Introducing our first virtual tour — Melbourne’s Great Gold Rush Buildings

By 1 May 2020 May 5th, 2020 No Comments

We wanted to create the fun and interactive experience of being on one of our tours, but without the need to leave your home. Live events can be difficult to schedule, and we didn’t feel that simply recording our guides talking to the camera replicated the feel of our tours.  That’s why today we’re introducing an interactive experience that brings you to the heart of the cities we love. 

Join Melbourne tour guides Lucy & John as they reveal the best of the city’s stunning architecture. This online tour isn’t just fascinating, it’s interactive, asking you to take part as you chat with your hosts, view historic photos and take part in interactive polls. 

It was the best of times, it was the…well, even bester of times. It’s hard to overstate how fabulously wealthy Melbourne was in the 1880s. By then, the city had enjoyed three decades of riches from the Victorian Gold Rush. As money started to pour in, so did people, and the city exploded in population from a minor British outpost to a city of hundreds of thousands. 

Just like rich people for all of time, Melbourne wanted to flaunt its ridiculous wealth and flaunt it did. With buildings like the Princes Theatre, Victorian Parliament and the Royal Exhibition Centre, Melbourne flexed its financial muscles, erecting pristine examples of gold rush architecture to welcome government and culture, respectively. 

The Victorian Parliament started as a colonial government that welcomed iconic figures such as Peter Lalor, the leader of the Eureka Rebellion who later became Speaker of the House. He would have visited at a time when the parliament looked markedly different though. When originally constructed, the building was divided onto either side of Bourke Street. Only later did they fill in the gap with the grand Victoria Hall which sits there today. The building was planned with a colossal dome on the top, but it was never completed due to the Land Crash of 1892. Had it been completed, it would have looked like our next building…

The Royal Exhibition Centre. This building was purpose-built for what we now have come to know as “The World’s Fair.” Built at a time when travel was long and arduous, the Royal Exhibition Centre both welcomed to the world, and played the part of the world as countries of the globe sent delegations to represent them, and fascinated Australians could put on their Sunday best and traipse from exhibit to exhibit as they travelled the world from Melbourne.

This is a production of Walks 101, Melbourne’s largest walking tour company. Since 2017, they’ve been welcoming guests from around the world to Melbourne and Sydney, primarily through their Free Walking Tours and Uncover Hidden Laneway Bars tour. Their Free Walking Tour operates on a tips-only basis and supports the livelihoods of over a dozen guidies. The Hidden Bar Tour is an exciting jaunt into the city to explore the best of its speakeasies. 

Now with digital events, Walks 101 opens up for a global audience. New digital tours coming out twice weekly. 

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John is our owner-operator. After working since 2010 in travel guiding European tours, he started this operation to bring the best of the tours he saw in Europe to Australia.

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