Bourke Street, Melbourne

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"Bourke Street" redirects here. For the painting by Tom Roberts, see Bourke Street (painting).
Bourke Street
Bourke Street Mall, between Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street looking west
Coordinates 37°48′50″S 144°57′52″E / 37.8139°S 144.96452°E / -37.8139; 144.96452Coordinates: 37°48′50″S 144°57′52″E / 37.8139°S 144.96452°E / -37.8139; 144.96452
General information
Type Street
Length 2 km (1.2 mi)
Major junctions
West end Docklands, Melbourne
East end Spring Street, East Melbourne, Melbourne
Suburb(s) Melbourne CBD

Bourke Street is one of Melbourne's best known streets. Historically been regarded as Melbourne's "second street", with the main street being Collins Street, and "busier than Bourke Street" is a popular catchphrase. Bourke Street has traditionally been Melbourne's entertainment hub. In its heyday it was the location of many of Melbourne's theatres, cinemas as continues as a major retail shopping precinct. Today a section of the street adjacent to the main department stores is closed to all traffic except trams and known as the Bourke Street Mall, one of Melbourne's main pedestrian mall (the other being Swanston Street (Swanston "walk") and one of the city's main tourist destinations.

Bourke Street is named for Sir Richard Bourke, the Governor of New South Wales in 1837 during the drafting of the Hoddle Grid.[1]


Route 96 trams on Bourke Street

Bourke Street runs roughly from east to west[2] and it bisects the CBD (known as the Hoddle Grid) along its long axis. Bourke Street runs between the parallel Little Collins and Little Bourke streets.

There are two stretches of Bourke Street; the older CBD stretch and the newer Docklands stretch. The older stretch intersects with Spring Street (overlooked by Parliament House) to the east and Spencer Street to the west.

The newer stretch is bounded by the Southern Cross Station (former Spencer Street Station) to the east and will intersect with the Collins Street expansion to the west in the future.


Bourke Street (1886) by Tom Roberts, oil on canvas on composition board.

Concepts for a Bourke Street Mall were drawn up as early as 1964 by Robin Boyd and Frederick Romberg[3] however the ambitious multi-platform design which separated cars from pedestrians was never realised.

The plans were eventually scaled down, with pedestrians sharing space with a grade level tram line. More recently Swanston Street was given similar (and equally successful) traffice management measures.

The pedestrian mall was officially opened in 1983 by Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

The mall received a major facelift in preparation for the 2006 Commonwealth Games and elevated tram superstops were later installed.

Bourke Street Mall[edit]

The Bourke Street Mall is a pedestrian and tram-only strip between about 200m north of Swanston St, and Elizabeth Streets.

The GPO Melbourne, now redeveloped as Swedish clothing store H&M

Department stores[edit]

The atrium of Melbourne's flagship Myer department store, which yields a yearly profit of $300 million.[4]

Bourke St Mall is home to two major Australian luxury department stores that house many well-known brands.

  • Myer – Myer's nine-floor flagship store.
  • David Jones – David Jones' second-flagship store.


There are several arcades and shopping centres that run off the Bourke Street Mall including:

  • GPO Melbourne, the former general post office was converted into an upmarket shopping mall in 2005 after being damaged by fire. All stores vacated GPO in 2013 to allow space for Swedish clothing store H&M. There are also cafes, bars and restaurants located within the building.
  • Royal Arcade.
  • Strand Arcade.
  • Centrepoint Shopping Centre.

Notable restaurants[edit]

Flower Drum restaurant in Market Lane, off Bourke Street opened in 1975 and is one of the most highly acclaimed Chinese restaurants in Australia, receiving multiple awards. In 2003, The New York Times Associate Editor R.W. Apple Jr. remarked that it may well be the best Chinese restaurant in the world.[5]


Myer Christmas Parade (2007)
Flashmob die-in protest in 2010 on the ninth anniversary of the Afghanistan War

The first Myer Windows display Christmas of 1956, the year of the 1956 Summer Olympics and has been an annual tradition since with the windows decorated in a different display each Christmas aimed at children and their parents.

Commercial Zone[edit]

Bourke Street is a commercial zone lined by glass-paned skyscrapers, especially on the western stretch of the street. It is home to the new National Bank headquarters by the Victoria Harbour in Docklands, Commonwealth Bank Centre building, Bourke Place, Marland House, National Bank House and AMP Square.


Bourke Street has played a historically significant part in Melbourne's cinema industry. It was home to the city's first permanent cinema (although this was initially established near Princes Bridge), and by 1913 had developed into Melbourne's principal cinema precinct. In 1908, Arthur Russell began screening films at St. George's Hall, which was rebuilt as Hoyt's De Luxe Theatre in 1914, marking the beginning of the Hoyts cinema chain.

Bourke Street remained a centre for cinema-goers until quite recently. In 2005, the Hoyts cinema moved to larger premises at the Melbourne Central shopping centre. On 15 February 2006 the Village cinema closed down, leaving Village cinemas at nearby Crown Casino as the main Village branded city cinemas. The Chinatown Cinema, which inhabits the former Hoyts Midcity cinema, is the only cinema left in Bourke Street. On nearby Collins Street, the newly expanded Kino Dendy cinemas continues to be cinema drawcard. The adjacent Russell Street Greater Union cinemas closed in 2013 and has since been demolished.

Bourke Street from Southern Cross Station


Tram routes 86 and 96 travel the length of Bourke Street and directly through the mall.

Parliament railway station is located at the eastern end of Bourke Street near the corner of Spring Street and is part of the underground city loop for the suburban rail network.

Southern Cross Station is located at the western end of Bourke Street and is a major transport hub for train and bus services throughout Victoria including shuttle buses to Melbourne and Avalon airports. A pedestrian bridge at Southern Cross Station provides access from Bourke St to Etihad Stadium and Melbourne Docklands.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Melbourne’s Streets & Lanes" (PDF). The Royal Historical Society of Victoria. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Untitled", Bay Of Plenty Times XIV (1804), p. 4, 21 February 1885 
  3. ^ Bourke Street development, Frederick Romberg and Robin Boyd, 1964, courtesy Robin Boyd Foundation and Diane Masters. State Library of Victoria collection.
  4. ^ "Myer pins hopes on midyear sale as revenue slides". Sydney Morning Herald. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  5. ^ "Local flower a NY jewel". The Age. Australia. 30 December 2003. Retrieved 8 January 2012. 

External links[edit]