Two things have come together for us, just at the right time.
Firstly, our virus restrictions have been significantly removed. For the last thirty nine days, we have had no new cases of coronavirus in Victoria and Australia is now virtually virus free. The only cases that exist are those of returned overseas travellers and they are all confined in strict quarantine. Touch wood, we can now continue to go about our lives with some normality. Of course, there are still protective regulations such as maintaining social distance and reduced numbers of people in venues that could be crowded, but these are going to be the new normal.
Secondly, we are coming up to Christmas. I think that everyone is looking for something that will brighten their lives so Christmas trees and decorations have been set up a little earlier than usual. There are some attractive decorations and illuminated buildings in the CBD and last night I, and my friend Steve, spent a few hours after dark doing some photography.
This is the colonnade of the old GPO. It has now been repurposed as a boutique shopping centre butI can remember the days when you lined up at counter no. 5 to buy stamps and counter no 8 to purchase a money order. Somewhere else, you could send a telegram.
At first, it wasn’t quite dark enough for the lights to stand out but we were able to get something of a shot of the sun setting along Flinders Street, past the railway station .
Federation Square has a number of large Christmas ornaments, even though about half of the outdoor area of the square is currently covered with construction buildings as a new underground railway is being constructed.
Flinders Street Station, which serves the suburban railway system of Melbourne has recently been renovated and is now lit up in all of its splendour. The station’s current main building was completed in 1909 and is a cultural icon of Melbourne.
The first ever station on the site opened in 1854 and was merely a collection of weatherboard sheds. The Melbourne Terminus, as it was known, was the first steam rail station in Australia. In 1902, a competition was held for the design of this new building. Work got underway, and was completed in 1910 at an estimated cost of 514,000 pounds. The concourse fronts onto Swanston Street end, and ramps drop down to the platforms. The famous clocks under the arch were part of the original design and remain in almost exactly the same spot as they were first placed. They have always been a popular meeting place for Melbournians.
Melbourne Town Hall is a magnificent heritage building in the heart of the city. An early town hall building was completed in 1854 and demolished in the mid 1860s. This new building was completed in 1870. This was the era of Victoria’s gold rush and many grand buildings, including this one, were constructed around a time when Melbourne was one of the most affluent cities in the world.
On 29 November 1867 the Duke of Edinburgh laid the foundation stone for the town hall and the building was officially opened by the Governor of Victoria on 9 August 1870. The tower was named Prince Alfred’s Tower after the Duke of Edinburgh. He was the first official guest in the soon-to-be-completed town hall.
Like other buildings around the world, the building is illuminated with projected images that highlight the building’s features.
The State Library of Victoria is another of Melbourne’s grand buildings. It is another gold rush era building. Similar to the town hall, it is illuminated by projected images that alternated between Christmas decorations and a tribute to those that have served the community during the Covid-19 virus outbreak.
Established in 1854 as the Melbourne Public Library, the State Library Victoria is Australia’s oldest public library and one of the first free public libraries in the world. The library is a magnificent 19th-century building with some of the city’s most beautiful heritage interiors. A special highlight is the LaTrobe Reading Room, with its majestic octagonal domed ceiling.
Although not a Christmas scene, one of the photos that I have always wanted to shoot is a view down Chinatown in Little Bourke Street. I have seen it on many occasions on Instagram and other photography sites. The shot is taken from an upper floor of a car park building in Russell Street. After a little confusion, we found the lift in the corner of the building and rode it to the vey dark sixth level to take this picture of Little Bourke Street.
Established in the 1850s during the Victorian gold rush, our Chinatown is notable for being the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World and the oldest Chinatown in the Southern Hemisphere. Melbourne’s Chinatown has played an important role in establishing the culture of Chinese immigrants in Australia, and is still home to many Chinese restaurants, cultural venues, businesses and places of worship.
The Bourke Street Mall was lit with an overhead display of LED lights and stars that changed colour and showed different patterns along the entire length of the street.
During the Marvellous Melbourne era of the gold rush, Bourke Street was the location of many of the city’s theatres and cinemas. Today it continues as a major retail shopping precinct with the Bourke Street Mall running between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets. Two of Australia’s largest department stores – Myer and David Jones are located on this pedestrian walkway. Bourke Street’s is always lively and busy, hence the term “Busier than Bourke Street” which is a popular colloquialism denoting a crowded or busy environment. It is named after the Irish-born British army officer Sir Richard Bourke, who served as the Governor of New South Wales from 1831 and 1837 at which time Victoria was attached to that colony.
Our final stop for the night was back at the Post Office – another gold rush era colonial building. A post office was first established in Melbourne on 13 April 1837, but it would not be until 1841 that a permanent post office building would be erected on the site of the present GPO.
This building is historically significant as one of the foremost public buildings in Victoria, both architecturally and as the centre of postal communications for the Colony of Victoria. It formed the conduit of communication with other colonies, and the United Kingdom, the birthplace of most 19th century Victorians. It retained this central postal role for much of the 20th century, along with telegraphic and telegram functions. The surrounding steps and clock tower are city landmarks and have prominently featured in meetings, protests, and Armistice Day and New Years Day celebrations over the years.