The blog is back! I’ve been on hiatus for the past couple of years with posting to the blog and working on the website. Like everyone, I’ve had a crazy ride since the last time I posted here. So what’s been happening? Here’s a quick rundown, along with some photos of life over the last few years.

In March 2020, I was living in Thailand where I’d been living since late 2019 and expecting to stay for another six months. My thesis writing was going really well and I’d expected to finish it in the time I had left in Thailand. But, in the end, I rushed back to Australia on the last day that Singapore Airport was open before COVID-19 closures.

My office view on Koh Phangan in 2019. It was tough, I’m telling you!
My 2020 office view in Melbourne during my quarantine. This doesn’t show the bed taking up most of the rest of the room 😀

Over the next two years I kept working on the thesis in lockdown in Melbourne while doing other history projects, having a part-time university job, and doing some university marking. We moved twice from a tiny one bedroom into ultimately a two bed plus study, where we both had a study to do our online teaching/meetings and work-from-home. Having an outdoor space finally after years also meant LOTS of pandemic-gardening-PhD-procrastination times!

In 2022, when everyone was slowly emerging from lockdowns, I was still hunkered down finishing the thesis. I did my completion seminar (sort of like a viver or defence but less scary I think!) in May, which went really really well (I might post the text of that sometime soon). Then in July I went to a big in-person history conference, caught up with friends, and promptly caught COVID.

A bit of a holiday from thesis writing. The Australian Historical Association Conference 22 in Geelong. Which was fabulous but ended up giving me COVID 😀
A quick whip through the Sydney Arcades on a last-minute research trip in November 2022. This is the Queen Victoria Building, ostensibly built as a ‘market’ in 1898, but always intended as a grand arcade.

Despite it really knocking me around, I spent the next six months working hard and finishing my thesis, which I handed in on 14 December! It was such an amazing feeling after all that time working on it. While I hadn’t and still haven’t lost passion for the subject itself, I was very keen to be actually finished the thesis. It was so amazing to have a Christmas break without working on (or feeling guilty about not working on) my thesis.

So, in early March, after less than three months, I got the results back as a pass with no changes! Though I did have to do some typo corrections and proofs, there were no substantive changes to the content. This is so pleasing when you know, yes, you’ve done a good job, but your examiners might feel you need to do a bit more.

Exhausted but happy after thesis submission on 14 December. I’d had about six hours sleep in 48 hours at this point. I also couldn’t stand my office anymore so moved into the loungeroom for the final couple of weeks. This image largely hides the mess!
Getting to enjoy the Brunello my parents bought in 2007 and saved for my PhD graduation. It was sublime. So amazing to actually fully enjoy Christmas with my thesis out of the way.

In early April, I got the okay to submit the final version to our university repository and the thesis should be conferred (I officially became a Doctor of Philosophy) in mid- to late May. My graduation’s likely set for early August and I can’t wait to wear the funny hat 😀 Meanwhile, I’m heading off to the UK to be on a panel at the Journal of Urban History 50th anniversary conference in July and then head to some archives for research in England and Scotland, with a quick side trip to Ireland.

Depositing the final version of the thesis in April 2023.
Urban wanderings in Sydney again after the final version submission, April 2023. QVB featuring again, together with the new Sydney trams/light rail.

This blog is going to be more regularly update from now on with topics from the thesis and things that I didn’t really get to go into much detail on or had to leave out all together due to work length, including more biographies; individual histories of arcade buildings; some reminiscences from the experience of thesis writing and research; and more discussion on what was sold in the arcade shops and the experiences of those that worked and visited. I’ll be redesigning the site and hopefully adding some sort of virtual exhibition space, as well as digital humanities/visualisation work that I’d like to do in the coming year.

Please keep posting comments and tell me more about what you’d like to learn on the site.

And don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, as well as taking note of my business website, Epigraphein, where I offer professional history research and writing, editing and proofing..

So stay tuned and glad to be back!

Feature image: celebrating 130 years of the Block Arcade, while lining up to buy Easter treats at Haighs, April 2023

Queens Arcade Melbourne
Queen’s Arcade, Melbourne, Interior. St Gill, 1856. State Library Victoria

I know I’ve been very very quiet lately! I actually have lots of prepped posts but have been super busy over the last six months madly writing my thesis plus conference papers plus journal articles (this is good!). Today I’m writing Chapter Two and came across just the best advertisement for the Queen’s Arcade, placed in the newspaper in its opening days in October 1853.

Nineteenth-century newspaper advertisements were often entertaining and appealed to the reader through a variety of methods, including in this case … rhyme. It shows that the arcade’s owners, a consortium of well-off middle-class Melbourne businessmen, aimed provide a the wide variety and mix of tenants and produce for the consumer who visited.

Much like today’s modern shopping mall, everything shoppers desired could be found at the arcade – clothing and accessories, fabrics jewellery, musical wares, art materials, luxury consumables and onsite refreshment rooms. This gave them (ideally) no cause to go elsewhere, and the diversity and variety available seemed to place the new novelty of the arcade in an ideal position to become the centre of shopping and social life in Melbourne.


THE Belles and Beaux of Melbourne’s Town to aid,
What can be better than the Queen’s Arcade for
A pleasant lounge in summer’s sultry days,
Well shelter’d from old Sol’s o’powering rays;
And when the hot winds drive dust helter skelter
What place than this more cool and fit for shelter?
When the wet season makes our town a swamp.
The Queen’s Arcade is dry and free from damp;
And here the Melbourne belles may walk at ease,
And choose what rare commodities they please.
I’ll run them over with your kind permission
First, we’ve G. Goldsmith’s Bonnet Exhibition,
To suit complexions whether dark or fair;
Jewels and ornaments, both rich and rare;
Scents of all kinds, exquisite and recherche,
With papier mache, too, and gutta percha;
Drapery, hosiery, splendid silks, and satin,
With books in English, French, German, and Latin.
“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,”
And fewer bosoms. Here you’ll find the best
Quadrilles by Jullien, D’Albert’s waltzes fast,
The Arcade Polka, Winterbottoms’s last,
Bijouterie and articles of dress
On your attention, ladies, let me press,
That everything for widow, wife, or maid,
Is to be met with in the Queen’s Arcade;
And if the ladies’ smiles we only win,
Of course the gentlemen will soon drop In,
And they will find that them we’ve not forgot,
Havannahs and cheroots, a splendid lot,
With meerschaums, cutties, snuffs of every kind,
In short, all tastes will here be pleased; you’ll find
Rings, watches, pins, and studs in rich array.
Coats, trousers, vests of patterns neat or gay,
Canes, riding whips, and boots of patent leather,
With Mackintoshes to resist the weather.
To sum up all, an Universal Mart,
We mean to be a Gallery of Art,
And every exertion will be made
To please the public, in the Queen’s Arcade.
Refreshments of the best and choicest kind.
Will also be provided; you will find
Confectionery, pastry, jellies, ice,
Crackers, bon-bons, and everything that’s nice;
And taste it once, you’ll say such lemonade
You never drank but in the Queen’s Arcade.

The Banner, Melbourne, 7 October 1853 (via Trove)


I have finally decided that I really have to do something with this blog! Let’s start with baby steps!

#ArtsHack 2013 was a great series of workshops organised for arts students by the University of Melbourne last year. ITS Research at Uni does the great job of ’empower[ing] researchers to do great things with IT.’

TileMill/Mapbox are in fact the mapping platform for websites and apps like foursquare, pinterest & two of my faves Direct Me NYC 1940 & 1940s New York. The possibilities really are endless & you can see more on the Mapbox Showcase

You can do numerous extremely complex maps in TileMill and my group did a more simple one that pinpointed institutions that displayed antiquities in the city of Melbourne. My own test version was even simpler and, for the purposes of my thesis, I wanted to do a map of locations of nineteenth-century shopping arcades in Australia.

It was very fun to tinker with it but I am not sure for my purpose that I wouldn’t simply be just as happy creating something in Photoshop, with which I am far more familiar. But if you are doing extremely complex mapping projects, I think TileMill – just one of the many mapping programs around – could be great.

Anyway – here is my humble little map which will give you a great idea of where the Fashionable Promenades were built in 1800s Australia! Never fear … in the next few days I will start giving you some lists of what and where they were!


Ninteenth-century arcades in Australia
Nineteenth-century arcades in Australia