Afternoon Tea at its Best – 11th January 2019

Today consisted of breakfast down at the Elwood shopping precinct with Barb and then a trip into town as B1 and B2 and Di were off to the Windsor Hotel for an afternoon tea.

Trevor and Fras meantime had to do some manly stuff like retrieve Suzy the Suzuki from the mechanic that they had dropped her out to the day before.

The good news is that Suzy is in good shape except for a blocked air conditioning hose. The same can’t be said for Di and the B’s as after the food splurge there were some definitely blocked hoses.

We were seated in the Grand Ballroom for a proper afternoon tea with all the trimmings. We have done a few high teas around the world and this sits in the top two. The best was at a place called Browns in London.

The Hotel Windsor is a five star luxury hotel in Melbourne. It is notable for being Australia’s only surviving grand 19th century city hotel and only official “grand” Victorian era hotel. It was one of those magnificent buildings that was built in 1884 during the gold rush period. It was originally called the Grand Hotel and did not become the Windsor Hotel until 1920 in honour of the British Royal Family.

The hotel has a significant role in the history of Australia as the place where the Constitution of Australia was drafted in 1898. For much of its 20th Century life the hotel, dubbed the Duchess of Spring Street, was one of the most favoured and luxurious hotels in Melbourne. It has hosted many notable national and international guests.

With the wealth brought in from the gold rush and the subsequent need for public buildings, a program of grand civic construction soon began. The 1850s and 1860s saw the commencement of Parliament House, the Treasury Building, the Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria Barracks, the State Library, University of Melbourne, General Post Office, Customs House, the Melbourne Town Hall, St Patrick’s cathedral, though many remained uncompleted for decades, with some still not finished as of 2018.

The layout of the inner suburbs on a largely one-mile grid pattern, cut through by wide radial boulevards and parklands surrounding the central city. These areas rapidly filled with the ubiquitous terrace houses, as well as with detached houses and grand mansions, while some of the major roads developed as shopping streets. Melbourne quickly became a major finance centre, home to several banks, the Royal Mint, and (in 1861) Australia’s first stock exchange. In 1855, the Melbourne Cricket Club secured possession of its now famous ground, the MCG. Members of the Melbourne Football Club codified Australian football in 1859, and in 1861, the first Melbourne Cup race was held.

With the gold rush largely over by 1860, Melbourne continued to grow on the back of continuing gold-mining, as the major port for exporting the agricultural products of Victoria (especially wool) and with a developing manufacturing sector protected by high tariffs. An extensive radial railway network spread into the countryside from the late 1850s. Construction started on further major public buildings in the 1860s and 1870s, such as the Supreme Court, Government House, and the Queen Victoria Market. The central city filled up with shops and offices, workshops, and warehouses. Large banks and hotels faced the main streets, with fine townhouses in the east end of Collins Street, contrasting with tiny cottages down laneways within the blocks. The Aboriginal population continued to decline, with an estimated 80% total decrease by 1863, due primarily to introduced diseases (particularly smallpox), frontier violence and dispossession of their lands.

The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace was a large elaborate Second Empire style hotel in Melbourne, Victoria, built in 1888 at the height of Melbourne’s Boom era, and controversially demolished in 1973. It has gained posthumous fame as the building Melburnians most regret having lost.

As you can imagine, after a day of such consumption we headed home for a plate of salad and a walk along the beach.

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