Inside the glass cone of Melbourne Central, amongst a sea of shops, restaurants and modern architecture stands an old building, Coop’s Shot Tower. The bring building was once responsible for creating lead shot which is used as ammunition in weapons (mainly shot guns these days), it doesn’t do that any more, I remember many years ago before the centre renovations it housed a restaurant or cafe- I had a HUGE strawberry sundae from it, but now it houses a skate shop and an R.M Williams.
It’s also the home of the Shot Tower Museum. I’d seen the yellow sign indicating that there was a museum inside the R.M Williams for many years, but as I’ve never really been an R.M Williams wearer (despite my links to country Australia) I’d never ventured inside.
A couple of days ago I decided that was no longer an excuse and I headed in.
The museum is small, but it’s also free, and offers a good distraction for those weary of shopping. The two room museum goes over the history of the surrounding area, from the formation of Melbourne as a city through to the modern renovation of the Melbourne Central shopping centre.
There’s an interactive video screen, which was far more technologically advanced than what I expected to find in the museum. On the screen you can take a tour of some of Melbourne’s heritage spaces, watching contrasting video footage of ‘then’ and ‘now’. It’s all controlled with the movement of your arms. Pretty space age, kind of cool!
In the second room is a bit of a historical display covering the shot tower, it’s history, and how it worked. You can peer up the tower where lead shot used to pour down, as well as look at some old steam winch machinery and other bits and bobs.
All signage and information in the museum has a modern, very well designed feel to it. The shot tower room has interesting lighting. In fact even though it’s only a small museum, it’s got so much more going for it than I expected. I thought I’d be in a little old, naff museum reading about the history of lead pellets, but instead I was surprised by an engaging, interactive, modern looking display.
The museum won’t keep you busy for the whole day, but it’s a great way to spend 5-10 minutes, perhaps while your partner tries on some country clothing, and Melbourne Central is currently full of other things to do and see (including the classic old Melbourne Central clock that still puts on a show every hour). There’s plenty of places to eat, shop an relax- as the old Myer buildings are being renovated the old bridges across are now being used for different things, including a chill out community garden, with real vegetables and herbs growing and lots of recipe cards.
You’ll find chain and boutique stores, including on of my favourites, Anton’s, which has the most dapper clothing in all of Melbourne, and fantastic window displays.
They’ve also recently installed a library! Yes that’s right, the little Melbourne Central Library, where you can lend books for free, and add to the collection. Now you don’t see that every day in a shopping centre!