Soon, the home of the best theatrical and educational tours in Melbourne!

We are going to be the home of the best theatrical and educational tours of Melbourne. Coming soon!

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An Artist with one arm…

On our New York End Tour, you can hear about Napier Waller, a famous Melbourne artist who lost his right arm in the trenches of France. Cheated out of a canvas career, he went on to produce fabulous mosaics: nine of which grace Melbourne. This is the facade of Newspaper House, built in 1931. The quote is Shakespeare, from Midsummer Night’s Dream.

 

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Newspaper house, which also has our oldest neon light on top!

http://www.redcoattours.com.au/melbourne-walking/new-york-end-tour

Did you know that Melbourne has both a ‘New York End’, as well as a ‘Paris End?’

Paris End

These are essentially, the two opposite ends of Collins St. The East End has been known as the Paris End, for quite some time. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the wife of the owner of the former Oriental Hotel insisted on opening up a Paris-style outdoor cafe. Many people thought such an arrangement could not survive in Melbourne due to our periodic bouts of bad weather, but in fact, with umbrellas, the arrangement went fairly well. There are other reasons for being called the Paris end. The nice boulevard atmosphere, the architecture as well as the theaters and fashion stores give it some degree of a Parisian flavour. Come and check it out on our #Paris_End_ Walking_Tour!

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The Regent Theater, on the Paris end of Collins. http://www.redcoattours.com.au/melbourne-walking/paris-end-tour

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The Stunning Theosophical Society next to the Regent Theater.

New York End

It seems that in the old days, the west end of Collins St was also referred to as the ‘Soviet End’ (The old ‘The Age’ Newspaper building was referred to the Spencer Street Soviet. It was for a time referred to as the Prague end. Exactly why is anybody’s guess. It is increasingly appropriate to refer to it as the ‘New York End of Collins’. This side of the central business district has a more derelict feel to it, wide streets filled with obscure grey buildings contribute to an atmosphere vaguely familiar to a former resident of New York. He informed me that Melbourne was a ‘mini Manhattan.’ Come and walk the New York End with us on our Free Walking Tour*, and see for yourself. It is our best street!

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A Mini Manhattan? Check out our tour when you are in Melbourne! #Free_New_York_End_Walking Tour http://www.redcoattours.com.au/melbourne-walking/new-york-end-tour

Set for Re-Launch!

Hope to build up a nice fun set of tours with various guides. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, to explore our incredible city of Melbourne!

New Website….  http://www.redcoattours.com.au

Two tours should be starting rather soon, the New York End of Melbourne FREE WALKING TOUR, followed by the Paris End of Melbourne tour in several weeks.

The ‘New York End Tour’ encompasses some of the most fabulous architecture of the West End of Collins St, in particular the Olderfleet and Stock Exchange of William Pitt, and the Venetian Gothic Bank of William Wardell (a church architect who also designed St Patrick’s).

Hope to see you on tour!

Charles.

Why I started this company…

The popular image of backpackers are as a bunch of partiers, travelling the East Coast of Australia (particularly Germans), uninterested in much else except surfing the beaches and maybe scuba diving the barrier reef, maybe getting drunk. Rubbish. Young people are just as interested in history as old. It’s just they have less time for it. In my time in hostels I have noticed that backpackers are among the smartest, warmest, most open-minded people, I have ever experienced, infinitely curious about everything, often book lovers and very well read. We backpackers (and I count myself as one) want a taste of everything in life.

With an interest in geography, which every #backpacker shares, sometimes to an intense degree, often comes an interest in history. Now we have a problem arise… many historical tours are not within the backpackers’ budget. Being a historian and eager to share, comes the notion that one must provide a nice tour in exchange for something which is affordable, especially the #TwistedTalesWalkingTour.

I have an intense desire to share Melbourne’s strange and glorious past. We are the very best city in Australia in my mind, and I hope that every backpacker stopping in Melbourne can pop along to one of our accessible tours. We get a nice mix of Australians, Melbourne people, as well as internationals.

Check it out!

Walking Tours

Charles.

Was a Melbourne gasfitter actually Jack the Ripper?

Frederick Deeming was a Melbourne man, born in London, who was a great conartist of both jewellers and women. Often wearing jewels, he would pursue rich women in hopes of achieving greater wealth. Frederick Deeming on Wikipedia

It seems that Frederick Deeming, slightly before his execution in Melbourne in 1891, may been Jack the Ripper, as he supposedly confessed to the final Ripper murder.

Despite the different modus opperandi in question, namely fact that Deeming killed his own two families, while the Ripper went after prostitutes who were probably otherwise unknown to him, one motive has emerged. It appears that Deeming in fact stated that he would not have thought it murder to kill a prostitute who had given him Syphilis. In fact the idea of syphilis may have been also used as part of his insanity defence. He claimed that he had contracted syphilis in England! Was this at Whitechapel?

 

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After his execution, people began to suspect that he was in fact the ripper. At Scotland Yard however, it was always thought that Deeming had been in prison at the time. His use of 20 different names however, makes this less likely than it seems!

The above is an article referred to in a great documentary: Jack the Ripper: Australian.

On the Twisted Tales Walking Tour, we walk over the courtyard where Deeming would have been buried! After his execution, there were no more ripper murders at Whitechapel. Did the trail end when Deeming swung in 1891?

 

About the Little Lon ‘Archaeological Park'(!)

 

I began exploring the Little Lon area one year ago. As a teen I had attended the new museum with its famous upstairs exhibit of the old houses of Little Lonsdale St. I had not hitherto realised that the entire area was simply one block, rather than the entire length of Little Lon. Having now explored the area somewhat, I feel I can write something about it!

Little Lon (The most north eastern block in the city), was the last to be settled by early Melbournians. People poured in during the gold rush, to such an extent that Scotch College was forced to move to back of St Patricks’, seeking a better area.

Was it a bad area? That depends on the background of people of the time, witnesses who recorded their impressions. People had been moved on by the 1950s so we don’t really have anyone to tell us what it was like! It was certainly an area of underworld activity. Was it actually physically dangerous? Not really, though pickpockets did operate in the area, as did gangs of Larrakins who ‘Larrakined around’ (idled around, occasionally shouting things, or making jokes for their mates). According to people who did not live in the area, it contained people who would utter the most vile language imaginable and was seen as something as a living hell to others who looked on the tiny houses and narrow laneways with their prostitution, poverty and gambling. The view of a hellish slum however seems exaggerated. Investigating the trove website, which contains various old newspaper articles, we see that there is surprisingly little in the way of criminal activity which has been reported to the papers! But then again, allegedly only 5% of the old articles have been digitised. What the impression is, however, is that this was not really a Whitechapel-type area of murder and Jack-the-Ripper type events. Rather a possibly seedy semi-industrial place of impoverished mass habitation mixing with petty crime and a little prostitution as well. Detectives and police were often seen on the beat, as well as in plain clothes, keeping an eye on certain people.

In fact it would seem that Little Lon was not really such a bad place. It was a place which contained brothels and was a block or two away from the illegal beer houses of Carlton, but apart from that, evidence might suggest that the people of Little Lon looked after each other. To an outsider however, used to something else, the area would have presented a radically different view!

I had some free time today in which to explore the area more thoroughly. Despite the crazy levels of development in the city, there is at least something remaining of the old times. We have two very old original-Melbourne style pubs, within close proximity, which have fortunately been preserved. (Photos coming up!) I call this an ‘archaeological park’ because we don’t really have much archaeology in Victoria to begin with, and also there seems to have been a determined effort to show how the history of the area behind the skyscrapers of Castletown Place.

Walking down Lonsdale St, we meet with ‘Madame Brussels Lane.’ This is named after a brothel which used to be in the vicinity. The lane however is a modern contrivance, created by vast demolition works of the older buildings and did not exist in earlier times.

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The Black Eagle hotel, 1849. ‘Madame Brussels Lane’, next to the Black Eagle to the right, never even existed in early times. It was a series of houses and back yards with cesspits. The real lane was on the other side, now the foyer of a building, and was called ‘Eagle Alley’.

Signs still exist, on one side of the Black Eagle Hotel, pointing out furniture workshops, some of which still stand in the area, though their business has ceased!

It would seem that these gold plates have been placed where equivalent relics were found during building excavation, inside cesspits, including where Madame Brussels Lane now is. I can only find three of these in the whole area!

These are three of the plates visible, two in Madame Brussels lane, commemorating archaeological discoveries. I presume the brass plates are located where the objects in question were found.

 

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We emerge from Madame Brussels Lane and tourists cannot believe they are looking at an original house from the area, among the skyscrapers! In the old days, one only saw houses like this, and a few factories.

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The back of the house has a nice outhouse! It is rented as an office.

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Another interesting relic is this tree stump. An old house had been built on top of this. The very hard wood of the stumps got in the way of early Melbourne traffic for the first ten years of Melbourne history. They were impossible to remove and not many folks had the time!

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Having walked through the new lane, over where houses used to be, we emerge at the Oddfellows hotel, on Little Lon herself. This is what a gold-rush hotel looked like! 15 rooms were up for rent here!

We walk through this area on the Twisted Tales Crime Tour

If you are interested in participating, please check out our website!

These photos were all taken with mobile-phone camera, March 2016, and may be used with attribution.

Charles.

Amazing tour last night. Ghostly chill confirmed!

As we walked to the bottom of George Pde, almost on Flinders Lane, the ‘chill spot’ once again struck. This is an area featuring an infamous suicide, of a man who was determined to become a ghost, one hundred and forty years ago.

What occurred next happened without me even pointing out the chilly, strange location. On the tour we had a girl who was very sensitive, and who had talked of having filmed orbs in her room, accompanied by haunting phenomena including her pet cat freaking out. Orbs are unexplained infra-red balls of light. According to one theory they may be defocused dust. According to another theory, they are associated with ghosts.

‘Did you feel the chill, did you feel it?’, she asked.

‘Yes, it’s winter!’ another man on the tour pointed out.

If you would like to take part in the Haunted Melbourne Ghost Walk, in order to make up your own mind. It takes place on Thursday nights, 7pm, from the steps of Old Treasury.

Charles.

Haunted Melb Ghost Walk on Facebook

Tours website

We have orb!

This is the first picture I seem to have taken of a ghostly orb.

One of the tell-tale signs of ghost activity is the orb. Some orbs are defocused dust. Others are not. I am not laying any claims regarding what is going on in the photograph below, but it would appear that there is an orb in one photo of Castletown Pl, from the old Little Lon slum, just outside the old warehouse. The old house behind, built in the 1870s, was a brothel by the 1920s, run by a woman called ‘Yokahama.’ Who knows what went on there.

 

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Castletown place without orb

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…. and with orb. (see centre) Defocused dust, or ghost?

One of the ways to capture orbs is to take lots of photographs of the same scene. You also allegedly have to become ‘orb-conscious’ and think about them. Apparently that helps.

Between the Gold Rush and the 1940s, Little Lon was a den of iniquity and a rats’ nest of laneways. For people living there, they generally looked after one another, but outsiders saw the cultural mix, the prostitution and poverty of the area, and saw misery.

I do not know if ghosts are real or not but the phenomenon of believing in them is certainly real.

On the ghost tour I sometimes suggest that people can try taking photographs to see if something like this comes up.

Charles.