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Russell Place Substation

City of Melbourne | C43

Russell Place Substation is one of the oldest substations in the city. Three large, oil-cooled transformers in separate compartments in the underground substation step the incoming voltage down to 6,600volts (from 22,000volts). Metal-clad 6.6kV switchgear in adjoining compartments controls outgoing high-voltage distribution feeders to subsidiary substations in the immediate area. Melbourne was one of the first places in the world to have a public electricity supply and was the first in the southern hemisphere. Russell Place is particularly significant, being the site of the 1882 Victorian Electric Company’s (subsequently Australian Electric Co.) central generating station, which supplied electric street lighting in nearby parts of Bourke and Swanston Streets, plus a number of local private premises. In 1894, the Melbourne City Council established its own electricity generating station in Spencer Street and subsequently took over the CBD assets and customers of the Australian Electric Co. In 1929, Russell Place was rebuilt as a rotary converter substation. It was a continuously manned installation until it was rebuilt again in 1949 as a total underground substation equipped with glass bulb mercury arc rectifiers. Russell Place was the last substation to supply DC to customers in the CBD.

Need to Know

  • Open: Sat & Sun 10am - 4pm

  • Expect Queues: Yes

  • Special Note: This is an operating substation with live electrical equipment. Clothing requirements: enclosed flat shoes (no heels) and full length clothing. Please note no large bags or long metal objects are permitted in the substation, such as tripods or umbrellas. No pram/ stroller or wheelchair access. Multiple fliights of stairs. Limited mobility access

  • Tour Type: Guided, queue

  • Tour Details: Two tours will run every 30 minutes with 20 people per tour. Tours will run for 30 to 40 minutes. Ground level transformer bay, transformer corridor, DC room, switch rooms. Presented by CitiPower and Powercor.

  • Building Type: Industrial

  • Age Restrictions: 14 years and above

  • Tram Stops: Stop 6: Swanston St/Bourke St on routes 1, 3/3a, 5, 6, 8, 16, 64, 67, 72, 86 and 96.

  • Photo Credit: James Withers


Russell Place, Melbourne 3000, VIC


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