Women's Tour of Melbourne

4 Parliament Pl, East Melbourne VIC 3002, Australia

Women's Tour of Melbourne

4 Parliament Pl, East Melbourne VIC 3002, Australia

Staff Pick
1 h 22 m
5.53 km

This tour was created to celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage in 2008 but interest in the role women have played in these places will endure for many years to come. An ipod tour is available.

Women's Tour of Melbourne

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This tour was created to celebrate the centenary of women's suffrage in 2008 but interest in the role women have played in these places will endure for many years to come. An ipod tour is available.


This version of the tour uses photos and information adapted from the original walk created by the National Trust of Australia - Victoria. For fuller description of each site, please visit the link above.

This walking tour will encourage members of the community to visit and appreciate a range of sites where women played important or notable roles. The role of men in the history of the places in the walking tour is well-known, but in many cases the role of women in the history of these places is less-known or not known at all.

This tour consists of a variety of women?s places, including places or objects designed or commissioned by women; places where poor and marginalised women found themselves; and places from which women were able to reform or contribute to society in many ways, for example, as politicians, feminist lobbyists, doctors, artists, actresses and singers.

In this two-hour walk only some of the significant women?s sites can be taken in but they are among the most significant and interesting sites associated with women in Melbourne. The places you will see will deepen your appreciation of many aspects of the journey women have made from the late 19th century to achieve a more fulfilling role in their lives.

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Points of Interest

1. Tasma Terrace - 2-12 Parliament Place

The terrace is the headquarters of the National Trust. It comprised important boarding houses from the 1870s. Managing a boarding house was one of the few employment options available to early women.

2. the Great Petition sculpture - Burston Reserve

This artwork represents a giant petition with 30,000 signatures offered to the Victorian Parliament in 1891 as evidence of widespread support for equal voting rights for women.

3. Caroline Chisholm Cairn - Burston Reserve

Commemorates the centenary of the death of philanthropist Caroline Chisholm, who served the community by welcoming immigrants and building shelters for travellers to the goldfields at Castlemaine.

4. Women\'s Underground Toilet - Gordon Reserve, near Spring St

The toilet is one of 11 erected by the City of Melbourne between 1902 and 1939. The group is now unique in Australia.

5. Parliament House - Spring St

Victoria was last to grant women suffrage in 1908.A plaque in the garden honours Vida Goldstein,pioneer suffragist and first woman in the British Empire to stand for election to a national parliament.

6. Windsor Hotel - 111 Spring St

Sitting over the main entrance are 2 classically inspired figures draped in robes. The female statue on the right represents Peace, while the male figure on the left represents Plenty.

7. The Lyceum Club - 9 Ridgeway Place

The Lyceum, the famous professional women's club was a purpose-built place, created by and for women, in Victoria.

8. Grosvenor Chambers - 9 Collins St

This building was erected specifically as artists' studios. Amongst other women who had a studio here, Jane Sutherland was regarded as the leading woman artist of the Heidelberg School.

9. WCTU Rooms - 15 Collins St

The Women's Christian Temperance Union was the largest and most influential of the various women's organisations in Victoria in the late 1890s.

10. The Melbourne Club - 36 Collins St

Established in 1838, the Melbourne Club is Victoria's oldest institution. Women are excluded from membership of this bastion of conservatism and one of the most exclusive organisations in Victoria.

11. Harley House - corner of Collins & Exhibition St

The National Council of Women, based here for 2 decades effectively lobbied for legislation and representation on all boards and committees relating women and children's welfare and legal rights.

12. Alexandra Club - next to Harley House

Founded in 1903, this is one of Australia's longest established and exclusive clubs for women. Members include Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, community worker and women's rights activist Beryl Beaurepaire.

13. Le Louvre - 74 Collins St

Formerly a boutique by Lillian Wrightman promoting high fashion European designers. The boutique played a role in establishing Melbourne as the fashion capital of Australia that it has become today.

14. Nauru House - 80 Collins St

The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was located here from 1979 - 2006, and women campaigners for equal pay re-enacted the 1969 chain up demonstration at the site on 31 October 1985.

15. St Michael's Uniting Church - corner Collins & Russell St

Women have been part of the congregation since its opening in 1867. The Uniting Church has allowed female ministers who serve in parishes, and some females have been Moderators.

16. Flinders Lane

Thousands of women worked in the rag trade and endured poor working conditions such as long hours and low wages. Few buildings of the textile and clothing industries remain. Rosati's is one of them.

17. Former women's buildings - Russell St

The city meeting place for many women's reformist groups. WCTU's first headquarters at 28 Russell St was where girls from nearby workrooms could get cheap good meals.

18. Scots Church - corner Russell and Collins St

Dame Nellie Melba sang in the church choir as a child. When she died, the funeral service was held here. Women have been members of the congregation since 1874 but cannot serve as ministers.

19. Assembly Hall - next to Scots Church - 156 -160 Collins St

Used for the Women\'s Parliament, which was conducted on parliamentary lines with a ministry and political parties and provided useful training in public speaking and parliamentary procedure.

20. Theosophical Society - 181 Collins St

Once home to the Theosophical Society. Many women have been members of the society, and have been elected president over the years. The current Theosophical Society building is at 126-28 Russell St.

21. The Atheneaum - 188 Collins St

The talented artist Clarice Beckett had large yearly exhibitions at the Athenaeum from 1924 until 1932. The building\'s facade contains a statue of Minerva, patron goddess of wisdom.

22. Former underground women's toilet - corner Rusell Bourke St

Built in 1902, this was the first such toilet built as a result of the lobbying by many women, including members of the Womens Political and Social Crusade. It is now under the sculpture at the site.

23. Chinatown - Little Bourke St

An early centre for prostitution and poverty, the Salvation Army established a hall in Little Bourke Street to do battle for the souls of prostitutes and larrikins in the 19th century.

24. Queen Victoria Hospital - 210 Lonsdale St

One of only 3 hospitals in the world to be founded, managed and staffed by women. It was Australia\'s first female medical service, established by Australia\'s first female doctor in 1896.

25. State Library - 328 Swanston St

Helen Garner wrote her well-known novel 'Monkey Grip' at the library. In the forecourt is the statue of Joan of Arc, the national 15th century heroine of France and saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

26. Storey Hall - 344-46 Swanston St

Various women's organisations rented the premises, including the Women's Peace Army associated with Vida Goldstein. Purple and green are colours of the Irish and early feminists who once occupied it.

27. Women's Liberation Office - 16 Little La Trobe St

Feminists from the Women's Liberation Movement Centre produced a newspaper Vashti's Voice, which promoted women's rights such as equal pay and abortion.

28. Welsh Church - 320 La Trobe St

The first free dispensary for women in 1896 was set up here. In the first 3 months the clinic treated 2,000 women and children. This led to the establishment of the Queen Victoria Hospital.

29. YWCA's Jasper Hotel - 489 Elizabeth St

Established in 1882, the organisation provides housing services, job placement and mentoring for many women. Inside is a plaque acknowledging Alice Henry, pioneer journalist and unionist.

30. Emily McPherson College (now RMIT) - 379-405 Russell St

Established to improve the domestic skills of women at a time when there was a push for 'scientific' mothering education, also when a young woman's access to secondary education was limited.

31. Old Melbourne Gaol - 377 Russell St

Ned Kelly's mother, Ellen, was a prisoner in the women's cell block when Ned was hanged in 1880. She was in trouble for aiding and abetting Ned and charged with attempted murder.

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32. City Watch House - next to the former Magistrates Court

The first prisoner here was Beatrice Phillips, who was charged with indecent language. The National Council of Women and WCTU successfully lobbied to improve some conditions for female prisoners.

33. Magistrates Court - corner La Trobe and Russell St

Jennie Baines was sentenced to 6 months' jail for repeated violations of the War Precautions Act in 1919 for flying red flags. She went on a hunger strike and was released after 4 days.

34. Green Latrine - corner Spring and LaTrobe St

On 21 October 1969 Zelda D'Aprano, a feminist crusader chained herself to the Commonwealth Building (known as the 'Green Latrine', now demolished) until she was cut free by the Commonwealth police.

35. Princess Theatre - 163 Spring St

Many famous actresses have performed at the theatre, including Nellie Stewart, Sibyl Thorndike, Marlene Dietrich and Marina Prior. Nellie Stewart, who starred in the first performance of 'The Mikado'.


Public Transport Public Transport
Seating available Seating available
Public toilets Public toilets
Historical interest Historical interest
Park / Garden Park / Garden