Architecture, Melbourne, Photography, Victoria, Weekend Wanderings

Weekend Wanderings – From Arcade to Arcade

There was a time when you could walk from Flinders Street to La Trobe Street without having to walk on the major streets, except to cross a couple.  You can’t do that any more.  Now that Myer is redeveloping their Lonsdale store, or what was the Lonsdale store.  Once you get to Myer, you have to go around one city block to get to Melbourne Central.  Hopefully, it will all be connected again, one day.

Nicholas BuildingI feel I should explain a couple or things.  I realised a week or so back, that some countries have different definitions for Arcades.  Here, in Melbourne, they are usually undercover shopping areas, like the one above.  There are usually little shops in them. These days the shops are usually quaint, one of a kind type of shops.  Usually, not always.

The other thing is that I took these photos some time again, and you have seen some of them before.  You will know which ones, I’m sure.

Block ArcadeThe Arcades often have beautiful architectural details, and if you love photographing architecture, then you will love our arcades.  Many of them date back to the Victorian Era and have those sorts of details.

The city of Melbourne is full of beautiful examples of Victorian architecture.  I think that is mainly because much of it was built when Victoria was rich from the gold rush.  When you look around for that period of architecture, you will understand what I mean.  We have a lot, it is very ornate and very beautiful.

Centre Place

Last weekend when I did the Laneways, people mentioned the above Lane, it is Central Place and a very busy place indeed.  It is mainly little cafes and places to eat.  This is probably one of the best places in the city to find a good coffee.  There are many places to get good coffee, but this lane, and Degraves street, at the other end, are very popular.

Royal ArcadeSome of the main arcades have arcades coming off them as well.  Different styles, different stores. You can really see the style in this image.  This is off the Royal Arcade.

Melbourne CentralIf you start at Flinders street and confine yourself between Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street, you won’t get lost.  Just keep heading in the general direction of North.  Once you get to the Bourke Street Mall, you will have make some decisions to get to Melbourne Central.

There are a huge number of Arcades in those areas.  It would be hard to visit them all.  Then there are ones, that only locals know.  It is a very popular thing to do in Melbourne, to go Arcade shopping.

As for taking photos, well, you can see what I have done.  Look up, look down, and look at the details.  Most of the arcades do not have a problem with people taking photos, there are some that do.  Australia on Collins has security guards that will tell you to stop taking photos.  Though most arcades don’t seem to mind.

Melbourne Central is a little different.  They do have rules, but they seem open to people photographing the area where the shot tower is and accept it has become one of Melbourne’s Icons and people will photograph it.  The same with the clock in the same area.  I don’t know how you would go photographing the rest of the place, you might find photography is not allowed.  I have a couple of shots here of some lights in the cafeteria, I don’t know if they were allowed, but since it was a fairly public area, I didn’t think it would matter.

Here a heap more images, I have tried to put which arcade the photo is from.

I have no idea how the arcades in Melbourne compare with other cities, but we do have some lovely one.  If it is raining and you want to take photos, then the arcades are the perfect place to go.  The other thing that is nice about them is that you don’t need to worry what time of the day it is either, although, having said that, you do need to consider other people, there will be times when they are very popular and very busy.

So if you are visiting Melbourne it is a very iconic thing to do.  I will do a self guided tour for this as well.  The self guided tour will give you ideas of where to go to take photos and what to look for.  I will also do a map.


  1. It’s been fourteen years since I visited Melbourne – it’s gorgeous seeing the place come alive in your wonderful pictures and descriptions… Many thanks for posting.
    All best, Ian

    • You’re very welcome Ian, glad you enjoyed the semi revisit. Hopefully there will be more. Thank you.

    • Thank you Kim, they seem to be different everywhere. I love the details in the old ones.

  2. You really show a lot of Melvourne. I’m learning so much! When I do come, I can’t wait to get the self guided tours.

    • Haha, maybe you should write to Victorian Tourism for me and tell them what a wonderful job I do for them. They won’t even respond to the emails I send them.
      I can’t wait for you to come and visit my Melbourne.

  3. so many truly lovely pictures. I have developed a serious wanderlust due to your blog :)

  4. Steven says

    Love your photos Leanne, Melbourne is a beautiful city for photography

  5. Angela says

    Yes, The Strand Arcarde in Sydney is just the same, we were lucky enough to visit my son who is working for TopMan, Sydney for four weeks during The New Year….and loved the arcade where we stopped for coffee….the quaint little shops are adorable!

    • I have visited some places in Sydney, I’m not sure I have been to that one. I do remember going to one place, I think it was the Victoria building, I could be wrong, but it was amazing as well.

  6. leecleland says

    Melbourne has such fantastic arcades and architecture – the only time I’ve had a day to take photos there was before DSLR and I just kept finding different things around every corner, even so I had a wonderful day with a point & shoot. Thanks for reminding me that I must get back there.

    • Yes, you must go back now, things have changed so much and you might find a lot more to photograph now. I love photographing it, can you tell?

  7. I surely thought you were going from one video game area to another! :-) Here in Bangladesh I have had to learn quite a few Australian and England “English terms!

    • That is part of the reason why I put in what they are here, I know quite a few people thought the same thing when I put up an image of one of them recently. They thought I was talking about video arcades. I hope you weren’t too confused. :)

  8. Can’t wait until the day I can visit Melbourne and wander round this arcade. Takes me back to Sydney’s Victorian arcade I last visited 13 years ago.

    • Thank you Peter, it is very easy to get great shots when what you are photographing is so beautiful.

    • It would be very easy to go from one arcade to another, and you would definitely spend way too much money. :)
      Thanks Marie, glad you like them.

  9. I miss Arcades, not really come across many in the US. Great images, reminds me of home.

    • There seems to be a different meaning for arcades there, that is what I have found. We have them everywhere in Melbourne. Thank you, I hope it hasn’t made you to homesick.

  10. In my opinion from what I’ve seen here…in answer to your question, I’d say nothing can compare…simply fantastic…sigh… :-)

    • Thank you, you seem to like them, I must take some better photos of them then. They are a very English thing I think.

      • I’m not familiar with arcades…I’m supposing they are like American malls (boring for the most part) of middle eastern bazars. Hmmm did I not say I liked these…that’s because I loved them! If it weren’t such a long haul I’d love to take a trip to Australia, seeing your photos have really excited my curiosity.

      • They are like Antique ones though, they are over a 100 years old, and have some beautiful designs in them. The stores are often small and very quaint. You think it is a long way here, just think what it is like for us and the rest of the world, haha.

      • Don’t I know it…I shivver each time my youngest says he’d might like to go study in Australia…

      • But if he came, you would have to come and visit, we aren’t that far away. What 20 or so hours by air.

      • Ah yes, there’s always the other side of the coin… ;-) just doing 12 hours though to get back to my native U.S.A. took a lot of energy, I shudder to think of 20 some…of course, maybe I could work a lay over in some Asian country…. :-)

      • yes, many people do that, it takes 27 or 28 hours to get to Denmark, when we came back we spent a day in Singapore, it was really nice.

  11. Beautiful, elegant architecture!! I wished we had that here!!!

  12. pincushionsandreflections says

    Arcades are essentially non-existent here. These photos made me wish they did. They look like amazing places to photograph!

    • It is amazing to hear that, I guess we just think they are everywhere, we have so many, some old ones like this and some newer ones. Thank you.

  13. Paris has wonderful arcades. I remember visiting one of the most famous, that has a whole tiny store devoted to walking sticks of every kind, most of them antique. Thanks for your post, I like the era and I like your photos.

    • I am not surprised that Paris would have them. I think you can find the most amazing stores in some of them. They are always worth a visit. Thank you.

    • It is wonderful, I think the Block Arcade is really the only one with a floor like that.

  14. Thanks for bridging the gap between our continents in such an amazingly beautiful way!

    • It is a fun thing to do, and it is always great to show off what a great city we have. Glad you like them.

  15. your arcades are architecturally beautiful…we have what is called Malls and I’ve never come across any in Canada or Florida, that are as detailed nor as beautiful as these…ours have much wider walking spaces and the stores are chain stores for the most part, which means you will see many of the same stores in different malls. If I had my way I’d prefer the arcades… so personal looking, and I love the Laneway…a fabulous place to sit and relax…thanks for sharing this Leanne…

    • IN the suburbs we have what you call Malls, they are exactly the same as what you described. The arcades in the photos were built in the 1800’s, so getting on, they are protected, which means they should be around for a long time. If you ever come here Heather we will have a coffee in that lane and check out the stores in the arcades.

  16. I love the block arcade shot you got of that beautiful tile! I don’t know why I kept going back to look at that one haha! It’s a beautiful place :)

  17. This is sad, for me. South African cities, and Durban and Pietermaritzburg in particular, used to have lovely arcades like those. They have all disappeared and been replaced by brash shopping malls in the suburbs. The city centres have lost all character.

    • I think that is why Melbourne has kept theirs, they are a wonderful feature and I think a lot of people would protest if they tried to get rid of them. We have the horrible shopping centres in the suburbs too. I am glad our Melbourne has kept its character.

  18. I’ve been to Melbourne, but apart from the Laneways I don’t remember seeing any of this! Extremely disappointed haha.

  19. Hey….super pictures Leanne. I gotta look at ’em again. I can’t see a trip to your part of the world in my I appreciate your photography and added commentary. Hmm….Arcade is an old and I think rarely used word here in North America. I only remember it as referring to some amusement centre, as in; “The Penny Arcade”.

    • I think quite a few people thought that when I put up a photo a week or so back. I realised that the definition of arcade was different. It is a shame you don’t have them there, but I am so glad we have them, and perhaps they will become something that will be unique for us.

  20. Great photos. i went to an underground shopping mall once when I was in Bermuda

  21. Love love the patterns and textures in these photos! I hope to visit Melbourne one day. Am looking forward to your tour.

  22. artscottnet says

    all are awesome pics, but the block arcade, circular pattern is amazing, amazing architectural details, beautiful and a joy to shoot i bet

    • The Block Arcade would have to be the jewel in the crown, so to speak, it is beautiful and very decorative. Thanks.

  23. Beautiful. I’m so homesick for Melbourne right now (Melbourne being my home away from home). Thanks for posting.

  24. The last time we were in Melbourne we went to the Tourist Information Centre in Federation Square and picked up some little brochures with self guided walks through the city. These arcades were included. We really enjoyed seeing the city this way.

    • Maybe I should go and see them about some self guided photography tours. I should try writing them first. The arcades are a great way of seeing Melbourne, and it really does show you what Melbourne is all about.

  25. Some people travel the world and come back to Melbourne with a view that it can’t compete with any of the other big cities…but I disagree, there is something very beautiful and unique about Melbourne, something that can’t be found anywhere else. Especially love the shots of degraves and melbourne central, some of my favourite place.

    • I have to agree, there is something very definitely unique about this wonderful city. I hope to show that. Thank you.

  26. Leanne, the lowest of the large images here, which I think is called “Melbourne Central”, is extremely striking – very well done! Adrian

  27. Just wow – wonderful pictures. I especially love the one of the G PO Building. Also thanks for your likes on previous posts of mine – most encouraging!

  28. I’m a great fan of this style of documentary photography – rich in geometrics and contrasting architectural detail. A lovely set, Leanne

    • I think I am a fan of it as well, plus, I think they are so beautiful, they are begging to be photographed. Thank you.

  29. Hi Leanne, I am taking pictures in San Francisco that I think may come out ok. I just downloaded them from my camera, and so we’ll see. I’m going to look for some challenges that might use some of the new pictures. You are such an expert on architectural photography. :)

    • I’ve heard San Francisco is wonderful for photos. I’m sure they will turn out great after your classes. Challenges can be great, look forward to seeing them.
      I think I just love architecture and it just comes out in my photos. :)

  30. I love to walk through arcades ….. stunning shots again.
    My favorite is the floor in Block Arcade and up the wall shot from Melbourne Central with the glass dome, brilliant angle.

    • The floor of the Block Arcade has been very popular, which is funny because there are other parts which are even more beautiful. I must take more photos.

      • Maybe you should get down to grass root level … *smile – I think you can really come up with some stunning angles with that floor, it’s so beautiful.

      • It would be good to get up high and take photos from there, but I don’t know if that is possible.

      • I’m sure you will come up with something.
        I have started to take shots from the ground now .. and it’s truly fun .. to see it from an ants angle. *smile

      • Yes, just go for it …. the world is totally different … from an ant’s view. *smile

  31. We call them ‘malls’ here, Leanne, and they are horrid places! From city to city, they seem to look the same…with absolutely no character, no charm to the shops. Can you tell I ‘hate’ them?

    Even the most celebrated, multi-storied mall on La-la Chi-chi Michigan Avenue here in Chicago, The Water Tower Place, is bland compared to what I see in your amazing images! I’d gladly walk miles in these Arcades, day after day…so much charm and artiness!

    • We have those shopping malls too in the suburbs, though we call them shopping centres, malls here are open streets that are blocked off from traffic. The shopping centres are the same as you describe too.
      Now the arcades, are gorgeous and once you go in them you don’t want to leave, and they usually have the most interesting shops as well. I’d walk all day with you as well.

    • I don’t think it is just your opinion, I think a lot of people think the same. Thank you.

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