Australians still love to shop in malls and arcades. Three of its eastern cities have elegant, stylish shopping centers that double as tourist attractions. The star of them is Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building. Almost across the street from it is the also worth-seeing Strand Arcade that ends at the ever-crowded Pitt Street Mall, which gives access to Westfield Sydney. Westfield contains many upscale shops and inexpensive-for-Sydney restaurants. Melbourne has the Block Arcade and the Bourke Street Mall that Where Magazine calls this city’s “true retail heart”. Brisbane, another city where public shopping seems to be a daily, required habit, has the Queen Street Mall and the baroque Brisbane Arcade.
Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building has seen its 100th birthday, fills an entire downtown block, and has 5 floors. The lady it is named for would be comfortable shopping there now because it remains elegantly Victorian. The only store she might not understand is The Art of Dr. Seuss. She would certainly appreciate its clocks, especially Chris Cook’s Great Australian. It features 138 figures and 33 scenes from Australian history. Captain Cook’s 1770 landing is to the left of the map of Australia. My favorite figure is a boy dangling a chain. A sailing ship continuously circles this clock’s exterior and passes just above him. The other exceptional clock is Neil Glasser’s Royal Clock that shows scenes of English royalty like King Charles I’s execution. You can see the Queen Victoria Building for free unless you buy some souvenirs and have cake and coffee in style. Pierre Cardin called the Queen Victoria Building “The most beautiful shopping Centre in the world”. He would know.
Melbourne’s Block Arcade opened in 1892 on Collins Street. It contains more than 30 great shops, but its longest lines are waiting to get into the Hopetoun Tea Rooms, one of this arcade’s original businesses. You can have an English tart with your tea (there are 20 to choose from) in a classic Victorian setting.
We walked through but didn’t shop in the Brisbane Arcade when we took a walking tour of this Queensland city.