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20 incredible facts about Melbourne that you probably didn't know

20 incredible facts about Melbourne that you probably didn't know
The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd

Prove you are more Melbourne than Melways, Molly Meldrum and the MCG put together with this arsenal of 20 incredible, little-known facts

1. Squizzy Taylor’s bullet holes are said to be in the Bella Union. Look for them next time you’re tearing up the dance floor at Mr McClelland’s Finishing School.

2. Don’t even think about operating an air con unit, pool pump, central heating system or hot water system in the City of Brimbank before 7am or after 10pm on a weekday, because fines WILL apply.

3. Beloved music den The Tote was originally located at 136 Johnston Street and was an illegal gambling venue hidden behind a teashop. Punters entered through a gap in the lane at the rear, reached via Sackville Street.

4. During the building of the new home for Circus Oz, a sealed up concrete bunker with a single bed and newspaper was discovered under the car park. It rumoured that this bunker belonged to gangsters or bookies who built tunnels under Collingwood.

5. George Raymond Johnson – the architect behind North Melbourne Town Hall, the Meat Market, Northcote Town Hall, Collingwood Town Hall, Fitzroy Town Hall and many other civic buildings – has had most of his dedicated theatres torn down, but his town halls live on as theatres.

6. In 1966, pupils and a teacher from Westall High School were wrapping up sports class when they saw a flying saucer with a purple-grey hue over the oval. The story bagged two front covers in The Dandenong Journal, but only a couple of column inches in The Age.

7. Squizzy Taylor once claimed sanctuary at Abbotsford Convent when on the run from local authorities. He was put up by the Sisters in a shared room, but had disappeared by morning.

8. Billy Thorpe reckons he buried a few kilos of weed in the ground. When he came back to collect it, Toorak Library had been built over it.

9. Parliament House has gun slits with a clear line of sight down Bourke Street to defend it from mobs during the Great Strikes of the 1890s.

10. The model who posed for the infamous ‘Chloe’ portrait at the Young and Jackson pub (pictured here) threw a party and drank poison, due to unrequited love with the painter who immortalised her.

11. James Kilgore, one of the members of the Symbionese Liberation Army who kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst, fled to Melbourne and majored in African history at La Trobe.

12. ACMI's 87m-long Gallery One, which hosts major exhibitions, was originally one of Flinders Street Station's underground platforms.

13. IM Pei – the architect who designed the Louvre's glass pyramid – helped to design our very own Collins Place. The development originally called for subway pedestrian tunnels to link up with Parliament House and Parliament Station, but this phase of the plan was never started.

14. When Hamer Hall opened in 1982, a special private bathroom was created for visiting dignitaries Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

15. We have the largest organ in the southern hemisphere – the Grand Organ in Melbourne Town Hall, that is.

16. Melbourne’s CBD has the highest ratio of street furniture in the world.

17. Swanston Street, our civic spine, has more pedestrians per day than London’s Regent Street.

18. It is widely rumoured that Flinders Street Station wasn’t meant for Melbourne – it was meant for Mumbai but the plans got mixed up. In Mumbai, there’s the very ornate, gothic Victoria Station.

19. Literary journal Overland initially was initially published by members of the Communist Party of Australia – whereas its rival Quadrant was published by funding received from the CIA.

20. The Seamstress Restaurant on Lonsdale Street was formerly a sweatshop, a Buddhist monastery and a whorehouse.

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