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Substation ‘J’

City of Melbourne | C37

Substation J is one of a number of electricity zone substations located in the Melbourne CBD. It was originally built to distribute electricity from the adjacent Spencer Street Power Station. While the power station was demolished in 2007, substation J continues to provide power to adjacent streets through four 22kV/6.6kV transformers. The power station has been replaced by Upper West Side residential apartments, however there are reminders of the former use of the site such as the control room, which was decommissioned in 1982 but remains largely intact, and the heritage-protected cast-iron water tank, which was installed in 1927. This tank was part of a hydraulic power system that pumped pressurised water from the Yarra River through pipes to operate the CBD’s lifts and wool presses. The former Spencer Street Power Station was believed to be linked to the Yarra River and other parts of the city by underground canals. One tunnel, built in 1915, ran from the Power Station all the way underneath Spencer Street down to the site now occupied by the Melbourne Aquarium.

Need to Know

  • Open: Thursday 3 & Thursday 1 January 10am-4pm

  • Photography Restricted: Yes

  • What's Open: Parts of the working electrical substation including live power transformers. Parts of the former Spencer street power station, including one of the generator control panels and battery rooms are explored as well as vast network of hallways, kitchens and laboratories.

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

  • Tour Type: C37

  • Tour Details: Tours at every 40 minutes, running for 40minutes, in groups of 20

  • Access: Able bodied access only

  • Building Type: Industrial

  • Facilities: Food and beverage available

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


Corner Lonsdale and Spencer St, Melbourne 3000, VIC


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