Virtual Tours

Secrets of the Yarra River

By 4 May 2020 May 7th, 2020 No Comments

Beau presents a video of tour guide Hugo coming to you from sunny Melbourne. With wonderful weather, our guides bring you on a journey of the beginnings of a city that would become the richest in the world just 20 years after settlement.

Starting on the banks of the Yarra River where it all began on Enterprise Wharf, so named after the ship that arrived in 1835 composing on the settlers that were to create the Melbourne we know today. The settlement was originally an illegal one, and massive fees had to be paid in order to continue to grow a village there.

It was all centralised around the banks of the Yarra, which has a few secrets of its own. The river, although healthy today despite its appearance, was treated very poorly by early settlers and was used as a sewage system, with a lot of waste flowing down into the Yarra. Gone today, but something Melburnians did not know is that it use to contain a waterfall that separated the salt water from the fresh water.

Today our beautiful river is most famous for its traditions in one of the four major Tennis Grand Slams in the world. Winners of the Australian Open would traditionally have a dip in the Yarra River, I wonder if modern day stars such as Roger Federer, Serena Williams or Rafael Nadal would dive in?

The Customs House was built on what was just a cabin that processed settlers in the early days of Melbourne. The Customs House became the first stone house of Melbourne. It was then upgraded thanks to the enormous amount of wealth that Melbourne obtained thanks to the Victorian Gold Rush.

It is now home to the Immigration Museum which is homage to the Athenian building’s origin. The story of Melbourne is a story of immigration and as such is one of the most important buildings in Melbourne.

Just across from the Immigration Museum are the Banana Vaults. Nowadays it is home to a nightclub likened to the hidden nightclubs in Berlin. A cacophony of decadent music and darkness, lit up by lasers, smoke machines and the electric sound of music coming from decked out speakers. In present-day it is  home to a 24/7 gym. What dance enthusiasts and pumped-up weight buffs may not know is the origins of the Banana Alley comes indeed from the fruit itself.

Horses and carts would bring produce through to Banana Alley and the Vaults that are on that Alley. Produce would come through from Queensland in horse and carts and later in trains. They were stored in vaults as a home to subterranean cabins before being brought to the markets. Later on they fell into disrepair and became a centre point for crime and homelessness. The revitalisation of these vaults were a key part of keeping the history of Melbourne alive. Still not the prettiest set of buildings the Banana Vaults are again falling into a state of flux. Hopefully we can see another revitalisation.

Beau Stegmann

Beau Stegmann

When Beau isn't working with Walks 101 as a Senior Guide, he's performing as a stand-up comic. His shows have played at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and he's happy to give recommendations about where to go for the best comedy nights in Melbourne.

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