Monday, September 10, 2012

A Carlton Stroll

Nothing planned and it was a Monday. There had been a vague mention from a friend about a lunch catchup as she had an appointment at The Alfred (hospital) but we had not heard back from her, and it was a too nice day to not go out.

How about seeing the German Garden at the Exhibition buildings R? And then we will go for a walk along Gertrude Street. Plans were made, then the friend called, meet at twelve at such and such cafe near The Alfred. Do you still want to go to town R? It was only ten so we decided we would.

The gates from Rathdowne Street. I assume there was once a fence.

The back of the Royal Exhibition Buildings. No, there is nothing Pisa-ish about the building. More like camera operator error. The REB was built about 1880 as a temporary construction for one of the great 19th century exhibitions.

We were underwhelmed by the German Garden, if this is it. The beds follow the lines of the original beds with the same plantings. Last time I was here, this area was an asphalt bus parking area. The asphalt was removed and an archaeological style dig went ahead, hence the information they knew about the original beds.

The Hochgurtel Fountain built in 1880.

Modern fountains. I think I prefer the older style. During our long drought, all  fountains were switched off and some had security fencing erected around them. It was a pitiful and depressing sight. Many places, like the REB installed undergound water tanks to store water for future droughts, totally unnecessarily as when the desalination plant is operating, there will be more fresh water produced than we can possibly use. With our huge water storages at eighty percent full, it will be years before we even need the desal water.

The French Fountain at the eastern and main end of the REB.

We crossed the road from Carlton to Fitzroy. This is part of the old engine house which powered the cables that dragged our old trams around the city and inner areas.

Fortunately someone has started a Facebook group called 'Lost gay Melbourne' and the information and photos are flowing in but as yet, I have seen nothing about the gay venue The Key Club. I went there once and I guess it closed in about 1990. I am not sure, but I think it was within this building. The Key Club was run by  a woman know as Mamma Seka (unsure of the spelling).

Look at the middle balcony on the right. They have decorated the wall with Volkswagen hub caps. I am sure I  haven't seen that in Vogue Living.

Fitzroy's Gertrude Street oddly has magnolias as its street trees. I've never seen them used for street planting anywhere else. Magnolias are pretty when in bloom, but rather plain when in leaf.


  1. Isn't our Exhibition Building the coolest bit of architecture and landscape gardening? Just about every other structure in every other country built for a World Fair was pulled down. Melbourne's fortunately was built to be permanent.

  2. Colin2:51 pm

    A very good report Andrew.
    I don't think Magnolias are ideal for street trees - a little bit of peace and calm suits them, rather than exhaust fumes from vehicles, which doesn't do them any good.
    If you really associate magnolias with this world, then you have to go back to "Gone With the Wind" and Tara. Sipping mint julips under the trees!
    What other cities in Australia still have Exhibition buildings from the time of the "Empire"?
    The shown gardens look pretty good.
    As for all the water in storage dams now after our drought, seems like it is to be kept?????
    Queensland Rail had a water clearing/spraying shed for trains and staff to clean the exterior of trains. Staff all made redundant or thrown onto the Centrelink mob.
    Now all dams are chocka blog full, but no train cleaning! If you don't believe me come and look, the filthiest trains in the World.
    You are lucky if you can see out of the windows.
    Best to get off my horse - eh?
    Interesting blog.

  3. Hello Andrew:
    We always particularly enjoy your posts which give us further glimpses of Melbourne and this one is certainly no exception. The Royal Exhibition Building is, indeed, most handsome. Perhaps it will be possible to see something of the interior at some point?

  4. I looked at that middle balcony on the right and all I could see were the square yellow things. i thought, that can't be right. Then I spotted the hubcaps.

  5. Hels, it is a very special building and one we should take pride in, and its environs of course.

    Colin, the magnolias have been there for awhile, but I don't think they are good street trees either. The magnolias of the US deep south make ours pale into insignificance. Given where you live, or where I think you live, I am surprised you are knowledgeable about such trees. Sydney trains with perspex like windows are worse than any dirty window.

    JyaLa, it is quite some time since I have been inside the REB, but I recall the interior as been functional.

    River, R noticed them first, but it took me to see them as VW hubcaps. I don't expect you will be decorating the front of your place with hubcaps.

  6. I like your word pisa-ish.

  7. Dina, I really must take more care with the camera. There are far too many leaning buildings and chopped off chimneys and spires.

  8. The annual Motorclassica should be on there next month if you're interested.

  9. RH, I would be if not for the prices that such events charge. We were going to go to an exhibition there a couple of months ago, until we saw it would cost, I think, $27 each.

  10. Yes the Motorclassica is about the same cost and it's too much but last year everyone was given a thick Classica magazine full of cars and some good articles. I guess it was worth about $12.