Posted by: Lisa Hill | August 15, 2016

All the Buildings in Melbourne (2016), by James Gulliver Hancock

All the Buildings in MelbourneAlthough I love travelling to world cities like Paris and London, and I enjoy a jaunt to a regional city like Bendigo or a weekend away in a rural B&B, I love my city, Melbourne, and would never live anywhere else.  So of course I was enchanted at the prospect of All the Buildings in Melbourne, *that I’ve drawn so far, by artist James Gulliver Hancock.  It arrived with a pile of other self-indulgent goodies from Readings today*, and my only disappointment is that there isn’t more of it than the 64 pages of wonderful drawings of buildings in my city.

You can get some idea of his style from the cover, and also from this video of his drawing of Curtin House, but really, you just have to buy the book.

It has drawings of the famous buildings you’d expect to see, like the Arts Centre (from a quirky angle); and Parliament House and the Eureka Tower, and so on, and there are interesting snippets about the buildings too.  Did you know that Flinders Street Station was designed by railway employees James Fawcett and HPC Ashworth?  Did you know that the decorative ceramics in the Majorca Building at 258-260 Flinders Lane are called faience? And I bet you don’t know which building had the first escalators in Melbourne… the answer is on page 11.

The book shows off the European ambience of Melbourne, our heritage as one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities because of the Gold Rush, and the way the city is a great place for discovering all kinds of architectural treasures tucked away in alleyways and lanes.  But there are also drawings of buildings in our suburbs: the Glen Eira shopping strip that I haunted as a girl, and the St Kilda City Library which was so modern and new when I was a teenager.  There’s the Esplanade Hotel a.k.a. the Espy that I was too young to venture into when in complete naïveté I strolled the St Kilda streets with my schoolfriend (later the actor) Sue Arnold, and there’s the Palais Theatre and the wonderful shop facades in Chapel St South Yarra.   (And the Prahran market, of course, as well as the more famous Vic Market in the city). Como House always makes me smile because we visited it not long after we arrived in Australia, and guilelessly sent a photo taken in front of the house to my grandmother – who thought that it was our own house!

The book is marketed as a travel/gift book, but I bought it for me.

If you love Melbourne too, you’ll probably want your own copy as well.

Author/Artist: James Gulliver Hancock
Title: All the Buildings in Melbourne *that I’ve drawn so far
Publisher: Hardie Grant Books, 2016
ISBN: 9781743791936
Purchased from Readings (who are also giving away a free tote bag with the book during August, while stocks last)

Also available (cheaper, and freight free) from Fishpond: All the Buildings in Melbourne

*Also in the stash was Jean Rhys’s Quartet, ready for Jean Rhys Week; Tracks by Robyn Davidson because I read it ages ago and now it’s been made into a film; China Miéville’s irresistible The Last Days of New Paris; Thirst by Benjamin Warner (because the moral dilemma sounded interesting) and Position Doubtful by Kim Mahood (a book I referred to in my review of My Sister Chaos by Lara Fergus).


  1. My favourite Melbourne building is the Exhibition Building and gardens, but you’ve got to love the Melbourne baths too.


    • I’ve never been in there, I must do it one of these days.
      At Fed Square in the info centre, they have pocket maps of half-hour walks you can do around Melbourne. I’ve done the one that takes in St Paul’s and the Forum and I loved it. I’ve been meaning to do another for years…


      • I came to Melbourne as a tourist for a week 3 years ago (usually I’m at mum’s out in the burbs) and really enjoyed it. It’s a different perspective staying in a city hotel and walking/tramming around.


        • Yes indeed. Many years ago I took The Offspring on weekend trips to Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra (it was easy then because there wasn’t so much traffic on the open road) and when we’d done those three, we then decided to play tourist in our own city. We had a brilliant time:)


  2. MUST. OWN.


    • Tell you what, I took it into show my father, and he loved it. It triggered all sorts of memories for him:)


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