Sydney’s Department of Lands Building

Located on Bridge Street in the Sydney CBD, this stately building was constructed in 1877 for the New South Wales Department of Lands, and was used as the organisation’s administrative head office. The Department played an especially significant role during the rapid expansion of settlement during the late 1800s. The three-storey building was designed by … Read on

Fitzroy stories part 2: The story of Smith Street

Running along the border of Collingwood and Fitzroy, Smith Street is one of Melbourne’s oldest thoroughfares. This bustling street, made up of wine bars, vintage stores, record shops and galleries, looks worlds apart from its humble origins. It used to be part of a winding dirt track that headed to Heidelberg and was the only … Read on

Sneak Peek: Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison

For many years after its construction in 1850, Melbourne’s Her Majesty’s Prison Pentridge was a place of dread. Today, though it has a grim and violent history, Pentridge is an entirely different place. Inmates inside the controversial housing facility have included some of Australia’s notorious criminals – among them Ned Kelly and Chopper Read – … Read on

Fitzroy stories part 1: a First Nations history of Fitzroy

During the 1920s, many Aboriginal people moved to Fitzroy, Victoria, attracted by job prospects and cheap rent. Now replete with wine bars, bakeries and fancy restaurants, Fitzroy was once known as ‘Melbourne’s worst slum,’ but it was a thriving First Nations space with a real sense of community. By the 1940s, Fitzroy had the largest … Read on

Egyptomania in the Victorian era

In the Victorian-era, England was swept with a new craze for ancient antiquities ­– in particular, those originating from Egypt. The fascination has become known as ‘Egyptomania’, and it reveals the culture of curiosity, discovery and exploration that exemplifies the Victorian era. Egypt had entered international news in 1822, when the Rosetta Stone was translated, … Read on

The world’s first feature film

Australia’s contributions to filmmaking are significant – for example, we were the first in the world to extend films to feature-long narratives. Very few people know that Australia is also responsible for the world’s first feature-length film – The Story of the Kelly Gang. It’s also the first ever film about Ned Kelly, the first … Read on

The time travelling wonders of art and cartography

In partnership with University of Tasmania By Dr Imogen Wegman, Lecturer in Humanities, Diploma of Family History One of the things I enjoy most about being a historian is getting to stretch my imagination out over centuries’ worth of built landscapes. But in this age of digitisation, I am not only reliant on what I … Read on

Discrimination, vaccination and federation in colonial waters

The German steamship SS Preussen, which journeyed to Australia in 1886–87, left a trail of wreckage that carried over into the subsequent century. The Preussen departed its home port of Bremen in northern Germany on 3 November 1886. It then called at Antwerp in Belgium, where most of the 570 passengers were boarded after first … Read on

The demise of Fitzroy Football Club

One of the Victorian Football League (VFL)/AFL founding clubs, Fitzroy Football Club was formed in 1883. Known for most of their lives as ‘the Lions’, the club struggled to survive through the 80s and 90s. The lion mascot was meant to reflect the ‘never say die’ spirit of the club – a spirit that was … Read on

Victorian mourning jewellery

The tradition of wearing mourning jewellery to remember a loved one dates at least as far back as the 1600s. Here, we look at the basics of this fascinating custom and its symbolism, and how to identify Victorian mourning pieces. Mourning jewellery is most often associated with the Victorian period, popularised by Queen Victoria’s very … Read on

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