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Adrift in Melbourne

Melbourne’s streets have always been marvellous—but the proud facades of the nineteenth-century boom aren’t the half of it.
What about the stories behind them?
The great corset scandal of Melbourne’s belle epoque;
The heritage-listed toilets out the back of the Rialto;
The exploits of the women who ran the brothels in Little Lonsdale Street;
The reason George Mallaby starred in Homicide wearing a hat two sizes too small.

This book contains a series of walks created by Robyn Annear to showcase the hidden histories we might scurry past every day, the buildings now gone and the extraordinary characters who inhabited them.
Charming, erudite and frankly gossipy, Annear’s highly entertaining guide to Melbourne past and present need not be experienced on the move. But whether you enjoy it from a tram stop or an armchair, Adrift in Melbourne will inspire you to unleash your inner flâneur on the lurking surprises of this great city.


3RRR: Breakfasters (2:45:00)   
ABC News (video)    
ABC News: ‘Whelan the Wrecker is here’: The demolition firm that transformed Melbourne over a century   
ABC Radio Melbourne: Mornings (2:05:49) 
ABC Radio Melbourne: Saturday Breakfast     
North Melbourne Books   
Saturday Paper ($)   

Robyn Annear
About the Author

Robyn Annear’s books include Bearbrass: Imagining Early Melbourne, Nothing but Gold: The Diggers of 1852, Nothing New: A History of Second-hand and Adrift in Melbourne. Her podcast ‘Nothing on TV’ presents stories from Trove historical newspapers. Robyn also appeared in the popular 2022 documentary, The Lost City of Melbourne.

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Text publication date:
30 November 2021
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Praise for Robyn Annear
andAdrift in Melbourne

‘Quite frankly, reading anything written by Robyn Annear is a complete joy. She writes as if it’s just you and her chatting away, strolling through the streets of our wonderful city. I consider this book essential reading for anyone who loves Melbourne. It is the perfect antidote to the last two years…Before you know it, you’ll be completely enchanted again by our city. And it’s all because you became friends with Robyn Annear. Lucky you.’

‘Annear tackles her sprawling subject matter with her trademark wit and her knack for singling out the perfect historical reference. Nothing New is one of those books that will annoy the hell out of anyone who isn’t actually reading it because you can’t help but blurt out, ‘‘Listen to this bit’’.’

‘[An] entertaining and insightful history…[Nothing New] is a veritable treasure trove.‘

‘Robyn Annear is the perfect guide for this city tour, comprising seven walks (which can be done on foot or in your armchair)…There’s a gallery of characters too, but none more interesting than the city itself.’

‘An unexpected delight. Annear writes history with a smile but with a deadly acerbic stare…On this tour of Melbourne we are in the best possible hands.’

‘An entertaining romp and joyous celebration of a city that keeps on giving.’

‘It is a privilege and a pleasure to walk the streets of Melbourne guided by Robyn Annear.’

‘Annear is a charming and intelligent guide…A lively sense of humour suffuses the pages.’

Other editions ofAdrift in Melbourne
  • Adrift in Melbourne
    ISBN: 9781922459206
    30 November 2021
    Buy ebook