There's no doubt society is fascinated by the criminal underworld, demonstrated by the success of hit TV shows such as Underbelly
To find out just what has been going on in the darker side of his home town, Dermott decided to go on a Melbourne Crime Tour.
Everyone boarded a 21-seater bus for the four hour tour, starting at Old Melbourne Gaol. 135 people, including bushranger Ned Kelly, were hanged there.
Dermott's guide, Dodgy Di, conducted the tour which takes in some of Melbourne's seedier parts.
First stop was the Railway Hotel in West Melbourne. It was a location in Underbelly, Romper Stomper, many episodes of Stingers, My Brother Jack and as far back as On The Beach. The hotel was a favourite watering hole of the late Lewis Moran and is where the late Carl Williams fled after shooting Mark Moran. He ordered a bottle of wine, hoping his presence would be captured on CCTV, thereby giving him an alibi.
In its early days, the hotel was frequented by railway workers and today it's a waiting point for rail travellers and those wanting a meal, a drink in the beer garden and maybe a game of pool. The main bar is one of the longest in Australia.
Just ahead is one of Melbourne's most beautiful cathedrals St Mary Star of the Sea. The funeral services for underworld figures Jason Moran and Alphonse Gangitano were held there.
Next was La Porcella restaurant where in 2004 Andrew 'Benji' Veniamin, a hired hitman, was shot by Mick Gatto, He died in a little alley off the kitchen. Gatto was charged with murder but found not guilty, on the grounds of self-defence.
The Turf Bar in Queen Street was the scene of the Great Bookie Robbery in 1976. A well-organised gang stole between $6 and $12 million from bookmakers. For almost a century, bookies had met at the Victoria Club's former premises to settle up on the first business day after a major metropolitan race meeting. The cash was delivered by armoured car and the gang made a fake getaway in a van. They had actually rented an office in the same building and that's where the money was. It was never recovered and just one of the men was charged but not convicted. He was killed by police in 1992 during a heist at Melbourne Airport.
Tours have serious and sad stories, as well as amusing and entertaining snippets. Over the four hours the tour takes in lots of Melbourne's landmarks the MCG, Queen Victoria Market, the Arts Centre & Cultural Precinct and Carlton, known as 'Little Italy' because of its many restaurants, patisseries and delis.
The tour finishes with 'An Arresting Experience' at Melbourne's oldest prison – Magistrate's Court and Police City Watch House. It's been the heart of crime, law and order in Melbourne since the 1840s. Nothing has been changed since police and inmates left in the 1990s. It's been a museum ever since.
Dermott was arrested for public nuisance, and even though the arresting policeman was an actor, being handcuffed and marched to a cell gave him that sinking feeling. Fortunately for us all, he wasn't strip-searched!
Around Melbourne's infamous crime scenes.
Melbourne Crime Tours, run by Go West Tours, cost $60 per person. Tours depart Old Melbourne Gaol and visit numerous sites within Melbourne's inner city where many notorious crimes are relived. They run for four hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon and 8am and noon on weekends.
Hotel Ibis Melbourne rooms start at $119 a night.
Virgin Australia has one-way flights to Melbourne from:
- Adelaide $88
- Sydney $95
- Brisbane $119
- Perth $189
The fares are available for a limited time only so log on to www.vaustralia.com.au for further details.
Prices correct at 24.09.2011.
For further information
Ph: 13 6789
Melbourne Crime Tours
The Old Melbourne Gaol
377 Russell Street
Ph: 1300 736 551
Hotel Ibis Melbourne
15-21 Therry Street
Ph: (03) 9666 0000