Laneways and arcades

From Flinders Street Station to Bourke Street Mall, you can slip through a world of cafes, fashion boutiques and jewellers, many of them selling one-off items that you just won’t find in malls and department stores. But it is also worth it for the walk alone – narrow, darkened and usually bustling, these laneways seem to be a completely separate world to the rest of the city.

The section of Degraves Street closest to Flinders Lane is closed to cars and is full of cafes spilling onto the paved street. Across from Degraves Street is Centre Place, with more cafes as well as bars and designer-fashion outlets. Towards Collins Street, Centre Place becomes a covered arcade.

Block Arcade runs between Collins and Little Collins streets. It boasts Italian mosaic floors, ornate glass ceilings, tearooms and exclusive clothing boutiques. Follow the arcade to Elizabeth Street, or to the laneway that joins it to Little Collins Street, where there are yet more cafes.

Over Little Collins Street is Royal Arcade, Australia’s oldest surviving arcade. Above the Little Collins Street entrance stand two giants, Gog and Magog, of the ancient British legend. You can take Royal Arcade to either Bourke Street Mall or Elizabeth Street. (To get to the mall you can also take the adjacent, cafelined Causeway.)

Recent building works in the city, such as the GPO development in Bourke Street Mall (see next entry , the renovation of Melbourne Central (see p. 139) and the QV site (see p. 138) , have opened up more of the old laneways, restoring the original vision of Melbourne’s designer, Robert Hoddle.


Stopping for coffee in Degraves Street, one of the city’s laneways

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