Yesterday I brought my sister and her friend from Philadelphia for a tour of Melbourne from a semi-insider. I must admit, while travelling with my little girl was trying at times, I fell in love again with Melbourne CBD.
Studying here almost 10 years ago, I would walk the streets of Melbourne almost daily, dealing with loneliness and other things. For those of you who don’t know, the Melbourne CBD is contained within a small, walkable grid. So I would walk the grid. Ten years on, and so much has changed… and yet so little.
An historic city of such diverse lifestyles, almost contained in streets. Collins St, the business, high fashion street. Bourke Street, the shopping strip. King Street, the gentleman club strip. Russell Street, Asian grocery and eateries. Little Bourke, Chinatown…
But for today I want to focus on the little arcades Melbourne is famous for… mainly concentrated between Bourke and Collins Sts. If you allow yourself to be dazzled by popular brands along the streetfronts, you might actually miss these almost hidden pathways filled with quaint shoplets and their exquisite seductions.
There’s a store only selling thousands upon thousands of Babushkas, aptly named Babushka, in the Royal Arcade. One of its neighbours is Koko Black, a tiny chocolate cafe offering decadent chocolate drinks, sweets and truffles. Block Arcade boasts some gorgeously decorated places as well, like the simple, tiny tiny French Jewel Box, selling only the best antique French jewellery…
or Hopetoun Tea Rooms at the Block, an Alice in the Wonderland type cafe, with rich Kelly greens hugging the walls and swaths of green fabric hanging from the ceiling.
And then at the epicentre of these arcades are these beautiful high domed centres… you might forget to view the architecture while being dazzled by beautiful wares… like in the Block Arcade.
Ancient mosaic tiles on the walls, the floors of the arcades, high ornate ceilings, super ornate brackets and signs… Contrasted by super modern, super beautiful glassware in the super white, bright store.
I’ll stop here for today with the Melbourne GPO (General Post Office) which suffered a fire in 2001. Business relocated next door but because the GPO was a landmark, heritage listed building, it was painstakingly restored and is a swanky upper-market shopping mall.