The History Of Melbourne's Degraves Street In 1 Minute

Harry Vincent / © Culture Trip
Harry Vincent / © Culture Trip
Photo of Monique La Terra
19 March 2018

Degraves Street blends alfresco Parisian charm with Melbourne’s signature street art, and this unique combination has been luring locals for years and has since become one of the city’s most popular tourist spots. Situated between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets, branching north off Flinders Street, the laneway was named after merchants Charles and William Degraves, who settled in Melbourne after moving from Hobart in 1849. The brothers purchased an acre of land off Flinders Street, and in 1851, they built a steam-driven flour mill which is rumoured to have cost £10,000. William Degraves went on to become a member of Victoria’s Legislative Council between 1860 and 1874.

Harry Vincent / | © Culture Trip

On the 31st of August 1955, the Degraves underpass was built to allow pedestrians to travel between Flinders Street Station and Degraves Street without having to cross bustling Flinders Street. The Art Deco arcade features black marble columns and pink tiled walls as well as display cases which are used by the not-for-profit public art organisation, Platform Artists Group Inc. Founded in 1990 by Andrew Seward and Richard Holt, the group organises exhibitions by local and international emerging visual artists. Platform Artists Group Inc is Melbourne’s longest-running artist-run initiative and one of Melbourne’s most highly visible art spaces with approximately 35,000 people a week passing through the space.

Harry Vincent / | © Culture Trip

Today, Degraves Street is at the heart of Melbourne’s café culture and acts as a thoroughfare for those heading from Flinders Street to Flinders Lane, roughly connecting to Centreway Arcade. As you pass by the many cafés, including The Quarter, Degraves Espresso and Cup of Truth, you will be enticed by the strong aroma of freshly ground coffee. If you’re after Mediterranean cuisine, then stop by Il Tempo, Café Andiamo and La Citta for pasta, pizza and fresh panini. Little Cupcakes, Waffle On and Doughnut Time offer the perfect treats to accompany your coffee. Degraves Street is also home to a number of hidden shopping gems including WMR records, the Florentine paper merchant Il Papiro, soleDevotion and Clementines.

Harry Vincent / | © Culture Trip

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel – and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travellers and friends who want to explore the world together.

Epic Trips are deeply immersive 8 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and enough down time to really relax and soak it all in. Our Mini Trips are small and mighty - they squeeze all the excitement and authenticity of our longer Epic Trips into a manageable 3-5 day window. Our Sailing Trips invite you to spend a week experiencing the best of the sea and land in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm – and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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