Victoria’s Biggest Ever Archaeological Dig To Get Underway

13 April 2018

Victoria’s biggest ever public transport project – the Metro Tunnel – will undertake one of the state’s largest archaeological digs.

On the corner of Swanston and La Trobe streets, fast food outlets and a residential tower have been demolished to make way for an entrance to the new underground State Library Station.

Building demolition at this site is now complete with the Metro Tunnel set to transform the face of the city and breathe new life into parts of Melbourne’s CBD.

Now that the site is clear, work has started to prepare for the massive Metro Tunnel archaeological dig that will uncover some of the city’s earliest history previously sealed below the surface.

Preparations for the big dig include initial archaeological assessments of ground conditions to determine the digging approach and predict what might be found below ground.

Work will soon get underway across seven sites in the CBD, with digs at a further three sites on Little La Trobe Street also expected to start later this year.

Archaeologists and historians expect to find a large collection of artefacts at each site dating back more than 180 years, when John Batman first settled Melbourne.

In the 1880s, the future State Library Station site was home to the manufacturing of horse drawn carriages with buggies regularly parked along this section of Swanston Street.

A strip of fast food outlets and Port Phillip Arcade have almost been demolished on the site of the new underground Town Hall Station at the corner of Swanston and Flinders streets near the Young and Jackson Hotel.

This iconic part of Melbourne opposite Flinders Street Station and St Paul’s Cathedral was first developed in 1837 and was home to a girl’s school and many small businesses, including a wine merchant and printers.

Archaeologists and historians are eager to see what is uncovered in one of the city’s most well-known strips and what it reveals around Melbourne’s colourful history.

Uncovered artefacts will be cleaned and analysed to better understand how Melbourne’s early settlers lived and how Melbourne has developed into the city it has become.

Metro Tunnel construction is underway and the project is on track to be complete by the end of 2025, a year ahead of schedule.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan

“We’re getting on with building the urgently-needed Metro Tunnel Project which will transform the face of our city with five new underground stations and turn-up-and-go services.”

“These archaeological digs will be the biggest in Victoria’s history and are expected to uncover a large collection of artefacts dating back to the days of Melbourne’s earliest settlers.”

“The Metro Tunnel will untangle the City Loop so more trains can run to and from some of Melbourne’s fastest growing suburbs.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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