GOVERNMENT HOUSE, MELBOURNE.
FOR some years past the Governors of Victoria have been lodged in premises rented off private individuals at enormous annual cost. At length it was resolved to build a residence on Crown land, and a site was selected in what is known as the Government Domain, abutting on the Botanical Gardens, and about one mile south of the General Post Office.
The plans for the proposed buildings were prepared in the Public Works Office, and the erection was commenced in March, 1872. The foundations of the whole structure were first put in, the material being solid blue-stone, laid in massive blocks.
A contract for erecting the superstructure was then let to Messrs. Martin and Peacock, and the buildings have at length assumed the appearance presented by the view given in page 17. The materials used are of the best description, the base course being finely-wrought Malmsbury bluestone, and the bricks for the walls are Hoffman's patent, from the works of D. M. Barr j' and Co., Brunswick.
The whole of the exterior is stuccoed. The buildings, when completed, which will be about September or October next, will contain about 175 apartments. These will be required for the private accommodation of His Excellency and family, for the transaction of official business, and for levees, banquets, balls, and other state ceremonials.
The ball-room is a noble hall, measuring 135 feet by 55 feet, and 45 feet high to the centre of the coved ceiling. The state drawing-room is near completion, and the highly ornamented ceiling is a sample of what the other rooms will be.
The tower seen in the centre of the sketch is 140 feet high, and the view from the top, in all directions, will be of immense extent. The cost of the building will not be far short of £100,000, exclusive of the upholsterers' bills for furnishing.
The position occupied by this vice-regal mansion is the best that could have been selected within the bounds of the metropolis, and the tower forms a conspicuous landmark from all points of the compass. Our view shows the eastern elevation, and was taken from near the Botanical Gardens-bridge, the gardens with the ornamental lake intervening. Plantations covering some sixty acres surround the premises on the other sides, and thus, although the St.Kilda and Domain Roads are in close proximity, they will not be seen from the lower windows; The vice-regal family will probably take possession of the new residence on their return from Europe.
Australian Rural-lit, Historical Fiction
by Ryn Shell
Riders climbed more than 20m — 6m higher than a rival chute in Manly, Sydney — crowded into a wooden boat with seven others, then "shot" down into a pool at the bottom.
Princes Court closed in 1908, as Melbourne's cold weather did not suit such an outdoor attraction. (State Library of Victoria.)
The Queen's Bridge, Melbourne in 1889
Later, my mother considered the area to be slums, and could not bring herself to return to visit her former home. I'll never know the full truth of what was behind that inner pain. Discovering past secrets is a huge part of the fascination of researching historical fiction for writers of the genre.
The boat, in this photo, courtesy of TROVE library, is the "The Commissioner" of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners.
Australian Rural-lit, Historical Novels
by Ryn Shell
I may have glimpsed my first sight of a man with a tattoo on one of those journeys down the cobblestone laneways of Melbourne. I would have lowered my head and hurried past them in fear, such was our conditioning of what was 'proper' dress and behaviour in the 1950s.
There aren't any fruit barrel merchants in the street, in there place were several homeless people who had set ip a campsite on the pavement. We are a more tolerant society that we allow street campers, as, given Australia's generous welfare and free health services, I consider that most homeless in our country are homeless by choice.
The former, Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners, office now contains up-market apartments, as the original building was expensively outfitted with marble, and luxurious wood paneling.
This beautiful photograph showing one of Melbourne's favourite bridges was a Gift of Mr Charles Weetman in 1988 to the TROVE library.
I wonder who else noticed than women paid twice as much as men for a bath.
These baths were still open in the 1960s. Back then men could use a public toilet for free, or one penny. Women had to pay three pence. Then later, when all men's public toilets became free is Victoria Australia, women had to pay one shilling to subsidise the cleaning of the free men's toilet.
Yes, you can be sure, I was one of those 1960s feminists who kicked up a stink about women paying twice of what a man paid (while we earned half as much—if we were lucky) to use toilets, and I protested women being sent to the toilet to breast feed a baby. I helped gather petitions to get parenting rooms into shopping centres and to do away with steep street curbs and steps into public buildings so that parents with prams and the disabled could go into places like Melbourne and move around, to do their banking and shopping.
Amazing how one photo from the past rekindles so many memories.
I never did use these baths, but I walked past them frequently back when there were a lot of those cobblestone buildings around Melbourne and the cobblestone laneways to match.
Looking towards City Baths in Swanston St, flight of steps leading up to front door, sign at steps listing prices of prices of showers and baths and public swimming pool. Little boy seated on newel post on left and a man seated on the right, a third man is standing on steps between them, two women standing at the top of the steps in front of the open door. (Source SLV - c1891)
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When I was a girl, women were not allowed in a bar room. This is an excerpt from Billabong Dream by author Ryn Shell.
“Lesley’s been knocked for a sixer and left financially destitute, but she’s taken quick action to fix this,” Iain said as they walked to the porch.
The children stopped to greet Snowy.
“I’ll leave the kids with you,” Iain said to Mrs Kaye. “I’ve got to go back and get Lesley. She might be emotionally fragile and argumentative when she comes here.”
“I took enough abuse from your Dad in the past six years since he became ill.” Mrs Kaye set her lips firm and put her hands on her hips “I’m not acceptin’ any fuss from Miss Lesley.”
* * *
Iain returned to the Crown Hotel to bring his sister home to the homestead.
She slurred, “I ordered the Saturday Morning Edition of the Sydney Morning Herald from Marsh’s Newsagency,” as he lifted her into the ute.
“I’ll watch the personal notices for ‘Peter needs Lesley,’” she mumbled all the way home.
He pulled up twice so she could stumble out to vomit by the side of the road and then stagger back into the ute.
Mrs Kaye came out to help Iain get her into the homestead and put her to bed. With nostrils flared to show their distaste for the situation, they exchanged glances to show their distaste at Lesley’s drunken condition.
Lesley rambled indistinctly about renewing her success as a fashion designer and how a beautiful woman named Marianna was going to change her family’s future and restore her wealth.
* * *
“Hit me with a schooner.” Dave dragged himself on to a stool.
“Did that brat take a bit out of you?” Smithy raised an eyebrow covered with dense, wiry white hair.
“I was remembering.”
“No, it was seeing the boy that’s shaken me up.” Dave sucked in his lips. He stared at his pained expression in the mirror behind the bar. “Bugger it, Smithy; I’ve been a proper ass. How am I going to fix things?”
“No one did anything to stop it happening,” Smithy passed Dave the brimming glass of beer. “Most of us thought you were doing what was best for those boys. Isn’t that what the authorities told us? Bring them up as white, they’d get better jobs, have a better future?”
Dave spilled some of the beer as he took the glass. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay, mate.” Smithy wiped the counter.
“Seeing Jarrah again—” Dave nodded his head, tears overflowing his eyes.
“You look pretty shook up. Want to talk about it?” Smithy dropped the cloth in the sink and pulled up and sat in a stool opposite Dave.
“Yeah. Jarrah. He brought all the memories back.”
* * *
Uneasy reunions jarred Dave’s nerves. The noise at the back of the barroom became a blur of indistinguishable background noise to his thoughts. He tried to stop his arm from shaking as he sipped his beer and expressed his torment.
Other hotel patrons witnessed Dave’s tears and moved away to give him privacy. There was none other than the trusted publican Smithy within earshot, and the bar was the closest Fife Springs had to a confessional. Dave poured out his torment.
He’d never expected to be sitting alongside Lesley again. Her red-gold curls were unkempt, yet somehow, even ungroomed and dishevelled, she’d looked elegant—she still had flair—heck, she was still beautiful.
He struggled to push thoughts of Lesley from his mind and focus on that double whammy of a shock—Jarrah’s return.
Dave lost himself in the beer and horrific memories of that ghastly, murderous day six years before.
Continued in Billabong Dream by author Ryn Shell.