MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Jan 2011 (11)

Lavender and jacarandas

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
1 February 2011
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Comments (2)

In Melbourne's sizzling 38ºC heat today, the landscaping crew are planting out the Royal Exhibition Building western forecourt. The larger trees - including jacarandas, oaks and araucarias - are already planted. Pots and pots of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina) and other plants have arrived and will go into the ground this week.

Plants in truck Plants arriving in trucks.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

  pots of lavender Plants in pots lined up near the central circular garden.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Workers on the REB site Landscapers planting out patches of lamb's ear.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The landscape architect, Barrie Gallagher from CDA Design Group, used plant catalogues from the 1800s, newspaper reports and early pictures of the site to design a garden that would reflect the original planting. The design is an informal arrangement of plants that would have been common in Victorian-era gardens, including sage, penstemon, flaxes and cabbage trees, within the beds around the formal circular driveway. Wonderful fragrant plants, such as mock orange, daphne and roses, will ensure the western forecourt garden will soon delight our noses as well as our eyes.

A golden morning

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
29 January 2011
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Comments (8)

Have you ever looked down at the footpath in Melbourne's CBD and wondered about those 20cm round bronze plaques that seem to lead a trail through the city? Well, they are the path of the Golden Mile Heritage Trail. This walking tour explores Melbourne's buildings, laneways, streets, characters and history from its beginnings through to modern times. And, on a beautiful sunny Melbourne morning last week, I went to discover what it was all about!

The tour started at Federation Square, on the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets, one of Melbourne's liveliest spots for over 150 years. Our tour guide set the scene for the rest of the walk, describing the history of the buildings around us. From the 1852 gold rush era St Paul's Cathedral on one corner to the famous Young & Jackson's pub of 1861 opposite; from the Federation era opulence of Flinders Street Station of 1910, to the ultra contemporary public spaces of Federation Square, this intersection provides a physical snapshot of the city's history.

Sandridge Bridge Sandridge Bridge
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We next walked along the Yarra talking about how Melbourne was built up around this spot from its beginnings as an Aboriginal meeting place to the coming of Europeans to today. We chatted about some of the characters in the city's early history, such as John Batman, John Pascoe Fawkner and Robert Hoddle, and how they shaped the city. Our guide also pointed out interesting sites like the outlet for the creek that runs under Elizabeth Street and the Sandridge Bridge. This Bridge was originally a railway bridge and was the line that took immigrant passengers from Port Melbourne to Flinders Street Station before embarking on a new life in Australia. Now a pedestrian bridge, its sculptures and text panels explore the waves of people,from Melbourne's Indigenous inhabitants onward who have crossed the river on this spot.

Immigration Museum was next, where the tour officially starts. I turned tour guide for a few minutes, guiding our guide through the Immigration Discovery Centre and explaining what we do here.

We then meandered through some of my favourite sites in Melbourne - its laneways! I got to pop my head inside the Mitre Tavern and found out the fascinating history of the Savage Club, plus discovered a new spot I hadn't previously known about and will definitely be popping back to. Rutherglen House is an 1850s bluestone residence/warehouse located on Highlander Lane. Today it's still a private residence!

After our little laneway exploration, we wandered up Collins Street discussing the progress of Marvellous Melbourne and the boom and bust of the 1880s to 1890s. Despite the many modern office blocks that I always feel characterise Collins Street, there are actually a surprising number of buildings from the 1870s to 1900 period that survive. There are some fabulous opulent buildings like the Gothic ANZ bank building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and the adjoining Stock Exchange. I also really enjoyed seeing the way the 1890s Rialto and Winfield buildings have been incorporated into the Intercontinental Hotel and Rialto Towers.

Rialto Building from Collins Street Rialto Building from Collins Street
Image: Nicole Davis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The tour ended another hour later with some of Melbourne's famous arcades: the Block Arcade from the 1890s; Howey Place, next to which the famous Cole's Book Arcade was once located; and the controversial Capitol Arcade, developed in the 1960s.

As you can see the tour was densely packed and I could write reams on more of the great stories that our guide had to impart. He was amazingly knowledgeable, gave fabulous detailed accounts, and brought to life Melbourne's history for me. Most of all, he answered my constant questions with good grace and love of his subject. As a student of urban history, it was a fascinating insight and a great opportunity to talk with someone who had an in-depth knowledge of these places. If you want to get to know Melbourne, whether you're a visitor or a local, I highly recommend going on one of these walking tours.

 

Feathering their nests

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
27 January 2011
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Comments (5)

Bernard in Public Programs didn't just receive a gory makeover for his stint as a security guard in the Science and Life commercial; he also needed a haircut to tame his unruly locks.

  Bernard's haircut Going, going, gone... Bernard's wild curls are trimmed off.
Source: Susan Bamford Caleo
 

But don't worry, the trimmings were put to good use... as nesting material for the finches and wrens in Melbourne Museum's Forest Gallery. In the wild, these birds salvage tufts of animal hair to line their nests and provide a soft bed for their chicks. During the birds' breeding season, Live Exhibits collect all sorts of materials that will make good nesting matter. This includes coconut fibres, fleece from sheep and horse hair to name a few. Staff stockpile material in spring and disperse them out in small amounts throughout spring and summer.

  Bag of hair Trimmings from Bernard's haircut.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Rowena from Live Exhibits had the strange task of scattering the hair around the Forest Gallery early one morning. When I told her it was Bernard's, she said, "I don't know if it's better or worse, knowing who it belonged to!"

Rowena in Forest Gallery Rowena scattering the hair in the Forest Gallery for birds to use.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Farewell to Phar Lap's skeleton

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
25 January 2011
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Comments (2)

The Melbourne Gallery was filled with beautiful harmonies this morning as a group of Maori performers sang and danced to farewell Phar Lap's skeleton, which will return to New Zealand next week.

Maori performance group Te Waka Raukura Maori performance group Te Waka Raukura sing and dance in front of the Phar Lap Reunion display.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Performers from Te Waka Raukura. Performers from Te Waka Raukura.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A performer from Te Waka Raukura. A performer from Te Waka Raukura.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On loan from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, the skeleton has been on display next to Phar Lap's hide since September 2010 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup.

Today's performers, Te Waka Raukura, provided a wonderful send-off for the skeleton. It has been an honour for us to have the skeleton and send thanks to all who made this reunion possible. The Phar Lap Reunion display can be seen until Sunday 30 January.

Maori performance Media and museum visitors gathered to enjoy the music and dancing.
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

MV News: Phar Lap reunion

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

MV Blog: The crates have arrived!

Planting the sustainable garden

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 January 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

From the 1950s to 2009, the western forecourt of the Royal Exhibition Building was an asphalt car park - useful, but hardly befitting the World Heritage classification of the site. Certainly there was no trace of the ornamental garden planted there for the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition.

 

Cue World Heritage, World Futures: a major project that began in October 2009. Funding for this project was provided form the Victorian Property Fund on the approval of the Minister for Consumer Affairs.

The project's three phases: excavation of the site to recover artefacts from the original 1880s garden, installation of an enormous rainwater storage tank, and restoration of the heritage garden and circular drive - are almost complete. 

Landscapers have installed the watering system and are now preparing the ground for planting. Within the next month the project will be finished and a beautiful water-wise garden will return to Rathdowne Street.

Watering system laid out at REB This extensive watering system will use the water from the new rainwater storage tank to ensure the garden stay lush and green sustainably.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

So keep an eye on the final flurry of activity behind those purple hoardings this month; the World Heritage, World Futures blog contains posts on the project's progress from the very beginning if you'd like to know more.

Hoardings around the REB Hoardings around the project building site with a glimpse of the restored circular driveway.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Royal Exhibition Building

World Heritage, World Futures

Poetry and profiles

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
18 January 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

First generation iPod First generation iPod in the MV Collection from 2001. It was donated by a journalist who reviewed the device just before its release in Australia. (HT13346)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Two new Museum Victoria podcasts by Dr Andi are now available on the MV website to listen to or download.

The first podcast, part of the series Someone's Gotta Do It, profiles MV's chief tweeter and number one narwhal fan, Jareen Summerhill. Jareen helps Phar Lap manage his Facebook page, too.

The second, Episode 26 in the Access All Areas series, takes the poetry of Ogden Nash to museum experts for the full story on ants, pythons, ducks, coelocanths and more. Exactly how many ribs do reticulated pythons have, anyway?

Links:

Archive: Access All Areas podcasts

Archive: Someone's Gotta Do It podcasts 

iPod on Collections Online

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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