Sunday, August 13, 2017

A tour of Federation Square

I have posted photos of Melbourne's Federation Square before and you can see them back here.

A couple of months ago R and myself took a free tour of Federation Square. Our guide was a volunteer from the Melbourne Visitor Centre and she was terrific. I thought I knew quite a bit about Fed Square, but there was a whole lot I did not know.

She took us to a viewpoint. On the right of the photo is the eastern shard. Dominating the photo is St Pauls Cathedral. The squat building is the western shard and to the distress of the architects, it was much cut down to size when it was realised that it would block the view of St Pauls from nearby Princes Bridge and from other angles. Our guide asked our opinion as to whether it should have been built as planned. No one thought it should be any larger that it is and I gave my opinion that Fed Square would be better without it altogether. It does house the Melbourne Visitor Centre, but that is below ground level. It is just an open space at ground level, that is a large entrance to go downstairs. Very difficult to take a photo facing into the low winter sun.


Contrary to my belief, these are not sticks to pull and make a rattling noise, well they are, but the noise is the sound of a fire rushing through the dry bushland. They do sound like that when you pull and release them and they clatter together.


The beautiful Kimberly sandstone was formed when the area was underwater eons ago. Unlike the sandstone used in Sydney, its parliament house will dissolve one day, this is hard. It has been used extensively at Federation Square. This wall is nearly art work in itself.


You'll have a better idea if you look at the photos via the link to see a bigger view of Fed Square, but it has been criticised for being unfriendly to people with mobility problems. This is quite so, although everywhere is accessible by lifts. This blue symbol indicated the easiest path to take up the slope of Fed Square. Complainers should visit Europe and they would really know about cobblestones.


These tell an interesting story, and some of them refer to the culture of the local Aboriginal tribe. They are rather difficult to read and take some time to do so.


Lacy knickers for the trees?


The white things are not the trees' flowers.


Atop steps looking across Flinders Street.


Tryptic panels, she called them. Shapes within shapes. SBS offices and studio. It is our second government broadcaster and has a multi cultural focus. Unfortunately it has been forced to become commercial and while not as bad as commercial media, the ads are annoying.


The square can hold 10,000 people, and has done, especially when there is major sporting event on the large screen.



Dear Copperwitch's favourite and very expensive glass shop is somewhere on the left in the atrium. On Sundays an expensive second hand book market fills the space.



This is something I had no idea about. Fed Square is built over railway lines and between the railway lines and the floor is what is called The Labyrinth, tunnels riddling the whole structure. At night in the summer, cool air is drawn into The Labyrinth and the air cools the surrounding concrete and also the cool air is blown out into the building for cool air the next day. The area requires no air conditioning in the summer and excess cool air can be diverted to other areas of Fed Square. The principle is reversed in winter, but some supplementary heating is needed.  There are a few of these timber slatted areas and they are where the air is blown in. As you can see, some thought it was a nice warm spot to sit, and it was.


The tour finished at the river side of Fed Square, an area where few people linger. But lingering is worth it. Have a look up high at the reflections. It was a terrific tour, about 45 minutes I think. Our guide's knowledge was immense and not just about Federation Square.


I chatted to the guide a little after the conclusion of the tour and I mentioned other tours we had taken, such as the Block Arcade and Melbourne Town Hall. Of course she recommended the tour of the branch of the National Gallery of Victoria within Fed Square. But, she said, the tour of the State Library is excellent. Don't miss it, so we won't, one day soon.



You thought I had finished? Not quite. Ingratiatingly I asked our guide if she knew our neighbour HH, who is similarly aged and also works as a volunteer at the Visitor Information Centre. She smiled warmly and said, yes, of course yes,  I know HH........yet there was something in her smile that told me they were not best mates. Don't ask R about HH. I don't mind her though. Down the status ladder of volunteers, some stand on city street corners helping tourists and are identifiable by their red jackets, hence we call them Red Coats. Being a volunteer behind a counter or giving tours are sought after positions, with no pay of course. 

20 comments:

  1. Andrew the second photo is my favourite

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    1. Ah, you like the sticks, Gosia.

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  2. How lovely to find a knowledgeable guide. It really improves any visit.
    And thank you for taking us along. I will be scrolling up and down through the photos for a while...

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    1. EC, I am not sure if we have ever had a bad guide, anywhere.

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  3. Don't think I've noticed the 'red sticks' before. Must open my eyes next time - well at least raise them a bit. Too busy trying not to trip on those beastly ' cobblestones ' ! Were the deck chairs out or is that just in summer?

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    1. Cathy, yes, deck chairs only seem to come out in warmer months. I know what you are saying about the cobblestones, but they do look so beautiful.

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  4. I feel like I've paid a visit to Melbourne and not paid a cent to get there!! So, thank you, Andrew for showing me the wonders of Federation Square.

    Have a great week ahead. :)

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  5. Reading your post made me feel a need to visit Melbourne again. Thoroughly enjoyed revisiting through your photos.

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    1. Marie, I wish you would.

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  6. My office is VERY close, so we can verify that the square can hold thousands and thousands of people, for concerts, royal visits and sporting events. My absolute favourite places in Fed Square are the less crowded floors of the NGV's second gallery, the fabulous bookshop, the outdoor coffee shops etc.

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    1. Hels, yes the bookshop is excellent, and you can find food cheap to expensive. I was initially ambivalent about it, but I have grown very fond of it, and there is so much there to see and do for free. This week, I think, there is a campfire burning, with stories being told.

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  7. It all looks fabulous, and for music you have The Melbourne Ska Orchestra too! Lucky guys.

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    1. Cro, I am not fully versed in ska, but I don't mind it. I've heard of the orchestra.

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  8. It looks like a nice area to wander and look. I had no idea there was such a thing as "hard" sandstone. My daughter's rented residence is sandstone and disintegrating into sand as we speak :( It'll take years...I hope. I like the reflections in the SBS building and that airconditioning solution is genius.

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    1. River, nor did I know about hard sandstone. At least your daughter is renting and not seeing her own money dissolving away.

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  9. Why did I think of Lee Lin Chin as soon as I saw the SBS building, looks a wee bit like one of her outfits 😀 Excellent tour of Federation Square Andrew, looking forward to seeing more of the State Library. Rivalry between the volunteers you think?

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    1. Grace, that thought about Lee Lin did not enter my head. I associate her with Sydney, where she is. As you may know, our State Library is very grand building.

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  10. We did a personalised tour 18months ago with a group of Legographers (Lego photographers... long story...). It was most interesting seeing the labyrinth for the cooling/heating, and the Pop Up Patch (the roof top garden). We did enjoy the look around.

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    1. CM, I have seen the Pop Up Patch from the fence line...ah, maybe that is different to what you saw. It was away from the main buildings and now seems to have disappeared. Aren't there bee hives somewhere there too?

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