so you think you can campus: a tour of parkville

28 February 2015

Redmond Barry Building
Named after the judge who sentenced Ned Kelly to hang (also the first Chancellor of the University and founder of the State Library), this is the tallest free-standing brick building in Melbourne.

Old Law Quadrangle
This was the first building on campus, and a historical epicentre for Australia’s labour history: stonemasons downed their tools in 1856 and joined the marches that led to the world’s first 8-hour working day. Check out the plaque on the northern wall for more info.

The original University fence
With only a single segment remaining outside the Medical Building, this impressive wrought-iron fence once encircled the entire campus at a time when you could only enter University grounds as student or staff. This changed when the University agreed to make its grounds public in exchange for free gas lighting by the City of Melbourne. The original gate from the main Grattan Street entrance is now located at the entrance to the Systems Gardens.

1888 Building
This grand Victorian building was the original home of the Melbourne Teachers College until 1989 when it merged with the University. The emblems above its entrance – rose, thistle, clover – reflect a time when Ireland still belonged to the UK.

Lemon-scented Eucalypt
This magnificent gum was spared during the construction of the Sidney Myer Asia Centre in the late 90s by outcry from the staff of the University.

University Lake
Now the ‘Union Lawn’, a beautiful ornamental lake once occupied the space between Union House (formerly, the Luncheon House) and the new School of Design Building. It was filled in the 60s due to flooding and, apparently, increasingly wild Orientation antics.

University Square
Prior to the University redeveloping the site in the 90s, there was an operating Bowls Club on this site for 125 years. Unfortunately, this all occurred just before the release of Crackerjack, and the ensuing revival of the sport. Imagine barefoot bowls on a Friday night!

The University as a Park (anywhere)
When the Victorian Parliament legislated for the University in 1853, kangaroos and emus still roamed the ‘grounds’. Before trams delivered tens of thousands to Parkville each day, ladies and gentlemen used to travel to campus by horse and cart to picnic.

River Red Gums
These trees – including this enormous one near University House – predate the University and link it to its history on the land of the Wurundjeri people. Such trees were used as an essential source of shelter, bark for canoes and tools. Visit to learn how to take Billibellary’s Walk.

Systems Gardens
A lost oasis on campus. As you squeeze between the Botany and Babel Buildings, look for the curved line of bricks in the ground – these demarcate the original perimeter of the original concentric gardens. The surviving larger trees allude to this demarcation around the remaining octagonal tower in its centre.

Professor’s Walk
The first professors – all Law and all male – lived upstairs in the Old Law Quad, alongside all of the male students. As the University grew in its disciplines, more professors were recruited and each lived in their own residence on campus, which was where the Baillieu Library now resides. University House – now a private club for Staff and Academics – is the last remaining house (built for Proffessor Nanson, who was renowned for his work on our preferential voting system).

Old Arts Building
The only building on campus intentionally built in a style not of its time: opened in the 20s, it is built in the Tudor-Gothic tradition. Check out the roman numerals on the clock face – can you notice anything odd?

University Car Park
Sitting snugly under South Lawn, this car park built in the 50s was featured in the film Mad Max. It was engineered so that no buildings could be built above it, and has since endured as the largest open space on the original Parkville campus. Note that all the trees on the Lawn are planted equidistant from one another due to being planted directly above the columns beneath in the car park.


Artwork: lost on campus map, reimagined by Farrago

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *