This is Melbourne’s most distinguished quarter, taking in some fine old buildings and the government district. The Parliament of Victoria occupies a suitably prominent position on Spring Street at the top of a hill. At the top end of Collins Street is the Melbourne Club, where Melbourne’s male elite have been socialising and doing business since the city’s earliest days.
Parliament of Victoria
The Parliament of Victoria is perched atop a grand run of steps, which are a popular spot for wedding photos. Built in stages between 1856 and 1929, the building remains incomplete – an ornate dome in the centre was originally supposed to be double its height. From 1901 to 1927 this was the seat of federal government before it moved to Canberra. Free tours of the building run on days when parliament is not sitting; sitting dates are published on the parliament’s website (www.parliament.vic.gov.au). Spring St, facing Bourke St; (03) 9651 8911.
The imposing structure just south of parliament facing Collins St is the Old Treasury Building. In a similar style and often mistaken for the parliamentary building, it is now home to the Victorian Marriage Registry and glamorous wedding parties can often be seen posing for photos on the steps.
Flinders Lane galleries
This laneway boasts the highest concentration of commercial galleries in Australia, mainly in the section between Spring and Swanston streets. There is a strong focus on Indigenous and contemporary art, with standout galleries including Flinders Lane Gallery, exhibiting emerging and established Australian contemporary artists; and Craft Victoria, with an excellent gallery and retail space fostering creativity in craft and design. Flinders Lane Gallery: 137 Flinders La; (03) 9654 3332; open 11am –6pm Tues–Fri, 11am–4pm Sat. Craft Victoria: 31 Flinders La; (03) 9650 7775; open 12–5pm Mon, 10am–5pm Tues–Sat; admission free.