Melbourne is one of our two, week long city explorer programs. The other program being Adelaide. These are small group tours for mature and senior travellers, couples and singles interested in Colonial history of the two centuries. They form part of a collection of Australian learning tours.
Small group of Melbourne
MARVELLOUS MELBOURNE 1854 to 1891 – A STUDY TOUR
Melbourne, 1880: 'The richest city in the world.'
From Odyssey Traveller this small group with like minded people in a small group of of up to 12 people. Based in we enjoy a collection to explore 's history with your and knowledgeable local guide via the labyrinth of the that are a collection of parallel streets to the main thoroughfares and how these stories come to life on your . of is offered to mature and senior travellers intersted in spending a week on a
This, like all Odyssey Traveller small group tours is limited to 12 people.
When the British journalist George Augustus Sala visited in 1885, he gave it a moniker that stuck: 'Marvellous ' . The was in the midst of an almost four-decade long golden era. In the 1850s, had seen phenomenal growth thanks to the Victorian gold rush. The boom continued with the land and property boom of the 1880s. At one point, was the second biggest in the British Empire, after London, and in 1880, was proclaimed 'The richest in the world'.
The remnants of 's golden age define the today. Unlike the heritage areas of Sydney (such as the Rocks), which generally date back to the Georgian era, Victorian defines the look and feel of the today. Great buildings, arcades and residences of later Victorian solidity and grace can be seen everywhere within the great 'square mile' of 's tram circuit. Walking through the ornate Block Arcade, or looking up at the grand Parliament House, it's easy to imagine yourself among the elegance and bustle of boom town .
On this of , you will enjoy five days of a mixture of presentations, discussions or a guest speaker each morning, to prepare us for a of visiting important and iconic venues in the development of Marvellous .
An Odyssey Traveller is a small group designed especially for seniors, for mature travellers who want an in-depth and authentic experience of their chosen destination. Since 1983, we have specialised in bringing travellers to the world: now, our goal is to enable you to rediscover your own country on a of each for a week to ensure all the are seen.
Historic tours of Melbourne:
Though a penal station had been established at Sullivan Bay (near the present-. Rather suspiciously, Batman had been accompanied by a group of Aboriginal people from Sydney - who couldn't speak a word of the local language - and the contract appeared to have been signed several times by the same man, 'Jaga Jaga', possibly one of the Aboriginal people brought from Sydney. Despite its exploitative nature, Batman's contract was the only attempt in history to engage Aboriginal people in a transaction or treaty, rather than claim land outright. beach suburb of Sorrento) in 1803, European settlement of began in earnest in 1835, when John Batman, a grazier from Van Diemen's Land, claimed to have broken a contract with the local Kulin people, granting him hectares of land near the
Two months afterwards, a party led by a publican from Launceston, John Pascoe Fawkner, settled on the banks of the . Batman and Fawkner soon engaged in a ruthless bidding wars over the allotment of new land in the colony. Though Batman arrived first, Fawkner is widely regarded as the founder of , as he lived to shape the 's early history as a hotel owner, newspaper man, and politician. Batman, in contrast, died of syphilis in financial disarray, at the age of 38 in 1839.
The new settlement was given the name 'Hoddle Grid. Robert Hoddle, the Surveyor-General, was disturbed by the chaos he had encountered at the new settlement, and laid out a plan for what is now the CBD, straight lines intersecting straight lines in a grid. One of the anchors for this grid is a major thoroughfare in the centre of , . It is one of the main streets of the central business district and was laid out in 1837 as part of the original Hoddle Grid, that included Collins st, Flinders st, La trobe st and Spencer st that we explore as part of this .' to honour the then-Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Lord . became a town in 1842 and a in 1847. Though growth was (relatively) slow, this early period gave the a feature that continues to define it today: the
The discovery of gold near in August 1851, followed by discoveries near Castlemaine (September 1851) and Bendigo (October 1851) transformed . In an increasingly interconnected world, news of the find spread around the globe, and immigrants descended on from Ireland, China, Germany, the United States and Great Britain, looking to make rich on the goldfields.
Thanks to its central position in was able to capture the increased trade stimulated by the Gold Rush. The 's population reached 80,000 in 1854 and 140,000 by 1861. Wealth from the goldfields and rapid population growth spurred a boom in building, with the Treasury Building, the State Library, Town Hall, and key parts of the University of all built during the 1850s and 1860s. Such was the phenomenal growth and impact of the period, that it took only 10 months in 1856 for the parliament to be planned and built, a three-storey bluestone structure of monumental proportions. and port facilities,
The Gold Rushes transformed . Between 1851 and 1871, the colony's population quadrupled, rising from 430,000 people to 1.7 million. Migrants from around the world brought new democratic ideas to , which culminated in the Eureka Stockade of 1854. Soon afterwards, public opinion brought about a number of social experiments, including universal (male) suffrage, the secret ballot, and the eight hour . From a remote penal colony, became a prosperous society, with a standard of living that was the envy of the world.
's wealth shaped the history of more broadly. The state was able to fund the expedition of Burke and Wills , who were the first to cross in their wake opened much of interior to European settlement. from north to south, over land. While Burke and Wills's expedition was a tragic failure, the rescue missions that followed out of
would reach the pinnacle of its wealth and prestige in the 1880s. It had overtaken Sydney as 's most populous in 1865; in the 1880s, with a population of 445,000, it was the second largest in the British Empire, and bigger than most of Europe's capitals.
In 1880, projected its civic pride as the host of the International Exhibition. Beginning with the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, for which the famous Crystal Palace was built, international exhibitions allowed host nations to display their technological advances and inventions. Attracting vast numbers of visitors to their exhibits, they epitomised the rapid industrial growth and optimism of the Victorian Era. 's exhibition - following a smaller agricultural show in Sydney in the previous year - was the first internationally recognised exhibition hosted in the Southern Hemisphere, attracting over 1.3 million visitors. The Exhibition Building (now the Royal Exhibition Building) was built in Carlton Gardens for the event, a grand structure in the style of the European exhibition halls, drawing inspiration from German, French, and Florentine styles.
The Exhibition Building would host the Centennial Exhibition in 1888, celebrating the founding of European settlement in Sydney in 1788. One of the few remaining Victorian exhibition halls, the Royal Exhibition Building and surrounding Carlton Gardens received UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2004, the first building in to do so.
In the 1880s, the long boom culminated in a frenzy of property investment known as the 'land boom'. The price of land in accelerated - reaching in 1889, the same value as areas in central London. In , huge sums of money were poured into opulent office buildings - many for the building societies, banks, and mortgage companies that were driving the boom. Many buildings reached 12 stories high, unseen outside of London, New York and Chicago. New buildings were covered in cast iron lace - at the time derided by architecture critics such as John Ruskin - with 'iron petticoats' on virtually every balcony and veranda in the .
New buildings built in this period reflect the luxurious consumer society that the land boom enabled, coffee palaces, shopping arcades, and theatres. Highlights include St Paul's Cathedral (1880-1891), the Block Arcade (1891), the Hotel Windsor (1883), Her Majesty's Theatre (1886), and the Princess Theatre (rebuilt 1886). Much like today, was considered the fashion capital of . Though women were too fond of bright colour, complained one observer, 'it can never be complained against them that they are dowdy - a fault common to their Sydney, Adelaide, and English sisters.' 'Doing the Block' - promenading on the area of Collins Street around the Block Arcade - was an opportunity for 's well-to-do, men and women, to show off their finery.
The 1880s also saw become host to the first telephone exchange in , and saw the beginnings of the iconic tramway network. The first tram track operated along Flinders Street to Richmond in 1885. Within five years, over 65 kilometres of tram tracks were linking and the inner suburbs, with driving power for underground cables coming from engine-houses along each route. By 1916, the trams carried more than a hundred million passengers each year. Unlike most cities world wide (including the other capitals) did not dismantle its tram system in the post-World War II era, and the historic trams remain an important way of getting around the .
Culturally, 'Marvellous ' was far more active and sophisticated than its rival, Sydney. European musicians visited the regularly, many drawn for the 1880 and 1888 exhibitions. In the 1880s, was the home of 's impressionist movement, the Heidelberg School, who drew inspiration from life and the coast and countryside surrounding - easily accessible through the suburban rail network - to develop a uniquely form of art.
Sadly, the Golden Age could not last forever. In 1891, the property bubble crashed, and was plunged into its worst depression yet. The depression transformed the . Though statistics are unreliable, unemployment was likely around 20%, and one in ten families had their property foreclosed upon. 's population remained stagnant, and by 1905, Sydney had once again overtaken it as 's biggest .
Tour Melbourne with Odyssey Traveller:
On Odyssey Traveller's new small group Melbourne tour, you can see how the years 1854-1891 continue to define the city. Bluestone here, concrete there, brick and neon, ornate exteriors then sheer glass in the canyons that are Melbourne’s streets and lanes.
This course takes you there and beyond in special ways. We stay in the renowned Hotel Windsor (1883), the grandest hotel in Marvellous Melbourne, allowing you to immerse yourself in the elegant world of the late 19th century. From our hotel you can almost reach out and touch Parliament House (1856). Across the road stands the opulent Princess Theatre (1857), a haunting reminiscence of the Paris Opera and an early home of the Old Vic Theatre Company. The Old Treasury Building (1858-62), where they kept the gold, is less than one block away.
And this is just the beginning.
We can walk to the nearest attractions so close and hop on and off the historic Circle Tram to take us around and through the many points of interest.
Articles about Melbourne and Victoria published by Odyssey Traveller:
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Melbourne:
- Marvellous Melbourne
- Galleries: Marvellous Melbourne
- Culture Victoria: Built Environment
- The history of housing bubbles
- Australian Impressionism: Insights
- Melbourne exhibitions 1854-1889
- The Royal Exhibition building of 'Marvellous Melbourne': a history of cities in 50 buildings, day 10
Check IN at the Hotel Windsor, .
The Windsor is only steps away from ‘s luxury boutiques, theatres and the Fitzroy and Carlton Gardens are just a short walk away. Your accommodation is an essential feature of ‘Marvellous ‘. Look around or enjoy the renowned afternoon tea.
In the evening, meet with your program leader () for a briefing then join the group for your Odyssey Welcome Dinner.
Accommodation: Hotel Windsor
After breakfast, we convene for an introduction and a session presenting and discussing aspects of the history that gave rise to Marvellous . We break for Morning Tea before completing the introductory session.
In the late morning our begins. We set off on a for the Old Treasury, The Parliament and the Princess Theatre. We lunch as we please at a local restaurant such as The Society Restaurant (1900).
We ride the Historic Circle Tram around to Flinders Street Station (1909) and stand ‘under the clocks’ taking in the features, stories and attractions of this historic meeting place.
With a promise to return, you are free to enjoy the attractions of the immediate vicinity such as the Yarra Bank.
Dinner at a local restaurant by private or group arrangements.
Accommodation: Hotel Windsor
Following the morning History presentations and discussion, we head to the Royal Exhibition Buildings, the Museum and its Story Exhibit a short walk or tram ride away.
We lunch as we please at a local restaurant such as Pelligrinis.
In the afternoon we immerse ourselves deep into ‘s history with a visit and of the Old Gaol where Ned Kelly was hanged (1880). This is followed by a visit to the State Library with its magnificent Domed Reading Room.
Accommodation: Hotel Windsor
Following the morning presentations and discussion, we then have a in on its original site – St Peter’s Eastern Hill (1846) and it is ‘just over the fence’ from Parliament. to visit the oldest Anglican Church
Directly opposite is the Roman Catholic Cathedral, St Patrick’s (1858), an inspiring gothic revival from the tip of its soaring spires to the intricate tessellation of its paved floors.
We lunch as we please at a local restaurant such as The European.
You are FREE in afternoon to relax. Maybe you see the National Gallery, the cricket ground Sports Museum and , the Shrine of Remembrance or take a River Cruise or take the tram to St Kilda and head over to Toorak and then to absorb the of .
Accommodation: Hotel Windsor
Following the morning presentations and discussion, we take a leisurely stroll down the Paris end of Collins Street to the heart of and its arcades, the and hidden secrets of where old meets new, often in the form of . We follow in the footsteps of Melbournians in the golden era who “Did the Block” from Elizabeth to Swanston Streets.
We lunch as we please at a local restaurant along Collins Street.
Our returns to the familiar Flinders St intersection to visit St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral (1891) and/or enjoy afternoon tea with “Chloe” at Young and Jacksons (1861).
Accommodation: Hotel Windsor
We meet in the foyer after an early breakfast for a briefing before tramming it to the Queen Market (1878). The Queen Market has seen many transformations but still maintains the charm and bustle that cries out Marvellous and as an attraction holds a significant place in history as our nation’s most iconic fresh produce market.
An historic landmark spread over two blocks, it is a vibrant inner- market where you can shop at over 600 small businesses for everything from fruit and vegetables, local and imported gourmet foods, clothing and souvenirs. We have a talk from a local guide who shares ‘s history of this market.
Lunch as you go.
In the afternoon we visit the Immigration Museum.
The Immigration Museum is located on Flinders Street in the Old Customs House displaying ‘s immigration history and helps us trace Marvellous through the influx of arrivals seeking a new life, commerce, gold and settlement especially in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The building in fact occupies the site of one of the first buildings in the , Fawkner’s Hotel, built in 1835 by John Pascoe Fawkner, one of the founders of .
Accommodation: Hotel Windsor
Overview: After Breakfast we say farewell to Marvellous Melbourne and each other as the Study Tour ends.
What’s included in the tour.
- 6 nights accommodation.
- 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 3 dinners.
- Transport by modern and comfortable coach.
- Entrances and sightseeing as specified.
- Services of Tour Leader for the duration of tour
- Detailed Preparatory Information
What’s not included in our Tour
- Return Domestic airfares.
- Airport/Hotel transfers.
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as telephone calls and laundry