Adrift in Melbourne: Seven Walks by Robyn Annear
Quite frankly, reading anything written by Robyn Annear is a complete joy. She writes as if it’s just you and her chatting away, strolling through the streets of our wonderful city. I consider this book essential reading for anyone who loves Melbourne. It is the perfect antidote to the last two years. As she says in her introduction, in Melbourne – and in any place – things change all the time. Yet, the way I see it, nothing’s ever really gone.
This book contains seven walks around Melbourne’s CBD curated by Annear to showcase our hidden histories. So, banish your sorrow, pop this book into your bag and start the Grand Melbourne Tour. Walk One, titled ‘Waltz in Six Lessons’, tells the history of our finest buildings and the women who inhabited these places. Up until now I had not heard of Madame Brook, who was the first and last word in Melbourne chic in the 1900s. Walk Three – ‘More by Land Than Water’ – takes in Chinatown and its surrounds. Did you know that the backyard tea garden of the City Buffet Hotel at 225 Bourke Street once housed a pair of lions, an Indian bear, a cheetah, some monkeys and an aviary? Can you imagine, walking along the streets of Melbourne and hearing a lion roar? These animals were eventually given to the Zoological Association and thus the Melbourne Zoo began. The final walk – ‘Off the Grid’ – takes in the north of Melbourne, through the Queen Victoria Market (such a sad history) past the Stork Hotel (sorely missed) and up all the way to Eagle Alley (just off La Trobe) where the Tour finishes under a beautiful old oak tree.
This fantastic book gifts you the gossip held in our streets. Before you know it, you’ll be completely enchanted again by our city. And it’s all because you became friends with Robyn Annear. Lucky you.