Melbourne Literary Tour – bookshops and writers

In 2008, Melbourne was named the second UNESCO ‘City of Literature’, due to its rich history of writing and its thriving literary festivals, bookshops, publishers, writers, libraries and literary monuments.

Adventure into many of the 70 booksellers in the CBD guided by a Melbourne writer. Many are hidden in obscure and historic locations including basements and upper floors. Purchase books if you wish. Learn about the history of Melbourne writers and read extracts from stories, poems and books connected to the streets of Melbourne. Many stores specialise in genres such as art, rail, military, foreign language, animation, poetry, philosophy etc. 

Books on our tour set in the streets of Melbourne
List of Melbourne bookstores
Melbourne Poetry Map
Melbourne short story map

Map of vinyl record store

Melbourne Literature Events and Calendar

About our tours: Tours are usually 2 – 2.5 hours by arrangement at any time of your convenience with a minimum of 1-2 people any time – day time or evenings.
Bookings: (03) 9090-7964, 0408 894 724; Email:

Cost: $50 each up to 5 persons; $35 each for 6-10 persons;

School groups: $300 – $450 per day depending on number of classes and students. If the cost is a problem, talk to us!

A History of Melbourne’s writers and their books  by Des Cowley and John Arnold

In Flinders Lane, near Roach’s store,
Were bogg’d a dozen, less or more;
Two dapper dames, return’d from shopping,
Were, much against their wishes, stopping:
A brace of New Chums, sprucely drest,
|In long-tail blues, – their very best, –
Look’d rueful at their spatter’d breeches,
Vow’d Melbourne’s Streets were beastly ditches

George Wright’s poem ‘Adventures on a winter’s night in Melbourne 1857

The creative imagining of Melbourne began when John Batman sailed up the Yarra River on 8 June 1835 and wrote in his journal ‘this will be the place for a village’. The figures of John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner, generally cited as the founders of Melbourne, have been largely passed over by literary writers. Batman was the subject of the play Batmania (1997) and his courtship of his future wife Eliza features in Robert Close’s novel Eliza Callaghan (1957). Fawkner is a minor character in Eric Lambert’s The five bright stars (1954). However, the convict William Buckley (1780-1856) has provided writers with one of their most enduring characters. The title of James Bonwick’s biography, published in the year of its subject’s death, William Buckley, the life of the Wild White Man and his Port Phillip Black Friends (1856), was followed by Edward Williams’ De Buckley, or incidents of Australian life (1887), Marcus Clarke’s ‘William Buckley, the wild white man’ (1871) and John Bernard O’Hara’s Songs of the south: second series: The wild white man and other poems (1895), and in the 20th century Alan Garner’s Strandloper (1996), Barry Hill’s award-winning book of poetry Ghosting William Buckley (1993), and Craig Robertson’s Buckley’s hope (1980).

Richard Howitt, an early settler to the Port Phillip District, published Impressions of Australia Felix (1845). ‘The native woman’s lament’, narrated by a Kulin woman, is a sympathetic lyric about the loss of traditional hunting lands. A similar sentiment is to be found in Kinahan Cornwallis’ Yarra Yarra, or, the wandering aborigine: a poetical narrative (1857). ‘To the river Yarra’, on the other hand, celebrates the river and the new European settlement on its banks.

Thomas McCombie’s minor novel, The colonist in Australia, or, The adventures of Godfrey Arabin (1845), deals in part with his experiences in the Port Phillip District. Of greater significance is George Henry Haydon’s novel The Australian emigrant (1854), based on his Five years’ experience in Australia Felix (1846), a factual account of his time in the colony. Rolf Boldrewood’sOld Melbourne memories (1884) includes memories of the Melbourne he came to in 1841. Georgiana McCrae arrived in the same year and provides in her journals, edited by her grandson Hugh McCrae and published as Georgiana’s journal in 1934, a detailed account of Melbourne in the 1840s. With her son George Gordon, she is also the subject of the title poem in Christina Mawdesley’s collection The corroboree tree(1944). More …