Disclaimer- this post is written from my childhood memories and I may remember places differently to how they were.
“Don’t stand too close to the edge”. Nanna’s voice rang out as my sister and I edged closer to the water fountains at the Melbourne City Square. There were so many types; the cascade of water that appeared to run down little steps, the deeper pools along the Collin’s street side that always seemed a bit spooky, the shallow pools on the Flinders lane end that attracted seagulls. All that bluestone and water. The splashing, the smell of water that had been circulating too long.
Back to my Nanna; we’d heard the story many times before, about the boy who was sucked into the filtration system. Of course the idea of being sucked into those spokky pools was so terrifying to my seven year old self, that I was never all that close to the edge to begin with. Despite the dangers of the City Square, it was always the first place we would visit when we went with mum into the city to meet our grandparents. We’d then leave the City Square and walk up to Bourke Street and Myer.
We’d enter Myer and walk through to the Lonsdale street side. We would stop in the china department and admire the Royal Albert. It was in cabinets, behind glass and I would dream of a Moonlight Rose dinner set. Nanna always said would buy us some, perhaps for our 21sts. We’d then head back to the ground floor with its wonderful smell of cookies. The rotating chocolate machine was here and you could buy loose wrapped chocolates by weight. They were probably Ernest Hillier, and Nanna would let us pick one. I was fond of strawberry and we’d stand there waiting for our favourites to come around.
Back on the Bourke street side, if it were Christmas or a special event, we’d go up all the escalators, then climb the little flight of stairs to the ballroom which would be transformed into a winter wonderland or Lego city. We’d walk around in awe until it was time to get lunch. Worth mentioning here is the amazing bathroom that looked untouched since the 1950’s. It had a small lounge area at the entry, basins with mirrors down the centre, and old style toilets with a handle/lever at waist height to flush. I always imagined women in hats from days gone by freshening up in their lunch break.
Back out into Bourke street we’d go, and we’d walk up to Coles Cafeteria. It was huge and you’d line up with your tray much like one does at IKEA. A bowl of chips, and a frog in the pond were the favourites. The quality of food was probably awful, but for kids under 10 it was the best!
I’d love to take you to visit these three places, but sadly they’re long gone from the way they were back then. My grandparents are gone too and it’s all become distant memory. Three places I love to visit, if only in my head.