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.

WP_20160327_11_16_32_Pro

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.

 

WP_20160327_11_25_58_Pro

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.

WP_20160327_11_24_38_Pro

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

WP_20160327_11_39_51_Pro

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!

WP_20160327_11_29_36_Pro

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.

 

IMG_4379

Castletown place without orb

IMG_4378

…. 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.

What you learn from people on tours!

Always learn interesting things from people on the tours! I learn most on the daytime crime tour, which is the ‘Free’ Twisted Tales Crime Tour, and has been running the longest. I often ask a number of questions:

  • Have you ever seen a ghost? (about 5% claim to seen one or believe in them!)
  • Who has been to Antarctica? (ONE person out of a thousand!)

I ask the Antarctica question outside the Royal Society, since there is an old glacial boulder, placed there in 1958, the 100th anniversary of the building of the structure.

Melbourne people usually tend to call the Royal Exhibition Building, the ‘Exhibition Buildings’. I was brought up calling it that, even though there is only one. I am supposing it is a relic of a past era when there were more buildings there, during the great exhibition or later exhibitions.

Melbourne_international_exhibition_1880

Is this why they are called the ‘Exhibition Buildings?’ What we know as the Royal Exhibition Building, today, was merely the entrance, the Great Hall. That pavilion behind is merely a small part of what what once existed behind. A huge market-like structure. (from Wikipedia)

People also tell me stories about their ancestors. Today a man told me his relative held the lease for the Elms Family Hotel on the corner of Little Lon and Spring. (Little Lon was a  slum back in the day) It’s the only surviving business (until a couple months back) in the area which dates from the 19th century, recently being remodelled. Hope it won’t be demolished! Elms Family Hotel.

Another has told me his family owned a factory in the area. Factories in the former Little Lon slum were a later development.

IMG_4378

A picture I took of Castletown Pl, Little Lon at night-time! The old house, #17 is at the back! Yep, that seems to be an orb up there. Maybe the ghost of Thirsty Liz, or a customer of the former brothel at number 17?

Another man on one tour told me his ancestor was a gold-digger in early Melbourne, died in a forgotten shipwreck off the coast of Victoria in the 1850s. The history lives, and goes back a long way indeed!

2nd ghost tour yesterday, and a chill in the air!

Performed the second ghost tour yesterday, Haunted Melbourne Ghost Walk, which began at the steps of Old Treasury! An incredible warm night, perhaps the last for the year!

 

olddoor

Me in front of an old warehouse on Flinders Lane. The chill in the air is opposite this, and a little down the street.

During the tour, I tell the story of the Flinders Lane tragedy, and the man who was determined to be a ghost, in order to drive his wife mad, after his suicide. Allegedly a nearby lane around where the unfortunate couple’s house was found, is supposedly haunted, and as we walked around the corner, there was a clear chill in the air, which was I feel not just from suddenly being in the shade.

IMG_4357

Spooky Melbourne! What secrets do you hold?

If anyone is interested, the location of the ‘chill’ is corner of George Pde and Flinders Lane, approximately opposite the old wool house! I will possibly post some pictures of the location in future.

The first time I walked around the city looking for ghosts at night time, several months, back I came away thinking the city was not haunted. Now I am not so sure!

Charles.