Guide for Excursionists from Melbourne

Guide for Excursionists from Melbourne

Guide for Excursionists from MelbourneWhen a Melbourne printer published a Guide for Excursionists from Melbourne in 1868 he was able to claim that it was 'the first attempt at publishing, in this shape, some account of what may be seen in and about the colony'.

Practical guides for immigrants to Melbourne and the Victorian goldfields had been published in the middle of the nineteenth century, but they were essentially utilitarian in nature, as the leisured tourist in Australia had not yet appeared.

It is probably at least partly due to the wealth Victoria derived from the gold discoveries that tourism began to emerge in the later decades of the century. During the 1860s simple travel guides to many of our provincial towns and holiday resorts became available to those who could afford a vacation or a day excursion.

These guidebooks appear to have been more common in Victoria than elsewhere in Australia.

These guides mostly were ephemeral, and very few have survived. All are uncommon on the book market, and some are quite rare. The State Library of Victoria has an excellent holding but nevertheless lacks a few of the scarcer items. Ferguson, in his Bibliography of Australia, seems to have had difficulty in describing many of these guides because the bibliographic details are often haphazard. In this brief survey, describing a selection of items from my own collection, I shall attempt to give an outline of our early tourist industry, and more especially to focus on the richness of some of the published material of the period.

The Guide for Excursionists from Melbourne, which H. Thomas printed and published in 1868, is not typical, in that it is much more extensive than most, comprising 256 pages of text, more than 50 pages of advertisements and a few blanks for written notes.

It normally appears in green cloth with rustic gilt lettering OUTS on the front cover. The 'outs' were outings, which included fishing, picnicking, shooting, riding and rambling around the suburbs and in the more distant regions of the state. James Hingston, one of the main contributors to this guide, carefully describes 'Twelve Drives' including an excursion to the eastern suburbs:

Today we drive down Nicholson St, with the Carlton Gardens on our left, until we reach Johnston Street; turning down which, to the right, we make for the bridge which, at the other end of it, spans the Yarra.

On the further side, we enter a cutting, and are in the romantic ground called Studley Park. We get out of Studley Park into Kew; and, crossing where the cross roads meet, make for the road opposite. Going a short way up this, we take the first turning to the right, and are on the high Nunnawading Road, - a nice, smooth one for many miles up.

Where the road ends, we find a fit termination in an unexpectedly nice hotel called the 'White Horse'...

By the middle 1870s the seaside had become a major tourist attraction. In 1874 Henry Cordell produced the delightful Illustrated Handbook of the Bay: For those seeking recreation during the summer months. This booklet features a number of woodcut illustrations and a map showing various beach resorts around Port Phillip Bay. We learn that to go to Mordialloc:
The best route for visitors, not travelling in their own conveyance, is by train to North Brighton station, thence by coach to Mordialloc, direct to Bloxidge's Hotel. Any one travelling in their own conveyance will find the best route to be by the Point Nepean road, through Cheltenham.

By Michael Aitken
'In and About the Colony':
Early Tourist Guides of Victoria
State Library of Victoria

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Guide for Excursionists from Melbourne 

In and About the Colony - Early Tourist Guides of Victoria

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