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Up for Discussion: Photographing Melbourne


Late last year I talked to you about doing posts about different places around the world.  There is so much tourist information about places to see and what not, but I have wondered how it would be to have information on places for photographers, that is specific to what a photographer wants to know about taking photos. I also don’t think only one person has the answers, or all the places, so I think this should be interactive, in a way, a community project. I am going to start this post, and then if others know places and things to photograph in Melbourne, then add it to the list.  Leave your ideas in a comment and I will add it to the post.

The type of things or information you need to give:


Melbourne Central

  • The place
  • Where it is if relevant
  • best time to photograph
  • do you need special permits or permission
  • can you use tripods

The idea is that someone who wants to come to the city or place can get a great idea of places to take photos, and when.

I would love to hear from people who would like to start the post for where they are as well, if you are interested, you will need to provide the photos, and start the conversation.  Email me.

I am thinking of doing one of these once a month, however, if they are popular, then might look at doing them more often.  I will also start an archives page so people doing research can find the posts easily.

This will evolve, so hopefully they will get better.


Flinders Street Station

light-trails-flinders-street-stationThis is one of our iconic train stations, and a rather unique looking building. It is located on the corner of Flinders Street and Swanston Street.  Love it or hate it, an image of it has been known to make Australians overseas very homesick.  It is possibly one of the most photographed buildings in Melbourne, and it is one of the major train stations as well.  It is a meeting place, we all like to meet each other under the clocks.

To take photos of Flinders Street Station from the road, you need no special permits.  You can photograph any building from the road.  If you want to take photos inside the station, then you need a permit, they are free, you simply go to this page and print the permit, read it, sign it and carry it with you.

It is incredibly rare to find the station with no people, it is always busy.  It is best to just except that people will be sitting on the front steps or just standing around and people will be coming and going.

The iconic shot of the car trails in front of the station can be done anytime when it is dark and people have their car lights on.  I have found Friday night can be the best, or other week day nights.  There are more cars around, though there are also more people.  You can use a tripod, but you have to be careful of where you set it up, but there are places, usually right on the corners were you will have not much trouble.

LeanneCole-city-20140308-1443Melbourne Central

Melbourne Central is a shopping centre, and also one of the underground stations comes out underneath it, so it is one of the major entries into the city from the “top” end.  It is a privately owned centre, and photography isn’t actually allowed, but because the shot tower goes up the middle of it, they recognise that people will want to take photos of it, so they don’t worry about people taking photos there. It is not possible to use a tripod, there are too many people.

 Yarra River

The Yarra River runs through the middle of Melbourne, but really is at what we call the bottom of the city.  You have the city on one side and Southbank on the other.  You can pretty much take photos anywhere you want along it, both day and night.  Though if you are taking photos across the river to the city during the middle of the day you will be facing the

Some of my favourite shots of Melbourne and the river have been done at night.  You can get some fantastic shots along there.  There is usually no problem with using a tripod.  You may want to be careful around the Aquarium it is becoming a popular place for homeless people to go, and unfortunately, the number there are increasing.

If you are near Flinders Street, in the morning you may get a sunrise looking east along the river, and in the afternoon a sunset looking west.  I’ve seen some amazing sunsets done along the river, haven’t quite got one myself, but plenty of time for me.

Street Photography

If you want to do street photography in the streets of Melbourne, there isn’t a problem.  If people are in the streets, then the law here is basically that you can take photos.  In Australian Copyright Law you can’t copyright your face.  You do have to be careful though, some places may seem public, but they aren’t, like the Block Arcade, while it seems like a public place, it is privately owned.

LeanneCole-city-20140228-0284The usual rules apply, nice to ask, but not absolutely necessary, be polite, respect the people going about their business.

The Block Arcadeblock-arcade-social-snappers-photography

This arcade is off Collins Street and Elizabeth Street.  There are two entrances.  The Elizabeth Street Entrance is between Collins Street and Little Collins Street, whereas the Collins Street Entrance is between Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street.

As I just mentioned this place is privately owned and operated.  They understand that as it is one of the oldest arcades in Melbourne and well known, that people want to take photos in it, and you are allowed to.  You can use the photos for personal use, but not commercial.  I’ve never tried to use a tripod in there, so I don’t know how they would feel about you using one.  It is a very busy arcade, so I would imagine that it would not be ideal.

It is only open during shopping hours, so if the shops are open it is open.  If you want photos with no people, or almost no people, then I would suggest getting there very early in the morning.  It is open 7 days a week.

National Gallery of Victoria

It is just over the river down St Kilda Road and is open 10am to 5 pm everyday. There is another part to is which is in Federation Square, this is for Australian Art, and the first one I mentioned is for International Art.scgallery-HDR2

You are allowed to take photos pretty much anywhere you like inside the building, of both the building and the artwork.  NO FLASH is allowed.  The only places you really can’t take photos is special exhibition, and they usually have big signs telling you no photography. Tripods are not allowed.

Melbourne Star

This is our version of the London Eye.  It is a bit hard to find over in the Docklands, but you can see it from a long way and you just walk towards it.  You can take photos of the Star, from the ground and up in the air.  If you want to take photos of the city you can, but you are not allowed to use a tripod while on the Melbourne Star.  It is open every day from early to about 10pm.  melbournestar-20140114-6586

They have a website and there is information there about booking tickets and when it is open.  Melbourne Star Website.

Hosier Lane

This is a laneway made famous for the graffiti that is all over the walls in the lane.  The lane is near Federation Square, well across the street, and you get it to via Flinders Street or Flinders Lane, between Swanston Street and Russell Street.  It is a very popular place for tourists to go, so if you want photos without people, you will need to wait for lulls or go there early.  It isn’t LeanneCole-city-20140308-1454the type of place that ever closes, so you might be better off getting there early in the morning.  It is a public street, or public lane.  You can use a tripod there.  On the weekends it is even busier as it is becoming a popular place for people to have their wedding photos done.

Adding to it

It is my hope that other Melbournians and people who have visited can add more places and information to what I have started.  Please leave your information in a comment, or send me an email.  It would be great if all I had to do was cut and paste what you have written.  If you have an image to accompany what you have written, even better.

Gallery, I am including the above photos, but some others of the places I’ve talked about.


  1. Love love love this idea… Can’t say more because I’m heading in for a dinner but great idea., will figure out what I can contribute and ping you.

    January 9, 2015
    • That is great Susan, I hope it works out, I was hoping you would start the New York one. Wait to hear from you, have a good dinner.

      January 9, 2015
  2. Beautiful city and architecture! And fantastic photos, as always. I would love to visit one day. Good luck with your project, I hope many people contribute!

    January 9, 2015
    • Thanks Tiny, it is a beautiful city, I hope so too, would be good if these could be successful.

      January 9, 2015
  3. leecleland #

    Great idea and love how you kept all the items brief but with all the relevant information.

    January 9, 2015
    • Thanks Lee, it seemed like a good idea to keep it very brief, glad you thought I had the right information.

      January 9, 2015
  4. Leanne,

    Great shots of the train station, and I love the concept of interactive fellow photographers’ travel tips/guides! Does this Melbourne post constitute PTT1? 🙂

    Laura and I have emailed about potential for me to send her info on some good locations in Phoenix before she heads there, and am sure she and others will point you in the right direction for your upcoming travel.

    This is a great idea, and I’d be delighted to contribute if you’d like.


    January 9, 2015
    • Wonderful Shelagh, I don’t know what PTT1 is?? I hope it is a good idea, and I really hope people contribute to it as well, that would be great if they did.
      So we could do one on Phoenix that you could start? I will put your name down on the list. Or maybe you could email me and I will keep your email?

      January 9, 2015
  5. This is a brilliant idea and thanks for coming up with it. I have few good friends which are great photographers here in Dublin so maybe we could help you with the post about Dublin? This should become a community project, so please lets talk about it more through emails… yours Muppet and Evelyn

    January 9, 2015
    • You’re welcome, time will tell if it is a good idea, but I hope so. Yes, that would be good too, you have my email address so maybe send an email with Dublin in the subject, so I can store them and get various people to do them. I hope it does become a community project, that would be wonderful.

      January 9, 2015
  6. Love the post and the photos bring back memories of 2013 for me:)

    January 9, 2015
  7. You just get better and better. Beautiful photographs.

    January 9, 2015
    • I hope so, thank you kocart.

      January 9, 2015
  8. Sounds a good idea. Your mention of Flinders St. Station steps reminds me of another possible theme – that of steps as a meeting place. IE:- Flinders St. Stn. Melbourne, Spanish Steps Rome, Marseilles Rly. Stn steps, Post Office steps New York – there must be lots of others. Des.

    January 9, 2015
    • I suppose that is something that could be part of it, like meeting places in the city, under the clocks at Flinders Street is a common one. Thanks Des. Maybe you could do one on it.

      January 9, 2015
  9. This is a brilliant idea to a series. I’ll send you some Oslo stuff, but I guess it’ll take me a few months to get all the images that I need.

    January 9, 2015
    • That would be great Cardinal, let me know when you are ready, best to email me I think. I will keep adding ones to the Melbourne one, and hopefully others will send in places too.

      January 9, 2015
      • Yes, I’ll email them to you when they’re ready. I was thinking about doing it real proper, get all the sweet spots. This means I’ll have to do it during the weekends, but I’ve started a Monthly Photo Challenge now, so it forces me to go out there and get the shots.

        January 9, 2015
      • Sounds like it will be perfect then, good all round. I will wait to hear from Cardinal.

        January 9, 2015
  10. lensaddiction #

    Great post Leanne, I remember some of these buildings from when I was last in Melbourne but I didn’t go inside most of them, I did walk all the way across the CBD to find Hosier lane very early one morning and it was totally worth it, had a ball with those photos.

    I would be happy to do CHCH but it would be less about landmark buildings and more about scenic parts of the city – mostly because all of our landmark buildings are either broken lumps of masonry or now demolished!

    There are some new landmarks appearing tho!

    January 9, 2015
    • Hosier Lane is or was special, not so great now, now it is often ruin by taggers and such, and no one is really looking after it anymore.

      I think that would be great, it doesn’t have to be buildings, or could anything that you think people would like to photograph if they went there, so that makes sense.

      Glad to hear new landmarks are appearing. It was a horrible thing that happened.

      January 9, 2015
  11. A great idea Leanne. Even if people don’t visit it is a great way to get to know a place. It seems to me that there are rules in common with places here – no photos in privately owned complexes – a sense of safety when using a tripod, public areas are open for all and no photos of exhibitions. Some of our art galleries have become less stringent about photographing galleries.

    January 9, 2015
    • Thank you Diana, I hadn’t thought of it being used that way, but that makes a lot of sense. I think many of the rules are the same where ever you go, but hopefully doing more of these helps people realise what they can and can’t do. I will add to my list over time, hopefully it will help people who want to come here. I often get asked what is there to photograph here. I think galleries might be starting to realise that letting people take photos is a good thing, it helps with their promotion.

      January 10, 2015
  12. Absolutely fabulous idea, Leanne!!! We need something like this for NYC 🙂 As for Washington, D.C., we both know someone who knows the city and it’s photo spots very well (shout out to Robin Kent!). Many of his posts already contain this kind of helpful information that he could probably easily put together. So, Robin, if you see my comment, what do you say? 😉

    January 10, 2015
    • Am hoping someone or two I know in NYC can do it 😀 and yes, we both know someone, but I am sure you could help out too, it is your city too Stacy, maybe you can work together on it. I will send him an email, thanks Stacy. 🙂

      January 10, 2015
      • Yup, it’s my city, but Robin knows it much better than I do from a photographic viewpoint. That being said, I’d be more than willing to contribute whatever I can 🙂

        January 10, 2015
      • I’m sure you could both do a great job. Maybe I can ask Robin, he could start it, and when you see it, you can add some things too. I had hoped that people would continue to add to add to them, but I didn’t get anyone telling me anything else about Melbourne, and I know there is a lot more, oh well, guess will have to wait to see if it catches on.

        January 10, 2015
  13. A glorious collection of photos Leanne .. Melbourne has never looked better 🙂

    January 10, 2015
    • Oh thank you Julie, very nice for you to say. 😀

      January 10, 2015
  14. Great blog! So much to explore!

    January 10, 2015
    • Thank you, that is great to hear.

      January 10, 2015
  15. you always manage to use such fantastic angles. Wonderful city!!

    January 10, 2015
    • Do I, sometimes I think I am too lazy. Thank you, I do love this city.

      January 10, 2015
  16. This is a great post! I remember some of these landmarks from my last trip to Melbourne in 2010. I have some of the pictures up on flickr but I’m not sure whether they are good enough to add to your project.

    January 10, 2015
    • What I am looking for is really places you would recommend to people coming to Melbourne who would like to take photos. So it is more than just images, it is information as well. See what you come up with.

      January 10, 2015
  17. Leanne, this is a great idea. My daughter lives in Melbourne and i just love wandering round and shooting the place. I especially like the street art and would agree with your comment that Hosier Lane is no where near as good as it was.

    I wrote a series of blog posts about the various images from the trip that we can find on if you select June 2014 as the month.

    I think my favourite part of town was actually Fitzroy as there is such an array of old and interesting buildings and people.

    January 10, 2015
    • Sounds great, why don’t you write about Fitzroy, why you like it, what you liked photographing and maybe some advice about it. Provide me with a couple of photos and I will add it to the post.

      There are so many great places to take photos, I’ve only included a few, I really want people to add more. Thank you.

      January 10, 2015
  18. Beautiful!

    January 11, 2015
  19. This is such a cool idea, Leanne – it’ll be hugely helpful for visitors to know where they can take photos, and what they need to do to get permission. I love the idea that you can print out your own permit! I thought you’d have to lodge a special application and jump through bureaucratic hoops.

    Cape Town is very much a tourist hot-spot, so there’s often loads of people taking photos, but they usually tend to take photos outside, rather than inside buildings. Our shopping centres are a bit touchy, probably because of security issues; if you’re walking around with a proper big camera (DSLR), taking your time and framing shots carefully, a security guard will probably march over and question you. Whereas if you walk around with a smartphone, and your friend poses in front of some interesting backdrop, it’s usually not an issue, as they know you’re not likely to use the photo for commercial purposes.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how this series develops – good luck!

    January 12, 2015
    • I hope so Reggie, would be a fun thing to do as well.

      Maybe you can do one for Cape Town, let me know if you are interested. I think it is it is terrible too how they assume you must be a terrorist or something because you have a big camera, as if a terrorist would draw that much attention to themselves.

      Thank you Reggie, I hope the same.

      January 12, 2015
  20. Ha ha. Yes. Flinders Street Station is a meeting place for sure!
    Don’t forget that China Town in Melbourne is also pretty cool. 🙂 I loved it.

    January 16, 2015
    • I was hoping people would write suggestions Suz, but seems I might have to do it myself. I don’t really know that I have photos of China town.

      January 16, 2015

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