Flinders Street Railway Station is more than just a railway station. This iconic Melbourne landmark is Australia’s oldest train station, and sees 110,000 commuters pass through its gates daily. The 1,500 trains that come and go through Flinders Street Railway Station each day do indeed help Melbourne residents and visitors alike get where they need to go, but there’s more to this heritage-listed landmark than just transportation.
The History Of Flinders Street Railway Station
Flinders Street Station was originally known as Melbourne Terminus, back in 1854. It was then essentially a collection of weatherboard sheds, and the first steam rail station in Australia.
In 1859 the next two train stations opened— Princes Bridge and Spencer Street— but these were not connected to Flinders Street Railway Station until years later. At the time, trains from Flinders Street went to nearby Port Melbourne and St. Kilda, with trains heading for rural areas went through Southern Cross Station.
In the early 1900s, the increasing demand on train travel meant that Flinders Street Railway Station needed to be developed. The railway commissioners organised a competition to find a new design for the soon-to-be-improved station, where the winner would also win 500 pounds in addition to having their design constructed. The winners were J.W. Fawcett and H.P.C. Ashworth, who designed the station as we see it today.
Construction took ten years to complete, and the structure was completed in 1910. In addition to the railway station and platforms themselves, the upper floors were home to a library, gym, and lecture hall (which was later turned into a ballroom).
The famous clocks that still feature today were part of the original design, and are so ingrained in Melbourne’s history that there was uproar when they were digitalised in 1983. Although their plaques date them as from 1916, that’s actually when they were overhauled— they’ve been there since the station’s very beginnings, installed over the original weatherboard station in the 1860s. Between being such a part of history and the fact that they’re still working, the outcry over their digitalisation convinced the railway to reverse their decision and to keep the original analogue clocks.
Flinders Street Railway Station takes up two blocks in the city, and is home to the fourth longest railway platform in the world, which extends 708 metres. Due to the station’s popularity with locals and visitors alike, this classic Melbourne landmark is a piece of Melbourne’s history and present, and is sure to feature predominately in its future as well.
Where To Find Flinders Street Railway Station
As soon as you see the yellow façade, green copper dome, and classic arched entrance, you know you’ve arrived at Flinders Street Railway Station. You’ll find it in the middle of the action, at the intersection of Flinders Street and Swanston Street in the city, between Docklands and East Melbourne.
Thanks to its central location in the CBD, getting to Flinders Street Railway Station is quick and easy regardless of where in Melbourne you’re coming from. You can get there by walking, by bus, by tram, or of course, by train. Coming from the centre of the CBD by foot, the walk will take you approximately 10 to 12 minutes via Elizabeth Street.
Flinders Street Railway Station stands across the road from Federation Square, and is also in close proximity to St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Flinders Street Railway Station As A Melbourne Landmark
The phrase ‘Meet me under the clocks’ may not mean much to some, but to Melbourne locals, it’s a phrase they understand all too well. The aforementioned clocks are the row of 13 clocks underneath the Flinders Street Railway Station entrance, each depicting the next departure time for many of its various train lines.
Meeting a date under the clocks is a great Melbourne tradition, and people were doing so in this spot even before the current station was built. However, it doesn’t need to be a date you’re meeting— any Melbourne local will know which clocks you mean, and you can find groups or couples of all ages meeting here.
The clocks are a classic meeting spot even for those not arriving by train, as they’re in such a central location with the added bonus of being protected from the elements. And in the unpredictable Melbourne weather, this classic meeting spot offers all the predictability you could need.