Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Eureka Skydeck - portrait of William Barak

No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is a portrait etched in the facade of the Portrait Building. Tasteful isn't it? It stands at the head of Swanston Street with a line-of-sight view of the Shrine of Remembrance way down on St Kilda Road. A nexus, in my mind, akin to the relationship between La Defense and Arc de Triomphe. Not sure that it cuts the mustard.

The portrait is of indigenous leader, William Barak (1824-1903). I discovered it quite by serendip, whilst scanning the second image in this post. Can you see it, in the top LH corner? There are three other things to draw your attention to. Firstly, the conical tower on the centre-left. This glass cone covers the old Coop's Shot Tower, which ceased operating sometime just befor 1973. Secondly, the octagonal roof of the Melbourne City Library main reading room (mid-centre), which from the inside is totally stunning. Thirdly, just a smidge to the right and down from the library dome is the tiny remnant of the Queen Victoria Hospital. Yes, that little red, brick building with the turrets. It is now a women's centre. It used to occupy that entire city block. That includes those two behomeths, glaring down upon old Queen Vic.

This next image (I apologise for the reflected light in some of these shots), looks south, instead of north, and shows the view down to Albert Park Lake with the St Kilda pier in the background.

The image above shows the Yarra River snaking its way down from the Dandenongs, and through the city. In the foreground is the white spire of the Melbourne Arts Centre. On the far right, centre, in the midst of the parkland, is Government House. On the other side of the river there is a massive sporting complex which consists of the worm-like AAMI Park, home to anything which is neither AFL nor cricket. Sad they could not get a better name for this striking venue. To the left of this are all the facilities that make up the Rod Laver Arena, the home of the Australian Tennis Open in January each year. To the left of the tennis, is the mighty MCG, the home of cricket, and of Austraiam Rules football (AFL).

I included this next image because of the striking building code it illustrates. Why is there a swathe straight through the centre of the city, which is so more low-rise than the streets on either side? If you have any knowledge of this, please let me know.

Ah, now this next image shows a scarlet arc segment on the northern bank of the Yarra River. This delineates where the river turned from salty, to fresh when Melbourne was burgeoning. The ships with their eager migrants could go no further, and hence, that squat, 4-storey building on the other side of the blue trains, was the Customs and Immigration building. It is the third Customs House to occupy this site, and was occupied by Customs in 1858, the year after my 2x-great-grandparents arrived into Melbourne.

So, my camera and I have come the full-circle around the Eureka Skydeck, to be pointing, once again, out over Port Phillip Bay, with the "Spirit of Tasmania" moored at Station Pier, which was operating in 1854.

Finally, two buildings pretty much straight down the Eureka Tower, in Southbank. On the left is the Heritage-listed Mounted Police complex, with the octagonal corner return. This dates from 1912. On the right is a set of enclosed apartments in Kavanagh Street which has had its privacy totally compromised by my ability to see into their backyards!


William Kendall said...

Wow! Amazing views!

LuiZ FernandoS said...

In the second photo, middle right side, the next corner right to Victoria Hospital, there's a 'pixelled' short building. Could it be a Discobolous mural?

Joe said...

A great bird's eye view and description of Melbourne Julie. That swathe of low rise buildings through the centre of the city has got me thinking Julie. Perhaps it comes down to economics. It is Swanston Street, historically, Melbourne's major thoroughfare through the city. Perhaps the best return per square metre is obtained by attracting the passing crowds to shop rather than occupy offices. Retail is generally low rise while the offices are high rise.

Julie said...

Luiz, I have poured over google map, and searched for that building. It turns out it is 168 Lonsdale St which is the Greek Community Centre builing. It follows then, that this is indeed a "Discobolous mural". I did not know of the concept, and an indebted to your wonderful eyes.

Julie said...

Joe, Your hypothesis makes sense to me. I had no idea that thge height differential even existed. It is very marked. Increasingly up here (and I guess in Melbourne, too) retail is the first couplke of floors of a high rise, and offices the rest. That is what Barangaroo is going to be, I think.

Many thanks for your continued interest.

Andrew said...

I think quite heavy council height controls were kept on Swanston Street and a good thing too. Who wants to go shopping with glass towers either side of you.

Jim said...

Fascinating portrait building.

Stefan Jansson said...

Nice view it is.

Joan Elizabeth said...

What I finf fascinating is how you notice the detail whereas I am happy to take I the view and move on. One thing I dislike about Melboururne is that it is so flat. But I like it a lot as a city at street level.