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Old July 26th, 2005, 04:27 PM   #1
shooter
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Shooter's Hotel Series Part 1: Hotel Australia Demolition

A quick question. Does anybody know exactly what happened to the Hotel Australia on Collins St in Melbourne? I know that the Australia on Collins now occupies the site, but when was the old Hotel Australia demolished? I am too young to remember, and I have not been able to find out much about it myself. The only details I have found are in the Walking Melbourne website which states that the hotel was demolished around 1970.

According to the Australia on Collins website the new hotel was opened in 1992. So can anyone shed any light on what actually happened between 1970 and 1992? I find it hard to believe that a prime piece of Collins St real estate lay vacant for 20 years until Australia on Collins opened. Below is a picture of the building in question dated 1957.


Last edited by shooter; July 27th, 2005 at 01:01 PM.
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Old July 26th, 2005, 11:53 PM   #2
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I'm not sure if the hotel was being used up until its demolition. I've been interested in HA for quite a while and it's not an easy building to find out about.

Here's what I know about the hotel anyway, which isn't much. It was built in the mid thirties and used by US forces during WW2. It had an art deco dining hall and and an art deco cinema. I've never seen a picture of the inside of the cinema, or of the hotel lobby for that matter. I'd love to see a pic of the lobby to go with my collection of lobby pics (Savoy, Menzies Hotel, etc).

As deco goes, IMO the entrance looks interesting but the hotel above isn't so memorable. I think it's a shame we lost it, especially the stunning dining hall.






Dining hall.


Maple room (dining room).




Queen Elizabeth II visit. Note a modern 50's awning and sign has been added.

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Old July 27th, 2005, 03:25 AM   #3
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Ok then, Here is a pic of the entrance staircase (with a little bit of lobby).



The interior of the Australian Cinema.....



And again....



The interior of the Tatler Newsreel Theatrette in the basement....



Silver's Grill, also in the basement.....



and finally the shopping arcade on the ground floor (very cool).....



So come on people, anybody with anything to add about this great buiding please do...
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Old July 27th, 2005, 05:01 AM   #4
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Hotel Australia on Collins Street.
I can assure you that the hotel was not demolished in 1970 as I used to frequent the cinemas and arcade there right through the 1980s.
It was probably demolished a year before its replacement was completed, ~1991.
For more on Melbourne's lost hotels, check out this thread I created for Walking Melbourne :
http://www.walkingmelbourne.com/foru...opic.php?t=396
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Old July 27th, 2005, 06:30 AM   #5
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Wow shooter, you've made my day. I didn't know the shopping arcade existed. You know, with all the great things this building had, I reckon if it was still around today and someone proposed knocking it down today they'd be locked up. That aracde really deserved to be saved. They could have built Australia on Collins over it really instead of demolishing it.

Sometime ago I searched the state library's archive for pics of Hotel Australia but didn't find any of the ones you posted here. How did you come across them on their site? I haven't found their search engine to be that good.

Collector: nice thread on walking Melbourne. I would have loved to have seen the Paris end of Collins St when it was still the Paris end of Collins St. I moved to Melbourne in 1994 pretty much after all the major demolitions had taken place.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 06:35 AM   #6
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Btw collector, did anyone kick up a stink in 91 when the building was demolished? Were people fond enough of the arcade and sad to see it go?
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Old July 27th, 2005, 08:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comingsoon
Btw collector, did anyone kick up a stink in 91 when the building was demolished? Were people fond enough of the arcade and sad to see it go?
I have to say from my frequent trips through the arcade, that there was nothing memorable or special about it at all.
The Australia Cinema 1 and 2 where probably amongst the worst cinemas in Melbourne at that time as well.
The building itself was actually quite an eyesore.
I don't remember anyone protesting against its destruction.
Most people like me would have cheered its demolition.
Its replacement Australia on Collins is a big inprovement.


The interior of Australia on Collins.


The mosaic that greets you at the Little Collins Street entrance that portrays the old Hotel Australia.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 09:31 AM   #8
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I go straight to Picture Australia these days when I look for pics, at:

http://www.pictureaustralia.org

However I think most of those pics are from the State Library (you can just check the links).

Last edited by shooter; July 27th, 2005 at 09:37 AM.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 10:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Collector
...Its replacement Australia on Collins is a big inprovement.
No doubt that Australia on Collins is a far superior building, and also true the old Hotel Australia was not much to look at from the outside. I have just found this building facinating for some reason, especially the interior. On a side note it is interesting that in the 50's the Australia would have been considered superior to the Menzies, Federal, Windsor etc. especially around the time of the olympics, when the older hotels were considered passe.

By the way if anyone has any photos of it during the 80's, just proir to demolition, or even during demolition, please post them.

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Old July 27th, 2005, 12:42 PM   #10
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for a second there i thought you ment Hotel Australia in Sydney. one of the greatest bldgs to be built in Sydney. it was taller then any bldg in Australia in 1891 and wasnt in harry Seidlers plans in 1971 when it was demolished for MLC centre.
its 7storey and dome were equivalent to a 15storey bldg.At 180ft/56m, it was our first big one. It was THE hotel to go to.It had a central atrium rising through whole height of bldg.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 01:07 PM   #11
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top thread guys.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #12
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Wow! How I wish I could stroll through the Hotel Australia. I have enjoyed this thread too!

But hey, how funky are these fluorescent tubes? (And how do they work btw). Nice...

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Old July 27th, 2005, 01:11 PM   #13
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I remember the Hotel Australia and in the last few years it was pretty rundown . As has been said the arcade was nothing special and the cinemas were tatty by the 1980s.It also had a sleasy bar downstairs near the cinemas called I think the Woolshed that was made to look like a shearing shed and it seemed to attract some very odd people
Its hey day would have been between the wars ( my grandmother told me the all the top people frequented the hotel and the wild parties and illegal gambling that took place at this time were legend) and up to the 1960s after that it fell by the wayside as the 'place to be seen"

Last edited by melb2006; July 27th, 2005 at 11:52 PM.
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Old July 27th, 2005, 07:04 PM   #14
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Seems I'm mostly alone in missing this building.

Never having seen the arcade I can't really judge, but going by the above pic it looks reasonably interesting and reasonably deco. I think it's a shame Melbourne doesn't have this arcade anymore if only because it was the city's only deco arcade.

As for the dining hall ceiling, again I never saw it, but going by the pic it looks pretty damn swish. I also like the deco ceiling in the cinema. It's beautiful in a minamalist way.

Above all I suppose the fact that the CBD is pretty deco-lite makes this hotel more of a loss for me.

Collector, I don't suppose you (or anyone) would like to start a thread about lost Melbourne arcades? (What with your massive pic collection an' all).The Eastern Arcade on Bourke is one I've never seen pics of. The arcade part anyway.
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Old July 28th, 2005, 05:41 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comingsoon
Collector, I don't suppose you (or anyone) would like to start a thread about lost Melbourne arcades? (What with your massive pic collection an' all).The Eastern Arcade on Bourke is one I've never seen pics of. The arcade part anyway.
Something to think about and believe me if I think I have enough photos, I'll start a thread.
I've since discovered that the original ceiling in the Eastern Arcade is still intact and is hidden above a false ceiling.
Let's just hope someone has the vision and cash to restore this arcade while it is still possible.
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Old July 31st, 2005, 10:28 AM   #16
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Yes it would be nice.
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