Farewell to Melbourne’s CBD street kiosks

For many years street kiosks have been scattered around the Melbourne CBD, selling newspapers, cigarettes, soft drinks, and snacks.

Newsstand at Swanston and Bourke Street


Flower shop by night

And even fruit.

Fruit stall at Swanston and Collins Street

Tracking down the kiosks

These kiosks are permanent structures designed, built, owned and maintained by the City of Melbourne, and fall into four categories.

Flower kiosks:

• Swanston Street, outside the Melbourne Town Hall
• Collins Street, outside the AXA building between Market and William Streets

Newspaper kiosks:

North west corner of Collins and Elizabeth Street.
• South east corner of Elizabeth and Little Bourke Streets.
• South east corner of Elizabeth and Latrobe Streets.
• North east corner of Bourke and Queen Streets.
• Collins Kiosk – north east corner of Collins and King Streets.
• South east corner of Elizabeth and Franklin Streets.
• North east corner of William & Bourke Streets.
• North west corner of Bourke & Swanston Streets.
• Bourke Street, between Swanston and Russell Streets.
• Swanston Street outside Melbourne Central.
• 21 Swanston Street, outside Commonwealth Bank.
• South east corner of Collins and Queen Streets.
• South west Corner of Spring and Collins Streets.
• Bourke Street corner of Harbour Esplanade, Docklands (outside NAB)

Fruit kiosks:

• Swanston Street – corner Collins Street
• Elizabeth Street – corner Bourke Street (outside GPO)
• Collins Street – west of Queen Street
• Elizabeth Street – south of Collins Street
• Bourke Street – west of Elizabeth Street
• corner Collins and Spencer streets – outside the Rialto building.

And newspaper cylinders:

• 260 Collins Street
• 461 Bourke Street
• 205 William Street
• 459 Collins Street
• Spencer Street, opposite Bourke Street


But given that newspapers printed on dead trees are also dying, there is little use for newsstands any more.

Newsstand cylinder closed up at Swanston and Bourke Street

Many kiosks looking run down.

Footpath kiosk still in place at Collins and King Street

Or boarded up.

Newsstand on the footpath at Bourke and William Street

And so in 2019 the City of Melbourne decided to reclaim the footpath space, and remove nine of the kiosks.

Melbourne nine CBD footpath kiosks will be scrapped before the end of the year.

Two of the kiosks are already gone, and another seven will not have their leases renewed in November.

Councillor Nicolas Frances-Gilley, council transport chairman for the City of Melbourne, told Ross and John the kiosks are being removed due to overcrowding in the city.

“We just really need the space,” he said.

There are nearly a million people using CBD footpaths everyday and that figure is expected to rise to 1.5 million people in 15 years.

“When you put something quite big on the pavement people walk around it and it’s getting people walking in the curb or onto the road and that’s really unsafe,” Cr Frances-Gilley said.

Saying their time was past.

The council’s Street Trading Team Leader Hugh Kilgower said the kiosks, which sell newspapers and small items, had become anachronistic.

“When I was a kid, newspapers were sold at street corners. Council assisted newsagents back in the day with putting structures in place,” he said.

“Over time, the city has changed and evolved and there’s a lot more businesses around – 7-Elevens and supermarkets. The need for those kiosks has changed.”

Mr Kilgower said when the kiosks were installed 30 years ago the city was less active, but now they were creating “bottle necks” for foot traffic. He said this congestion was also a reason for the decision.

Council transport chairman Nicolas Frances Gilley told the Herald Sun the kiosks initially helped activate the city.

“We have great respect for the historical and cultural value of the kiosks, so we have begun reaching out for find new homes for the structures once they are removed,” he said.

Leaving behind fresh patches of asphalt, like this one at Bourke and Queen Street.

Asphalt patch marks where a newsstand was once located at Bourke and Queen Street

Or this concrete plinth at Swanston and Bourke Street.

Concrete plinth marks where a newsstand was once located at Swanston and Bourke Street

But one kiosk I’m definitely glad to see gone is the one at Elizabeth and La Trobe Street, which blocked the entrance to Melbourne Central Station.

Kiosk, bike racks, scaffolding and signage blocks the Elizabeth Street entrance to Melbourne Central Station

Today a fence still blocks access to the neighbouring tram stop, but at least the footpath is wider.

Footpath outside Melbourne Central station at Elizabeth and La Trobe Street now wider, after the City of Melbourne removed the kiosk once located here

And rebirth

But for other kiosks, the City of Melbourne has expanded the range of uses, selecting tenants based on “uniqueness, diversity, experience, capability, past performance track record, customer service, visual presentation, financial, social and environmental sustainability”

This one on Elizabeth Street sells baked goods.

'Wood Frog Bakery' bread stall at Elizabeth and Collins Street

Over on Swanston Street crepes are being freshly cooked.

Newsstand cylinder at Swanston and Little Collins Street now selling crepes

And down the street hot chocolates are for sale.

Fruit stand at Swanston and Collins Street now a Koko Black ice cream, coffee and hot chocolate stall

While a handful of cylinders have been designed for “pop-up” retail use, like this one selling pot plants.

Newsstand cylinder at Swanston and Lonsdale Street now selling pot plants

These five pop-up locations being:

• Adjacent to 236 Swanston Street
• Adjacent to 461 Bourke Street
• Adjacent to 156 Elizabeth Street
• Adjacent to 60 Elizabeth Street
• Spencer Street, west of Bourke Street

‘Mad as Hell’ on location at Newport

The other night I was watching an episode of Shaun Micallef’s ‘Mad as Hell’ on ABC TV, and came across a familiar looking scene.

I swear I’ve seen that tin shed before.

And the next scene clinched it.

It’s the main gate to the Newport Railway Workshops.

Google Street View

Located off Champion Road in North Williamstown.

Google Street View

And I’d been there only a few weeks earlier, at the recent Steamrail Victoria open day.

Martin & King AEC Regal III halfcab bus #592 running shuttles to North Williamstown station

Where I walked past the very same shed.

Looking down between the East Block and West Block sheds


The episode in question was season 14, episode 10 – first aired 6 April 2022.

You can watch if yourself over at ABC iview – and more details over at IMDB and Subs like Script.

Two trains in one platform at Camperdown

Camperdown station on the Warrnambool line only has a single platform, in the middle of a long section of single track railway – but until December 2022 every morning the Melbourne-bound and Warrnambool-bound V/Line services would cross there. The answer is a “reverse cross” – but how did it work?

N463 pauses for passengers with the down Warrnambool pass at Camperdown

The “reverse cross”

The V/Line train from Warrnambool would be the first to arrive at Camperdown.

N471 leads carriage set VN14 into Camperdown on an up Warrnambool service

And arrive into the platform.

N456 arrives into Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

Passengers would board the train, then the conductor would blow their whistle for the train to depart.

Conductor waits for passengers to board the up Warrnambool pass at Camperdown

It would then reverse out of the platform, back towards Warrnambool.

N456 on the up Warrnambool shunts back out of the platform at Camperdown, so it can cross the down pass

The signaller would throw the points towards the crossing loop.

Signaller throws the points at Camperdown for N456 to shunt out to number 2 road

So the train could wait clear of the platform.

N456 shunts into number 2 road at Camperdown

The signaller would then throw the points back towards to the mainline.

N471 and carriage set VN14 wait in number 2 road at Camperdown for a cross, as the signaller returns to change the points back for the down Warrnambool

And change the signals to allow the train from Melbourne to arrive.

Signal 6 cleared at Camperdown for an up train to arrive into the platform

Then wait.

N471 and carriage set VN14 on the up Warrnambool wait in number 2 road at Camperdown for a cross

Soon enough, the Warrnambool-bound train would arrive.

N463 leads the down Warrnambool pass into Camperdown

Pass the waiting Melbourne-bound train.

N465 and VN6 arrive into Camperdown on the down Warrnambool

Passengers for Warrnambool would board.

N463 leads the down Warrnambool pass into Camperdown

And then the train would depart the platform.

N463 leads carriage set VN17 on the down Warrnambool pass out of Camperdown

Leaving Camperdown and the other train behind.

N465 and VN6 depart Camperdown on the down Warrnambool

The signaller would then walk to the Melbourne end of the yard, and throw the points towards the crossing loop.

Signaller has thrown the points for N471 and carriage set VN14 to depart number 2 road at Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

Allowing the Melbourne-bound train to continue on it’s journey.

N471 and carriage set VN14 depart number 2 road at Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

On the single track towards Geelong.

N471 and carriage set VN14 depart Camperdown on the up Warrnambool

And today

November 2022 was the last time a scheduled “reverse cross” happened at Camperdown, or anywhere else in Victoria.

Warrnambool line trains now cross at Boorcan Loop, located a few kilometres west of Camperdown.

Up end of Boorcan Loop viewed from Oswells Road

It was built as part of the $284.7 million ‘Warrnambool Rail Upgrade’ project.

'Warrnambool Line Upgrade' signage at the Boorcan Loop work site

The new loop at Boorcan is made up of a 185m long loop at the up end and a 912m loop at the down end, forming a crossing loop of 1756m total length, and all remotely controlled from V/Line’s ‘Centrol’ train control centre in Melbourne.

As a part of the same works, the crossing loop at Camperdown was downgraded to a siding.

Footnote from the past

A related move once happened at Marshall station, with counter-peak train put into the loop siding so they could cross Waurn Ponds trains in the opposite direction.

3VL33 stabled in the loop at Marshall, to form the next up

And even further back in time, reverse crosses once occurred at Winchelsea for trains operated by West Coast Railway.

James Brook video

Photos from ten years ago: February 2013

Another instalment in my photos from ten years ago series – this time it is February 2013.

Ding ding

Metcard had been switched off.

Metcard validator onboard a tram, displaying a 'CLOSED' message and a red light

The ‘safety’ zone tram stop on Epsom Road in Ascot Vale was copping a beating.

'Safety' zone at stop 30 on route 57: Epsom Road at Flemington Drive

Route 19, 57 and 19 passengers didn’t have any platform stops along Elizabeth Street.

Z3.119 northbound on route 57 at Elizabeth and Bourke Street

And the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant was still running lunch and dinner tours of Melbourne.

SW6.938 waits for the traffic lights during a lunchtime run

And trains

Evening peak would see massive crowds of pedestrians waiting to cross Spencer Street at Collins Street.

Pack of commuters waiting at the Collins Street Street traffic lights to cross Spencer Street

While on Friday nights, the queues would be at the V/Line booking office, waiting to buy a paper ticket.

Friday night, and V/Line at Southern Cross has a massive ticket queue as per normal

South Yarra station was also becoming surrounded by new apartment blocks, but the single station entrance was struggling to cope – a problem not addressed until 2020.

Hundreds of new apartments crowd the skyline at South Yarra, and a lone station entrance struggles to cope with commuters

But Footscray was getting an expanded station as part of the Regional Rail Link project.

Cleared car park on the northern side of the station

The near-new footbridge demolished to make room for two additional platforms.

Northern stairs up to the temporary footbridge

And Metro had unveiled a new infrastructure inspection train, in an attempt to address a spate of overhead wire failures crippling the rail network.

T377 leads T369 and the inspection carriage towards Flinders Street Station from Richmond

Things that are gone

Melbourne Bike Share was still operating.

Tourist heads up Swanston Street with their hired bike and helmet

One of the operational costs being the need to resupply bikes to empty stands.

Empty rack at the Melbourne Bike Share station on Bourke Street

Remember the “My Family” sticker fad? By 2013 they were on the way out.

Taking 'My Family' to extremes - two adults, four kids, and nine animals

Heritage listed public toilet on Queen Street? It was decommissioned in June 2013 and capped with concrete.

Centre median of Queen Street, just north of Collins Street

Horse drawn carriages leaving a trail of horse crap across the Melbourne CBD? They’re finally banned.

Horse drawn carriage heads along the tram tracks on Flinders Street

And Phillip Island

I headed out to Phillip Island, to look for the remains of the Summerland Estate. The only trace – a few dirt tracks.

Dirt track that is Solent Ave

I also made a detour to Pyramid Rock.

Start of the walking track to Pyramid Rock

Which looked like the name suggested.

Looking out to Pyramid Rock

And on the way back I found a radio tower out in a paddock.

Looking at the symmetrical "T" radio antenna for the Cowes NDB

Turns out it was a non-directional beacon (NDB) used as an aviation navigational aid.

Airservices Australia notices at the gate to the Cowes NDB

It was decommissioned in 2016 thanks to the popularity of GPS based navigation technology in general aviation.


Here you can find the rest of my ‘photos from ten years ago‘ series.

A history of Lynch’s Bridge at Footscray

This is the story of Lynch’s Bridge over the Maribyrnong River in Melbourne’s west, connecting Smithfield Road in Flemington to Ballarat Road in Footscray.

Transmission lines beside the Maribyrnong River at Footscray

On the downstream side is the original 1936 bridge, with art deco-styled decorative parapets, pillars, and light fittings.

In between the 1934 and 1990 bridges

And beside it a far more utilitarian concrete bridge completed in 1992.

Looking north towards the parallel 1990 bridge

In the beginning

Lynch’s Bridge was an early crossing place on the Maribyrnong River for those headed west of Melbourne, with owner of the neighbouring Pioneer Hotel, Michael Lynch, operating a punt on the site from 1849. A competing crossing was operated by Joseph Raleigh at Maribyrnong, which replaced his punt with a bridge in 1858.

SLV photo IAN20/12/66/4

And so in 1863 Michael Lynch petitioned the government for permission to replace his punt with a pontoon bridge, provided he was granted a half acre of land on the eastern bank of the river for the abutments and approaches.

Members of the Essendon and Flemington Council not in favour of private bridges, and the matter was debated, with one local resident questioning the motives of Lynch.

In September 1864 a motion was passed to prohibit Lynch from building a bridge, but it soon rescinded, with the new bridge in use for Melbourne Cup Day 1864.

‘Flemington Racecourse from the Footscray side of Salt Water River, Victoria ‘ by J Ryan

Local residents found the toll gate a nuisance, but Lynch talked up his bridge, telling Western District sheep and cattle owners they only needed to pay a single toll if headed to the sheep and cattle yards on the opposite bank.

As a result in 1866 the Essendon and Flemington Council proposed purchasing Mr Lynch’s bridge, as did the Footscray Council in 1867. However it took until in 1882 for the bridge to be brought under public ownership, the Footscray Council abolished the toll and requesting the Commissioner of Public Works pay the reminder of the loan.

A replacement bridge

However that was not the end of the saga – in October 1901 Lynch’s Bridge was closed by the Public Works Department due to it falling into disrepair, and a Mr J. Byers erected a pontoon bridge beside it to carry traffic to Flemington Racecourse, for a “small toll” of one penny. The debate as to who should fund the cost of a new bridge continued in the months that followed, with a tender finally awarded in December 1902 – eighteen months since the bridge was closed.

MMBW plan 781

The new bridge opened without ceremony in May 1903, after contractors finished their work and left it open for traffic, with members of the Flemington and Kensington Council holding an official opening a few days later, without the involvement of the Footscray Council who also funded it.

SLV photo H2151

The new bridge was built of timber, and had a lifting span in the middle, which sometimes caused delays to river traffic, and had high ongoing running costs.

Haven’t we been here before?

September 1929 was a familiar event – Lynch’s Bridge closed after being declared unsafe for traffic, reopening after temporary repairs were completed over a three week period.

The Footscray Council and the City of Melbourne then considered a number of options for a permanent crossing – a new five span reinforced concrete bridge for £38,750, a new three span steel bridge for £35,900, or extending the life for the existing bridge for five years for £2,250. The Footscray Council objected having to fund half the cost of a new bridge, delaying the start of construction, with an agreement finally reached in January 1936 for the Country Roads Board to pay half the cost of the project.

Opened in 1939, the new Lynch’s Bridge was built on a different angle to the timber bridge it replaced, allowing Ballarat Road to be realigned to meet Smithfield Road, eliminating a dangerous curve on the Footscray side. The Footscray Council suggested naming the new bridge ‘Gent’s Bridge’ after the Town Clerk of Footscray, but it came to nothing.

In between the 1934 and 1990 bridges

Traffic troubles

As Melbourne grew, the amount of traffic using Lynch’s Bridge grew – 43,000 vehicles per day using it in 1989, half the volume that used the West Gate Bridge. And the area became known as a blackspot for motor vehicle crashes, with the 1985-88 period seeing 79 separate incidents, including 16 head-on collisions, and nine deaths.

The Age, 23 November 1989

Leading in November 1989 to a coronial inquest being opened into a number of recent fatalities at the site.

Excessive speed was the main cause of car accidents on Lynch’s Bridge in Kensington, an inquest on three deaths on the bridge was told yesterday.

Sergeant Noel Osborne, of the accident Investigation section at Brunswick, said that despite measures to make the four-lane bridge safer, most vehicles approached it too fast. 

The deputy state coroner, Mr Graeme Johnstone, is holding joint inquests on Kevin John Lewis, 35, of Broadmeadows, and Emily Jane Stonehouse, 4, of Werribee, who were killed in an accident on 23 October 1988, and Matthew James Simmons, 25, of Box Hill, who died in an accident on 14 February this year.

Lynch’s Bridge crosses the Maribyrnong River near Flemington Racecourse. The approach from Footscray, on Ballarat Road, has three lanes that narrow to two before a sharp left-hand bend on to the bridge. The Smithfield Road approach, from Flemington, is two lanes.

Sergeant Osborne, asked by Mr Johnstone to suggest safety measures, said that even if the Ballarat Road approach was narrowed to one lane in an effort to slow traffic, he believed many drivers would still try to take the bend too fast. He said the answer was to duplicate the bridge.

“That in my mind is the answer. We certainly would not be having the head-ons as we are now. The number of people killed at this location has caused me great concern. It appears that not a great deal has been done.”

Mr John Connell, of the Roads Corporation, said speed cameras had shown that more than 70 per cent of vehicles approaching the bridge on Ballarat Road travelled faster than the 60 kmh speed limit. The fastest speed had been 139 kmh despite signs recommending 55 kmh.

Peter James McDonald, a truck driver from Maidstone who crosses Lynch’s Bridge regularly, said that at the time of the accident involving Mr Simmons, the camber of the road pulled vehicles to the right as they turned left on to the bridge from Ballarat Road. The inquiry is continuing

The inquest heard that duplication of the bridge had been proposed in 1975, with the cost in 1989 money estimated to be $3 million.

In his findings to the 1989 inquest, Coroner Graeme Johnstone noted that the 1938 bridge was not unsuitable for the volume and speed of traffic passing over it, recommending that the Ballarat Road approach to the bridge be restructured so that the three-to-two lane merge is further from the sharp bend onto the bridge, and that the VicRoads make duplication of the bridge a priority in their road improvement program.

As a result, a duplicate bridge on the upstream side of original bridge was completed in 1992, allowing the 1936 bridge to be dedicated to westbound traffic.

The duplication of Lynch’s Bridge and road approaches at Flemington was opened to traffic in April 1992 and has eliminated one of Melbourne’s worst accident blackspots. In accordance with a Coronial Inquiry recommendation to fast track the works, new technology for bridgeworks and roadworks construction was used. Road approaches over poor ground conditions utilised polystyrene as lightweight fill – a first for VicRoads and Australia. The method reduces road settlements to manageable levels and achieves cost savings over more conventional alternatives. The project was completed in June 1992 at a cost of $5.5million.

And finally – another upgrade

In August 2019 it was announced that Lynch’s Bridge would be upgraded as part of the Western Road Upgrade public–private partnership.

A National Trust-listed bridge which was once the main gateway to Melbourne’s west will be upgraded this week as part of the Victorian Government’s Suburban Roads Upgrade.

Member for Footscray Katie Hall today announced the start of important work to rehabilitate the Ballarat Road Bridge, under the $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade.

The crossings over the Maribyrnong River are steeped in history, with the outbound Lynch’s Bridge built in 1936 and heritage listed for its “historical and technical significance” by the National Trust in 2005. Millions of Victorians and visitors would have crossed this bridge in some form.

Lynch’s Bridge also holds technical engineering significance, as one of the first steel and concrete crossings designed so the reinforced concrete deck works together with the steel beams.

The historic five-span bridge sits alongside its more modern counterpart known as the Smithfield Bridge, which was built in 1990.

The 108-metre bridges will undergo work to strengthen them for the future for up to 45,000 vehicles which travel over them every day.

It is anticipated they’ll be used by up to 50,000 cars and trucks daily by 2031.

The art-deco style of Lynch’s Bridge will be preserved as safety barriers are upgraded on both bridges, and footpaths and drainage will also be improved.

There will be some lane closures in place as this work is underway to ensure road crews can work safely and quickly.

Work included.

– removed old barriers and replaced them with new safety barriers
– installed cathodic corrosion protection to protect the metal bridge supports from rust and deterioration
– resurfaced the road on the bridges and on approach to the bridges
– removed features no longer needed such as broken lights.

You had to look close to see the changes.

Major Roads Project Victoria photo

But the big new crash barriers are easy to see when driving past.

New steel crash barriers either side of the outbound carriageway

But one thing that is obvious is the focus on motor vehicles, not active transport.

There is a grass median strip atop the bridge, but no separated bike lanes!

The bridge has enough space for a grass median strip!

There is a grass median strip atop the bridge, but no separated bike lanes!

Yet pedestrians are forced into a narrow footpath.

There is a grass median strip atop the bridge, but no separated bike lanes!

And cyclists are given a narrow strip of asphalt, centimetres from passing vehicles.

There is a grass median strip atop the bridge, but no separated bike lanes!

Pretty crap upgrade, isn’t it?

Footnote: water under the bridge

When I visited Lynch’s Bridge in December 2020, I noticed these new looking steel additions to the piers of the 1992 bridge.

Reinforced piers beneath the 1990 Ballarat Road bridge

My initial thought was strengthening work linked to the Western Road Upgrade project, but turns out I was wrong – it’s actually linked to the West Gate “Tunnel” Project.

West Gate Tunnel Project photo

A post on their Facebook page dated 11 November 2021 mentioning the work.

🚧 West Gate Tunnel Project crews have started working on modifications to streamline the piers on the Smithfield Road Bridge.
⛴️ These works will help during high flows in Maribyrnong River and mitigate flooding once our new Maribyrnong River bridge is built. Gaps between the columns will be filled with concrete to create a wall type pier with rounding at both ends.

The works required to compensate for new piers in the Maribyrnong River at Footscray.

West Gate Tunnel Project photo

Forming part of the elevated roadway between Footscray Road and the actual West Gate “Tunnel”.

West Gate Tunnel Project photo

And the work at Lynch’s Bridge seems to have flown under the radar – the only other mention of it I could find was a single line in the West Gate Tunnel Project “Final Report for Submission to the Minister for Planning” for March 2019 to August 2019.

Flood mitigation works completed at Smithfield Bridge

I wonder what difference these works made to the October 2022 Maribyrnong River flood?