48 matches for themes: 'built environment','kelly country'Diverse state (186) Aboriginal culture (32) Built environment (45) Creative life (60) Family histories (8) Gold rush (11) Immigrants and emigrants (34) Kelly country (3) Land and ecology (32) Local stories (61) Service and sacrifice (17) Sporting life (8)
Sound in Space
Music always interacts with the architecture in which it is heard.
Melbourne has some wonderful acoustic environments. Often, these spaces were built for other purposes – for example the splendid public and ecclesiastical buildings from the first 100 years of the city’s history, and more recent industrial constructions.
Exploiting ‘non-customized’ spaces for musical performance celebrates and explores our architectural heritage.
For 30 years, the concerts of Astra Chamber Music Society have ranged around Melbourne’s architectural environment. Each concert has had a site-specific design that takes advantage of the marvellous visual qualities, spatial possibilities, and acoustic personality of each building.
The music, in turn, contributes a new quality to the perception of the buildings, now experienced by audiences as a sounding space - an area where cultural issues from music’s history are traversed, and new ideas in Australian composition are explored.
In this story take a tour of some of Melbourne’s intimate, hidden spaces and listen to the music that has filled their walls.
For further information about Astra Chamber Music Society click here.
St Paul's Cathedral
Refusing to set foot in the colony, the eminent Gothic Revivalist architect William Butterfield resorted to sending extremely detailed architectural drawings and plans of St Paul's Cathedral to Australia.
He even produced life-size drawings of columns, window tracery and other features, to ensure the antipodeans could get nothing wrong.
In the end however, he was defeated by distance, and St Paul's was completed by the Australian firm Reed, Henderson and Smart, and later, in the 1930s, the towers he designed (but were not built at the time) were shafted for a new design by Australian architect John Barr.
Wind & Sky Productions
Many Roads: Stories of the Chinese on the goldfields
In the 1850s tens of thousands of Chinese people flocked to Victoria, joining people from nations around the world who came here chasing the lure of gold.
Fleeing violence, famine and poverty in their homeland Chinese goldseekers sought fortune for their families in the place they called ‘New Gold Mountain’. Chinese gold miners were discriminated against and often shunned by Europeans. Despite this they carved out lives in this strange new land.
The Chinese took many roads to the goldfields. They left markers, gardens, wells and place names, some which still remain in the landscape today. After a punitive tax was laid on ships to Victoria carrying Chinese passengers, ship captains dropped their passengers off in far away ports, leaving Chinese voyagers to walk the long way hundreds of kilometres overland to the goldfields. After 1857 the sea port of Robe in South Australia became the most popular landing point. It’s estimated 17,000 Chinese, mostly men, predominantly from Southern China, walked to Victoria from Robe following over 400kms of tracks.
At the peak migration point of the late 1850s the Chinese made up one in five of the male population in fabled gold mining towns of Victoria such as Ballarat, Bendigo, Castlemaine, Beechworth and Ararat. It was not just miners who took the perilous journey. Doctors, gardeners, artisans and business people voyaged here and contributed to Victoria’s economy, health and cultural life. As the nineteenth century wore on and successful miners and entrepreneurs returned home, the Chinese Victorian population dwindled. However some chose to settle here and Chinese culture, family life, ceremony and work ethic became a distinctive feature of many regional Victorian towns well into the twentieth century.
By the later twentieth century many of the Chinese relics, landscapes and legacy of the goldrush era were hidden or forgotten. Today we are beginning to unearth and celebrate the extent of the Chinese influence in the making of Victoria, which reaches farther back than many have realised.
Tides of Change: Women of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW)
In the lead up to International Women’s Day held on the 8th of March 2018, Melbourne Water celebrates and shines a spotlight on the past and continuing achievements of women within the organisation. Please join us in exploring the major milestones and social change within the MMBW, Melbourne Water and the Victorian Public Service.
Melbourne Water’s predecessor, The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW), was formed in 1891 to take responsibility for the city’s water supply and treatment. Initially, female employees were appointed to administrative and clerical positions. It wasn’t until 1939 that women stepped into more official, technical and specialist roles. These included positions such as chemistry assistants, machine operators and assistant drafts women.
Not only were women’s roles at MMBW based on their contribution to the operations of the organisation, many women were involved in social, recreational and cultural activities. Perhaps the greatest legacy of women at the MMBW was their efforts in building communities, enriching and empowering the lives of those around them.
Lighthouses: The romance and the reality
Everybody loves a lighthouse. The image of the shining light in a tall tower seem to stir something in everyone’s imagination. We imagine a romantic life in one of these isolated outposts. Away from the hustle and bustle, in a sublime and wild setting, at one with the elements…
The reality was a little different. Lighthouses were built on remote sections of the Victorian coast or on islands, some only accessible by sea. Light keepers and their families relied on infrequent supplies brought in by ships. During emergencies there might be no help at hand and the consequences could be tragic.
Over 600 shipwrecks are recorded along the treacherous Victorian coastline with the loss of many lives. Many of the wrecked ships were bringing people from all over the world to try their luck on the goldfields. The establishment of a series of Lighthouses along Victoria’s coast from the mid 1800’s didn’t stop the wrecks altogether; human error was often a contributing factor in these disasters.
Lighthouse keepers had their part to play, sometimes helping shipwreck survivors and communicating news of these disasters to the outside world.
Adventurous travellers have been visiting lighthouses since soon after they were built. They are now iconic destinations that most people can access and they haven’t lost their romantic appeal.
These house plans from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, give us an indication of how those with the means to build larger houses lived.
Servant's quarters, groom's rooms, sculleries, stables, parlours and children's areas give us clues to social attitudes, relationships to children and employees, social mores and living conditions.
Jane Routley and Elizabeth Downes
Reading about Flinders Street Station can give you the impression this grand old building is past its useful life. Not so. This is a hardworking station – Melbourne’s public transport hub.
Over 100,000 commuters pass through the station every day, well up from the daily total of around 30,000 in the 1930s. In my childhood the concourse was smaller with iron pillars and a galvanized iron roof. I remember it being full of wooden shops, brown panelling and a floor that used to contain bottle top lids, pen caps, paper clips, broken chains and other intriguing items fossilized into the black asphalt.
The Unsuspected Slums
Campaigner Frederick Oswald Barnett recorded the poverty facing many in the Melbourne slums of the 1930s.
“All the houses face back-yards…The woman living in the first house…was so desperately poor that she resolved to save the maternity bonus, and so, with her last baby had neither anaesthetic nor doctor.”
So observed campaigner Frederick Oswald Barnett of the poverty facing many in the Melbourne slums of the 1930s. After touring these slums with Barnett, it’s said the Victorian Premier, Albert Dunstan, couldn’t sleep for days.
In 1936 Dunstan established the Slum Abolition Board, and Barnett became vice-chairman of the newly established Housing Commission of Victoria in 1938.
A Methodist and accountant, Barnett became determined to improve the situation for the poor, sick, elderly and unemployed after encountering a slum in the 1920s. He was an astute crusader who coordinated letter writing campaigns and lectured throughout Victoria using many of his own poignant and arresting photographs of the cramped and unsanitary housing conditions.
Melbourne and Smellbourne
Over the last 150 years Victoria has experienced a number of landmark capital works and landscaping projects in response to its changing economic, environmental and cultural relationship to water. The sewerage system that we take for granted today had to be built from scratch.
For all the grandeur that was 'Marvellous Melbourne' in the 1880s, the city was nicknamed 'Smellbourne', and for good reason. The building of Yan Yean Reservoir in the 1850s had ensured the availability of fresh water, but there was still no sewerage system.
An appalling stench wafted from the many cesspits and open drains. 'Nightsoil' (as human waste was politely referred to) polluted the streets and ran into the Yarra. Nightsoil collectors frequently dumped their loads on public roads. Ignorance and neglect of the hygienic disposal of human waste had devastating results at this time when hundreds died in a savage outbreak of typhoid.
Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works
In 1891 the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) was created. It immediately began plans to build an underground drainage system linked to a pumping station at Spotswood, located on the western banks of the mouth of the Yarra River. The sewage flowed by gravity to Spotswood, where it was then pumped to the Werribee Treatment Farm.
Spotswood Pumping Station
Spotswood Pumping Station built to pump Melbourne's sewage to Werribee, was finished in 1897. At the pumping station, steam engines (later replaced by electrical ones) worked to pump the sewage up a rising main to join the major sewer outfall at the head of the pumping mains near Millers Road at Brooklyn. The outfall sewer then carried the sewage to the Werribee Treatment Farm where it was purified and discharged into the sea.
Werribee was the perfect site for the MMBW's new sewage farm. The farm was the Board's most important project, and one of the largest public works undertaken in Australia in the nineteenth century.
Land at Werribee was cheaper than at Mordialloc - the other site considered. Rainfall was low compared with the rest of Melbourne, which meant the land would adapt well to irrigation. Werribee was also 9 miles (14.4 KM) away from the nearest boundary of the metropolitan district (Williamstown), and 24 miles (38.6 KM) away from the influential and well-to-do suburb of Brighton. The Chirnside family sold 8,857 acres (3.2 hectares) to the Board for 17 pounds per acre.
The Earl of Hopetoun, Governor of Victoria, turned the first sod of earth in a ceremony on May 1892, which marked the beginning of the building of the outfall sewer near Werribee.
On 5 February 1898, a ceremony marked the official connection of Melbourne to the new sewerage system. Guests - politicians, board members, city councillors and federal delegates - boarded a steamer to watch the Governor, Lord Brassey, raise the penstock (the partition between the smaller and larger sewers) at the Australian Wharf. They then visited the pumping station at Spotswood and the sewage farm at Werribee. Horses and carts conveyed the 180 guests around the farm.
After lunch and toasts, many of which looked forward to the future of a federated Australia, MMBW Chairman Mr Fitzgibbon proudly declared it "was not a question of how much the scheme was going to cost, but how much it was going to save in the lives of the citizens." Before the work was completed he hoped to see those puny punsters and petty wits who spoke of Melbourne as Marvellous Smellbourne constrained to speak of her as one of the sweetest and healthiest cities of the world.
Open House Melbourne
Modern Melbourne is a series of filmed interviews and rich archival material that documents the extraordinary lives and careers of some of our most important architects and designers including Peter McIntyre, Mary Featherston, Daryl Jackson, Graeme Gunn, Phyllis Murphy and Allan Powell.
Melbourne’s modernist architects and designers are moving into the later stages of their careers. Their influence on the city is strong and the public appreciation of their early work is growing – they have made an indelible mark on Melbourne. Much of their mid-century modernist work and latter projects are now represented on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Many of the Modern Melbourne subjects enjoyed a working relationship and a friendship with Robin Boyd, the influential architect who championed the international modernist movement in Melbourne.
Unearthing a 19th Century Chinese Kiln
When gold was discovered in Victoria in 1851, stories of treasures of mythical proportions quickly flowed across the world. Desperate to support their families, Chinese men turned to the new opportunities available at ‘Tsin Chin Shan’ - the land of the New Gold Mountain. The majority of Chinese migration to the Bendigo goldfields occurred during the mid-1850s when 16,260 males and one female arrived at Guichen Bay in South Australia and walked overland to Victoria.
By the end of the Bendigo gold rush, many miners were drawn away from Bendigo by news of gold elsewhere in Victoria, Australia and New Zealand. As mining became less profitable, market gardening became a common Chinese occupation, with miners adapting their agricultural skills learnt in China to Australian conditions.
From the 1850s, up to 1,000 Chinese populated an area called Ironbark Chinese Camp. It was reported in 1859 that the large camp had greengrocers, butchers, barbers, doctors, gambling houses, a wine shop, and a joss house. That same year the A’Fok, Fok Sing and Company constructed their brick kiln near the southern end of the camp. The kiln was in operation until it was abandoned in 1886, when the site was transformed into a market garden. The camp area was occupied by Chinese people from the 1850s for at least a hundred years.
In 2005, a section of the mid 19th century Chinese brickmaking kiln was unexpectedly discovered. To determine the condition and extent of the kiln, Heritage Victoria archaeologists conducted a preliminary excavation, with support from an expert in South-east Asian kilns, Dr Don Hein, and support from numerous students and volunteers.
The excavation provided an insight into the size of the kiln, how it operated and a vivid illustration of the transfer of Old World technology to a new country. The A’Fok, Fok Sing and Company kiln is the only known example of a Chinese brick making kiln outside of China. In addition to the kiln, numerous artefacts related to the camp and its activities were discovered, including a variety of food jars, handmade gardening tools, buttons, combs, bowls, gambling tokens, and Clydesdale horseshoes (the horses were used to plough the fields).
The archaeologists covered the excavated section of brick kiln with sand and plastic to protect its fragile fabric. Another excavation is required to uncover the kiln’s working floor and investigate its flue and firing chamber. Only then will we be able to tackle the multitude of questions that still remain to be answered.
The kiln is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. For more information on the kiln or other heritage sites visit The Victorian Heritage Database
Isaac Douglas Hermann & Heather Arnold
Carlo Catani: An engineering star over Victoria
After more than forty-one years of public service that never ended with his retirement, through surveying and direct design, contracting, supervision, and collaborative approaches, perhaps more than any other single figure, Carlo Catani re-scaped not only parts of Melbourne, but extensive swathes of Victoria ‘from Portland to Mallacoota’, opening up swamplands to farming, bringing access to beauty spots, establishing new townships, and the roads to get us there.
Making & Using Transport on the Goldfields
During the nineteenth century, horse-drawn vehicles were an essential part of life in rural Victoria.
In Ballarat, local coachbuilding firms assisted with the town’s growth in more ways than providing passage to the diggings. Horse-drawn vehicles were vital for the delivery of goods, responding to emergencies and often symbolised one’s social standing.
The Gold Rush ushered in a period of incredible growth for colonial Victoria. Ballarat’s escalating population and burgeoning industries highlighted the need for horse-drawn transport – not only for getting to the diggings, but also for delivering goods and building material, responding to emergencies and performing significant social rituals.
In the early nineteenth century, the goldfields were dominated by vehicles either imported from England or English-style vehicles built locally. Coaches, carriages and carts were typically constructed part-by-part, one at a time. As a result, each vehicle was highly unique.
By the mid-1850s, the American coachbuilding tradition had arrived on the goldfields. The American method, which had been developing since the 1840s, relied on mass-produced, ready-made components. In comparison to English designs, American coaches were known to be more reliable for goldfields travel; they were primed for long-distance journeys on rough terrain and were less likely to tip over.
As the nineteenth century progressed, a plethora of English, American and European vehicles populated Ballarat – both locally made and imported. The abundance of coaches, carriages and carts – and their value to the Ballarat community – can be seen in photographs and objects catalogued here on Victorian Collections.
John Harry Grainger
Architect and Civil Engineer
John Harry Grainger was a creative figure, largely overlooked by history. He receives a brief mention in the much-examined life story of his famous son, the composer and pianist Percy Grainger, where he is depicted as a proud but ineffectual father.
Grainger's prolific output as an architect and his extraordinary talents for bridge building have not yet received due recognition.
The material presented here is sourced from the Grainger Museum Collection at the University of Melbourne. Additional material is held in the Public Record Office of Victoria and in the State Library of Victoria collections.
Tales from the deep
As the rest of the world became enthralled in the exciting and mysterious world of scuba diving - devouring the anecdotes of early adventurers such as Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Lloyd Bridges - Victoria’s own pioneers were hard at work.
John Black is one of Australia’s early underwater explorers. He began his career in abalone diving in 1951 and became involved in the new and developing sport of scuba diving in the 1960s.
At the time, specialty equipment was hard to get so John and his colleagues used the DIY attitude to create boats out of wooden planks and Victa lawnmower engines and breathing equipment using hoses and hotel CO2 gas tanks. With these extraordinary apparatus they were among the first to enter the pristine underwater wilderness of the Gippsland coast.
John’s stories describe the evolution of diving gear, the triumphs and near-misses of working in a burgeoning field and the excitement of being the first to dive on the remains of Victoria’s spectacular shipwrecks.
John was interviewed as part of the Heritage Victoria East Gippsland Oral Histories project in 2003. This story includes audio extracts from his interview and a transcript of his full interview.
100 Years of Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station: icon, meeting place, central to millions of city commuters. The building itself was the result an architectural competition held in 1902, and Mary Lewis, librarian, introduces us to the original winning entry, held at State Library of Victoria.
Explore the changing, and unchanging, face of Melbourne's streetscape with images of Flinders St, from photographs of the late eighteenth century to the works of art that Melbourne's famous railway station has inspired.
In 2010, Flinders Street Station celebrated its 100th birthday.