Melbourne, granted I have only been twice, but I didn’t see the gaol and I didn’t see a possum! Thanks for linking #citytripping

  17. March 1, 2017 / 3:44 am

    I adore Adnate. I think he’s the most talented artist on the globe right now – how he does those eyes with a spray can is beyond me. You certainly covered a lot of ground!

  18. March 1, 2017 / 6:03 am

    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.

    • March 1, 2017 / 10:56 am

      I agree and if you like street art this is the city for you

  19. March 2, 2017 / 5:49 pm

    I do love walking tours and more cities seem to have free ones – easy if you’re not sure if your schedule of the weather, although I’ve not actually done one myself yet. This sounds like a brilliant introduction to the city’s different sides. #citytripping

  20. March 2, 2017 / 8:45 pm

    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

    • March 4, 2017 / 10:13 am

      I can imagine. Not sure how we would handle with Baby in tow but if it is. Free one perhaps you could do in segments

  21. March 4, 2017 / 2:25 am

    I enjoyed reading about your walking tour, with lots of interesting stories. And, how wonderful that you saw a possum on a tree during your walk. #CityTripping

  22. March 4, 2017 / 8:24 am

    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

  23. barjerow
    March 4, 2017 / 10:18 am

    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!

    • March 4, 2017 / 3:51 pm

      Oh no – I’m sure you learnt about things I didn’t

  24. March 4, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    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.

  25. March 5, 2017 / 8:20 pm

    I love the idea of doing a walking tour, especially in such a vibrant city as Melbourne. Such a bonus that it was free and you had such an amazing guide #MondayEscapes

  26. March 8, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    What fascinating walk ad some of that street art is just amazing, Thanks so much for linking up #Mondayescapes xx

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