History and heritage go hand-in-hand with designer fashions and ultramodern architecture on Melbourne’s showcase street.
Many of Melbourne’s most charming features come together along Collins Street, the city’s historic financial centre. As well as unrivalled shopping, dining and entertainment, people come here to admire some of the architectural jewels in Australia’s crown.
One of the best introductions to this fascinating heritage is to join one of the Melbourne Architours. These guided walking tours visit some of the principal buildings of interest and explain their diverse architectural styles, from proud Victorian civic buildings and glorious art deco hotels to modern office blocks.
Melbourne Town Hall, on the corner of Swanston and Collins streets, dates from 1870 and was designed by Joseph Reed, the local architect behind the State Library of Victoria and the Royal Exhibition Building. Nearby are three important centres of worship, representing the longstanding cornerstones of Melbourne’s religious life – Collins Street Baptist Church, St Michael’s Uniting Church and the Presbyterian Scots’ Church.
Another nostalgic reminder of historic Melbourne is the Hopetoun Tearooms, where you can indulge your sweet tooth with afternoon tea served in an atmosphere of old-world elegance. This upper end of Collins Street is known as the “Paris End” because of the preponderance of designer-label shops and luxury hotels. If Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari are out of your league, grab a table at one of the pavement cafes and watch a parade of beautiful people against a backdrop of equally beautiful buildings. It’s not hard to understand why visitors have been captivated by this charming corner of Melbourne for over a century.
Trams, which run the length of Collins Street, are the most efficient and cost-effective means of transport, as car parking in this area is expensive and in short supply.