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Why I Started Depot Adventures by giving free walking tours of Melbourne

By 26 June 2019August 22nd, 2021No Comments

The story of Melbourne’s free walking tour

If you’re not a Melbourne local (or even if you are!), It’s easy to get swept up in the endless beauty that Melbourne has to offer. For me personally, It’s impossible to be bored by it. That’s the foundation of why I started giving free tours of Melbourne and why I’m so passionate about giving that experience to both locals and non-locals alike. Our free tour of Melbourne sets the stage for a city full of boundless energy and life. We wanted it to be the starting point for anyone’s adventure here.

To begin on the right foot – Hi! I’m John, and welcome to Depot Adventures. Going forward, we’ll be sharing our favourite parts of Melbourne, of Australia, of travel and of things that interest us here at Depot Adventures.

I’ve been a tour guide for 7 years. With that much guiding under my belt, I’ve gathered my fair share of guiding stories. One summer I carried a group of ladies to safety after flash floods enveloped Venice’s San Marco Square. The year before I led a fleet of RVs down Route 66 in the USA. I’ve managed a Croatian yacht flotilla in rough seas. I’ve even guided groups in lederhosen at Munich’s Oktoberfest.

It’s been a great time, but there is one uncomfortable commonality between all these experiences — they cost my clients a lot of money.

Cue, a free Melbourne walking tour!

When I followed my Aussie fiancé to Australia, I knew I wanted to do something different. I started Depot Adventures to be a walking tour company made for everybody. My favourite experiences as a guide are when I start a dialogue amongst people with hugely different backgrounds. I love giving tours where business travellers and backpackers get to know one another. Lucky for me, I got what I wished for.

The company I started launched the Melbourne Free Walking Tour in 2017, and we welcomed 2,000 people to the city we love within the first three months. In one recent week, I personally guided a couple of American business travellers here for a conference, a German busker who brought his ukulele, an Iranian doctor here to study, and a family with young kids on the same tour.

You might think the diverse backgrounds would make for a difficult tour, but you’d be wrong. We all share a common interest in travel, and we all share a desire to know this city in a deeper way. At the end of the tour, I took the group for a pint at my favourite pub in the city. We sat down and shared stories of our past travels and future plans. It was yet another of what have been many happy memories with Depot Adventures.

We don’t just do free tours either, and if you’re looking for something a bit more exotic, here are some of the things you’ll find in our other tour offerings…

Bars, bars and more bars!

One of the first things you’ll notice about this city is just how full of incredible bars it is. Pretty much every street, every strip of shops and every corner has either one of two things. An amazing restaurant (I’ll list a few of my personal favourites to try out shortly) or bar. Some of these bars are awesome at that!

Just a couple of the places we visit on our Melbourne Hidden Bars tour:

  • Seamstress – located in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown district. What was once an old seamstress sweatshop has now been (thankfully) repurposed into a beautiful and extremely classy if I do say so myself, cocktail bar.
  • Beneath Driver Lane – Exactly as it sounds, this bluesy bar is quite literally beneath Driver Lane. An underground bar with a modern twist and one of my personal favourites.

For such a busy city, it’s more haunted that you’d think.

One of the things that first baffled me when I moved here was the idea that there was a haunted prison just smack bang in the middle of the city! While Melbourne has it’s beauty – it also has quite the gruesome past. It’s filled with creepy laneways and and true crime stories that would make anyone’s spine tingle.

If you like to live life on the edge, and you’re not afraid of ghosts, we’d highly recommend unlocking the secrets of Melbourne’s dark past with us.

We don’t give away all our secrets for free.

While the free Melbourne walking tour is the staple of both how and why we started, there are way too many secrets locked away in the city for just a free tour to cover. Don’t get me wrong, we cover ALOT in that tour, but to really get down to the nitty gritty, the true history behind the intricate architecture of this beautiful city – we save all of that stuff for our Secrets of Melbourne  tour.

We’ll even buy you a delicious Melbournian coffee, and in true Aussie style, we’ll finish up at the pub.

All of that said, our free tour of Melbourne is the best of it’s kind.

And I’m not just saying that either! Our guides are incredible and work to make you feel right at home the entire time. If you’re looking for a place to start, there’s no better way to see Melbourne than through the eyes of our free walking tour.

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