Eureka! “Batmania” at its best

Standing tall at a height of 300 meters, the Eureka Tower is home to approximately 1,500 Melburnians across 92 floors of purely residential apartments (yes, really!), and an absolute recommendation for everyone visiting this beautiful metropolitan city. Except maybe for people with a fear of heights…

Eureka Tower

Eureka Skydeck 88

The Eureka Skydeck, a viewing platform on the 88th floor of the tallest building in Melbourne, is the world’s first to provide visitors with the spectacular ‘Edge’ experience, a glass box that jolts out of the building to get a magnificent view of the tower’s surroundings. And the ground approximately 300 meters below your feet.

Eureka Skydeck

A bit of Victorian history

Before I go on telling you more about and showing the magnificent views from the highest viewing platform in the Southern Hemisphere, I feel that a short history lesson (I promise!) on the foundation and expansion of Melbourne in the 19th century is in place.

Why? Because the following story will explain the name of Melbourne’s highest tower. Oh yes, and you might just find out what the title of this post is all about too. 😉

No Batmania for Mr. John Batman

In 1835, a man named John Batman came to the area of modern-day Melbourne with the intention of founding a new colony. A colony away from Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), across Port Phillip Bay, one that he was planning to call “Batmania”.

According to legend, he set out to ‘buy’ a mere 500,000 acres of land from the local Aboriginal tribes and claimed to have signed a legal deed with the major chiefs.

Botanical Gardens, Albert Park and Port Phillip Bay, seen from Eureka Tower, Melbourne
Melbourne Botanical Gardens (left) and Albert Park (right) on Port Phillip Bay

Unfortunately for Batman, his treaty was soon to be declared void by the British rulers in Sydney, stating that it had ‘no effect against the rights of the Crown‘. In other words, Batman had no business buying land over here, since a man called James Cook had already claimed all of the land as British territory in 1770 after exploring the eastern coastline of ‘Terra Australis’.

Bad news for Batman, but not for the soon-to-be city of Melbourne. It was founded less than two years later, in 1837, and named after the British Prime Minister of the day William Lamb, whose title rang ‘2nd Viscount Melbourne’.

Melbourne Inner City seen from Eureka Tower
The inner city of Melbourne on the Yarra River

The Victorian Gold Rush

The new colony named after the British queen was bound to be successful. In 1851, the same year that Victoria gained independence from New South Wales, gold was found in the region.

‘Marvellous Melbourne’, as the city was lovingly dubbed, would soon turn into one of the biggest and richest cities in the British Empire. Not surprising, considering that between 1851 and 1896 – with the 50s and 60s being known as the “Gold Rush” – a rough estimate of 1.9 million kilograms (!) of gold has reportedly been mined in Victoria.

Golden Reflection in the glass panels of the Eureka Tower, Melbourne
Golden reflection in the glass panels of the Eureka Tower

Eureka Rebellion

Success comes at a price, and so it did for Victoria too. In 1854, a group of gold miners in Ballarat revolted against the colonial authority of the United Kingdom, a movement known as the Eureka Rebellion, or the Battle of the Eureka Stockade.

Although the actual (armed) battle only lasted about half an hour, it resulted in approximately 27 deaths, most of whom were miners. The rebellion sparked a period of civil disobedience by miners, which eventually led to universal male suffrage rights in Victoria, thanks to mass public support for the captured rebels.

Battle of the Eureka Stockade, Watercolor by J. B. Henderson [1834]
Battle of the Eureka Stockade, Watercolor by J. B. Henderson [1834]
The Eureka Tower is named after this famous Gold Rush rebellion. The top 12 floors of the tower are decorated with special gold-plated mirrors, and the red bar on the side of the building represents the blood shed during the battle of the Eureka Stockade.

Melbourne vs. Sydney

By the turn of the 20th century, after having turned into a boomtown at the heart of the Victorian Gold Rush, Melbourne had become the largest – and richest! – city after London in the whole of the British Empire. Much to the dislike of Sydney, of course.

As the first city to be founded in the new territory of Australia, Sydney felt entitled to become the nation’s capital after the country’s independence in 1901. Yet from 1901 to 1927, Sydney was forced to stand at the sidelines as the Parliament House in Melbourne temporarily served as the first seat of national government.

Capital Hill in Canberra seen from the Australian War Memorial
Capital Hill in Canberra seen from the Australian War Memorial

The two cities continued to quarrel until it was finally decided that a new capital city would be founded to serve this very purpose. In 1908, the site of Canberra, at exactly 5 hours driving from each city, was chosen. Soon followed by the foundation of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), because of course the Victorians could not have their nation’s capital be located on New South Wales territory?!

A visit to the Eureka Skydeck in Melbourne

Let’s flash forward back to 2016. After living in Melbourne for 8 months, it was about time that we visited one of the city’s major tourist attractions. Eureka, here we come!

Eureka Tower from across the Yarra River, Melbourne

Although it was a slightly cloudy day, having us somewhat worried arriving at the Tower, the views from the Skydeck on the 88th floor were absolutely STUNNING. We bought our tickets around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, and were lucky enough to find absolutely no one waiting in line for the elevator.

[*2016 prices*: Adult tickets are AUD $20 p.p.+ AUD $12 p.p. for the Edge (optional).]

Once upstairs, we walked all around the building playing a game of recognition with the many different suburbs of Melbourne and taking tens of photos. A hundred? Eh… I might be guilty as charged on that one. :) But you would too if you saw this view!!

Melbourne's Sports Precinct, the MCG, and the suburb of Fitzroy, seen from the Eureka Tower, Melbourne
The suburb of Fitzroy, with Melbourne’s Sports Precinct & the MCG in the foreground

Another pleasant surprise was the coffee, served with a smile (!), at the little restaurant corner on the 88th floor. Amazing setting + tasty cuppa = happy Marly having a blissful moment of relaxation.

Happy Coffee Moment at the Eureka Skydeck, Melbourne
See Flinders Street Station, Fed Square, and St Paul’s Cathedral down there? :-)

All of that while staring at the changing colors of the foliage in the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. Talk to you later!

Melbourne Botanical Gardens on the Yarra River
Melbourne Botanical Gardens (right) and the Sports Precinct (left) on the Yarra River…

Note: For everyone planning a visit to the Eureka Tower, as the guy at the ticket counter explained to us, it doesn’t matter if you are visiting on a not-so-perfectly-sunny day. If the clouds are up high, magnificent will be the views from the Sky(deck)! 😉

Stunning sunset from Eureka Tower on a cloudy day (!) in Melbourne, Australia
Added advantage: clouds in the sky make for an even more beautiful sunset! :-)

 

Do you enjoy going up a tower when visiting a new city?
What is the highest tower you have ever been on? And where was that?
Where in the world stands your favorite tower? What made it (extra) special?

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