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Donkey Wheel House

Architect: Twentyman and Askew, 1891

City of Melbourne | C45

Building Description

A rare example of Victorian Venetian Gothic design, the building pays tribute to one of Melbourne’s most innovative companies. With numerous Gothic features to the façade and extensive Victorian fittings internally, this is a fine example of a Victorian office building built to reflect the success of its original occupants.

Designed by prominent architectural firm, Twentyman and Askew, the building is noted for its Gothic-styled façade and original 19th century Victorian office interior, which includes the tiled entrance and foyer, leadlight windows, and wooden staircases.

Following the closure of the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company (MT&OC) in 1919, the building was used as office and retail space, before gradually falling into disrepair. In 2008, the building was purchased by the donkey wheel Charitable Trust who oversaw refurbishment works, retaining and celebrating much of the original design elements including the basement with a catacomb design intermingled with beautiful lightwells.

MT&OC’s tram system, one of the most extensive in the world at the time, helped shape the development of Melbourne. Fittingly, what started out as a centre of transport innovation, bringing mass transit opportunity to Melbourne, is now a centre of social innovation – still dedicated to improving the lives of everyday people.

What's On

Hear stories of the history of the building and how it came to be the home for a number of Australia’s most important charities, social enterprises and purpose driven organisations. Tours will highlight the building’s many features, visit multiple floors and the rarely publicly open basement.

The Winter Feast by Kinfolk at Donkey Wheel House
Sit down to a seasonal winter supper prepared by Sibling & Kinfolk chefs – but don’t get too settled. Each course will be served in a different room of this iconic 19th century building, taking you on a journey through the architecture, stories & into hidden subterranean spaces.

Saturday 27th of July, Tickets

Need to Know

  • Open: Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 July 10am–4pm

  • Tour Type: Open Entry, Guided

  • Tour Details: Tours depart every 20 minutes, running 20 minutes in groups of 20

  • Access: Limited mobility, all ages

  • Notes: Refreshments and toilets available

  • Kids Activity: Children’s entertainers will provide light relief for those waiting in line.

  • Building Type: Workplace

  • Architecture Era: Victorian (1851-1901)

  • Transport: Tram stop: 1-Spencer St/Bourke St on routes 86, 96

  • Photo Credit: Love Bree Photography

Location

673 Bourke Street, Melbourne 3000, Melbourne VIC

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