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

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7 Responses to “Farewell to Melbourne’s CBD street kiosks”

  1. Dominique says:

    I wish they would bring back the fruit ones. I’d love to be able to grab fresh fruit of market quality throughout my work day.
    The fruit available at the Metro Woolies and 7/11s just don’t cut it

  2. Therese Quinlan says:

    Good report, Marcus, well done. The issue of overcrowded footpaths is dear to my heart.I tried to interest the council in making footpaths “keep left”, just as streets are, to reduce the number of collisions between pedestrians, but they weren’t remotely interested. Lonsdale Street adjacent to Myers is especially overcrowded and unpleasant because numerous bus services travel along Lonsdale Street, and prospective passengers have to wait near the bus stops with hundreds of people rushing past and bumping into them, not to mention motorbikes and scooters being ridden on the footpath. Queen St has the same problem.

    • Marcus Wong says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post! And you’re quite correct about how horrible the footpaths along that part of Lonsdale Street are.

      • Liam says:

        Keep left would scarcely bring benefit to a congested street. The only answer is to widen the pedestrian area on that street and parallel streets. We could also increase pedestrian priority at intersections, to reduce the crowds waiting to cross. Every turning vehicle holds up a dozen or more pedestrians. I fail to understand why the entire hoddle grid is not “all way stop” for the pedestrian cycle.

        This would also create induced demand as more people choose to walk than ride a crowded tram or sit in traffic. Given foot traffic is the most space efficient method of transit, that is not such a bad thing.

  3. Peter Burke says:

    The kiosk you showed in Elizabeth Street that you say sells baked goods closed three years ago.

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