Melbourne, the city that dare not speak its name

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Chloe, a portrait hanging in a prominent pub in Melbourne’s city centre, shocked the city when it was bought from the Paris Salon in the late nineteenth century. It’s a bold nude. As we stare at it, we kind of realise she’s completely shaven and appears to be missing a vital sexual organ – or perhaps it’s just very discreet. Somehow that seems more shocking for today’s audience.

Melbourne is the antidote to Hong Kong’s craziness. More orderly though food obsessed in the same manner, it is a city of charm.

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This is the high Victorian gothic bank chamber where we did a very modern thing and withdrew our plastic Australian notes. It isn’t uncommon to find buildings like this in the city, which was founded on the largest gold haul the world had ever seen.

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Here is some more Victorian splendour. The period was very kind to Melbourne. Incidentally, although we love the style now, travellers would’ve noted at the time how over-the-top the style was in the colony of Australia. The modern phrase is ‘try hard’. Still, I love its try-hardness!

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Here are some of the arcades. The Block was part of a shopping tradition, the epi-centre  similar to today’s shopping malls. In one shop, the ceiling has a painting that was like a fanciful piece of advertising for the Singer sewing machine company, an American business that had great influence worldwide. There are arcades of different eras. The Cathedral arcade is a slick 30s addition. The Royal from 1850 or thereabouts is Melbourne’s oldest.

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The laneways that break up the grid are places for coffee and relaxation. And graffiti.

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It’s a confident city. Perhaps with a bit too much money. These people are seated on deck chairs watching a movie in the city’s Federation Square. The night’s are hot, perfect for outdoor activities.

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