When we think of Melbourne's Central Business district, we think of tall buildings, busy roads, trams and people. We see hundreds of little shops, cafes and eateries spread around, but have we neglected to notice the weird underbelly of Melbourne? That's right, even the worlds most liveable city has its fair share of the weird and wonderful. They are around every corner, transparent to those who do not carefully look around, or see what is happening next to them. The fact is that these little cult places and objects are hidden in the crevasses of our fine city. All you need to do to find these un-orthodox sites is to look beyond the exterior. Take a short walk from Flinders Street Station and the journey will begin.
The first place of interest for the tourist looking for something different isn't at ground level but below. What is now known as Hearn's Hobby's, is home to a little guy affectionately known as super monkey. To the thousands of people who pass the little guy every day, only a handful would actually know that he even existed. He has been sitting in the window down there, neglected by the public while his talents of being a super hero are going to waste. But for the small price of $15 you could have super monkey protecting your own toilet door.
Noticing Hearne's Hobbies in the lower part of Flinders street made me think what this place was in the past? Was it an exocentric, recluse business man's apartment? Or was it an exotic pet store? When walking the streets of Melbourne it's best to let your imagination run wild.
Directly across the road from Hearne's Hobbies is a little tattoo parlour that has more than what meets the eye. For a mere $60 you can be the proud owner of what seems to be a preserved alien foetus. At further inspection, the shop trades in a number of occult objects and heavy metal paraphernalia. There are more of these dark objects for sale across the road at Metal Mayhem, which is also below the streets surface.
If you are in need of an imagination work out, take a stroll down one of the many ally ways which the city is home to. All of the senses can get a work out in the ally ways if you use your imagination. A number of ally ways have quite a pungent aroma which resonates between the buildings. What are these smells? Are dead bodies decomposing? Is it simply the smell of left overs from the restaurant from three nights ago? It's most likely just going to be the smell from the kitchens of the restaurants but why can't we imagine? After all it was only around the corner we saw the alien in the jar. Besides, the dark ally ways are home to live rats, mice and pigeons which feast on the food scraps from the restaurants. The walls are tattooed with graffiti which can be quite inspiring and amazing. It is much cheaper and more interesting than going to an art gallery. If you feel hungry there are some ally ways that house their own food merchants. For $2 you can buy a delicious Belgian waffle. If you listen carefully in the ally's you can hear people talking. Once again you use your imagination to interpret what they are saying and maybe you will uncover Melbourne's gangland secrets. It is all there for you to discover!
Melbourne even has a seedy side, with a number of adult entertainment centres available for the sociably awkward. Many dark anonymous characters visit these places each day. One gentleman was seen to enter at 10:45 am, which begs a lot of questions, but may be to disturbing for this article. Everywhere these gentlemen clubs lurch with there bright lights and the extensive use of the letter X.
Once again we dive underneath the earth's surface to enter the city's network of underground tunnels which make up the city loop train line. Thousands of people pass through the city loop each day, but how many of them think about how big the system is? How many tunnels are there? How far are they from the road above? Are there any inhabitants in these tunnels? These are all things that you should think about when you are in there.
Of course being the states major city, I would assume that it would create the most waste in Victoria. I want to know where it goes. There are thousands of garbage bins in the CBD - are these the take away points for the homeless and poor? What creatures infest them by night?
Through Tourists Eyes
Each year my Year 12 English class and I go on a Wild Mystery Writing Tour. This year we went into the Melbourne Central Business District with a tour guide and looked at our own city through the eyes of a tourist. Each student had a camera and a theme and they were each surprised to discover pockets that they had never visited before. Koko's Chocolate Bar and The Mingary were amongst the 'best find' awards. A chance meeting with Kramer, on the steps of Flinders Street Station was a highlight for my tour guide and I.
Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station. We have all passed through it at one point or another and some of us pass through it on a daily basis. But have any of us actually stopped and really looked at it? If you have, you will realise that Flinders Street Station is not just another train station. It is one of Melbourne's best known icons and an attraction that many tourists regard as the creme de la creme of Melbourne architecture.
The building stretches from Swanston Street to Queen Street, covering two city blocks. Each weekday, approximately 105,ooo commuters and 1,500 trains pass through the station. The stairs under the clocks are the popular meeting place for Melbournians. The clocks are located above the station's main entrance and they indicate the departure time of the next train on each line.
The history behind Flinders Street is also quite remarkable. The first railway building to occupy the Flinders Street site was simply called Melbourne or City Terminus and was a collection of weatherboard train sheds. This first station was completed in 1854 and was officially opened on September 12 by Lieutenant Governor Sir Charles Hotham. The Terminus was the first steam rail station in Australia, and the opening day saw the first public steam train trip in the country's history. Melbourne's two other city-central stations, Spencer Street Station and Princes Bridge Station was later moved to the Flinders Street site across the road.
In 1889 a world wide competition was held for the design of the new Flinders Street Station. Seventeen entries were received. The 500 pound first prize went to J.W. Fawcett and H.P.C. Ashworth who came up with the concept of a gian dome and clock tower. The building beagn in 1901 and ended in 1910.
But perhaps the most interesting fact of all is that Platform No 1 is the longest platform in Australia and is the fourth longest platform in the world. Pretty amazing!
So next time you walk through the station or
stand under the clocks on the stairs think about all the history our wonderful
Flinders Street Station possesses.
With Kramer - Flinders Street Station
Pack a lunch, grab a camera and a notebook and head off into your local environment and look at your place through tourist eyes. Please send me any subsequent reports to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will publish them off this page at Soul Food.
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