Currently in it's fourth edition, Maree Coote's The Melbourne Book - A History Of Now is an absolute delight to read. A stunning hardcover book with colour photos throughout, this non-fiction gem covers all aspects of this magnificent city: Melbourne.
Being a resident for the past 13 years, I found the majority of the information presented quite fascinating, and would like to share a few of the things that interested me along the way:
- Two government surveyors (Robert Hoddle and Robert Russell) designed the iconic grid layout of the CBD in 1837;
- I didn't know this, but Exhibition Street was originally called Stephen Street; renamed Exhibition Street in 1888 in honour of the great Centennial Exhibition of Melbourne;
- The two busiest tram routes in Melbourne are: Number 6 and Number 96;
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle said of the Botanic Gardens in 1920: "...absolutely the most beautiful place I have ever seen."
- Vegemite is made wholly in Melbourne, despite no longer being Australian-owned;
- Coles Book Arcade of Bourke Street in 1874 was the 'Grandest Bookshop in the World.' (I would give anything to have seen/browsed through this store).
I understand that in books like these, there needs to be a limit to content (I mean where do you stop) but I was surprised to find Queen Victoria Market wasn't included; such an amazing piece of land with a macabre past I thought this a glaring omission.
Having said that, The Melbourne Book will appeal to a wide variety of readers both young and old, residents, former residents, those considering moving or visiting Melbourne, and of course those with a keen interest in the history of the world's most liveable city.
My rating = ****