More than just a quiet place to recharge your phone battery and pinch free wifi.

If you’ve spent any time roaming the grid-like streets of Melbourne, there’s a reasonable chance that you’ve stumbled across the heritage-listed State Library of Victoria. A distinguished CBD landmark, surrounded by twenty-first-century skyscrapers, that is impossible to miss.

It’s one of the few places in this concrete-heavy city that boasts a lush green lawn. In fact, I’d go as far to say it’s the nicest spot in Melbourne to sit and watch the world go by; given it’s a sunny day of course. Comfy bean bags and large parasol umbrellas are sprawled across the grassy slopes during the warmer months; these are snapped up pretty swiftly though. You’ve got to be quick!

State Library Victoria Lawn Entrance

The lawns are abuzz with eager minds.

If you can tear yourself away from the relative calm of the lawns and make your way up the neighbouring steps, past the novelty-size chess set, through the colonnades and into the building, you’ll experience one of Melbourne’s most accessible heritage locations.

Now, I know exactly what you’re thinking, ‘Josh, why would I want to spend my hard-earned travel hours at a library’. Firstly, why so disparaging? We’re all friends here. But yes, secondly, you are well within your rights to hold this point of view; libraries haven’t garnered the most ‘rock-and-roll’ reputation over the years. But bear with me.

State Library Victoria Cowen Gallery

The Cowen Gallery is just one of many galleries and exhibition spaces.

The State Library of Victoria is more than a stuffy room filled with dusty books and dustier librarians. Here are 3 definitive reasons to visit this CBD gem.

It’s the perfect place for a traveller to work.

If you need to ‘work to travel’ like me, then you know how uncomfortable it can be cooped up in temporary accommodation when you’re when you’re trying to earn a quid. The State Library has a relatively speedy (and not to mention free) internet connection, plenty of seating, convenient drinking fountains and various ready-to-use learning facilities.

Not here to work, eh? Well, what about the architecture?

State Library Victoria Dome Reading Room

How is anybody supposed to concentrate in such a spectacular setting?

It’s flipping beautiful!

I can honestly say I’ve never been so startled by the inside of a building. My expectations were blown away; it totally took me by surprise. You know a library means business when it has a dedicated gallery! In fact, the State Library Victoria has a bunch of different galleries, exhibition spaces and installations to help distract you from work or study. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to procrastinate, and there may be no better place in Melbourne to divert your concentration.

Don’t care much for architecture? Alright, let me have one more crack at this.

The Library contains Ned Kelly’s suit of armour.

Yep, that’s right. Australia’s bullish answer to ‘Robin Hood’, Ned Kelly, has a permanent exhibition containing his original bullet-riddled armour! The country’s most famous steel ensemble is on display, accompanied by an abundance of photographs and eye-witness accounts from the era. There may be nothing more ‘Australian’ than the legend of the Ned Kelly gang. Ah ha. Yep. There it is. I hooked your curiosity. I knew I would!

Keen to explore more? There are free tours of the State Library and its various exhibitions held each and every week.

Get the lowdown.


Open daily. Mon–Thurs 10am–9pm, Fri–Sun 10am–6pm. More details on their website.




Getting there

The State Library is very central in the CBD. It’s right alongside the Melbourne Central Train Station and the Melbourne Central Tram Stop on Swanston Street.