Melbourne: Gangsters, Brothels and Lolly Shops Tour

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Explore Melbourne’s former red-light and slum district known as 'Little Lon'. Learn of the women who ran the area and their battles against gangsters & police. C.1850s-1940s.


  • Explore the streets and alleys of Melbourne's former slum & brothel district
  • Stop outside the former home of Australia's most famous gangster Squizzy Taylor
  • Discover buildings which were 'houses of ill-fame' 100 years ago
  • See former opium dens and cocaine cafes and learn about the people who frequented these premises
  • Visit the last remaining single storey cottage in Melbourne's back lanes


Take a walk through downtown Melbourne and learn of an era in which there was much more on offer at the local confectionery store than just lollies and soft drinks. Explore Melbourne’s underworld circa 1850s-1940s, an era in which Melbourne’s downtown slum district, ‘Little Lon’, was mostly run by women. Learn about the battle for supremacy, madams who stood their ground against well-known gangsters such as Squizzy Taylor, and an all-female crime syndicate known as ‘The Combine’. Stop outside buildings which were once brothels and sly grog shops (speakeasies), and hear the stories of what occurred within their walls and on the streets and laneways around them. You can also see examples of former opium dens and all night cocaine cafes, and learn of the characters who frequented these establishments. You will hear of shootings, bombings, bashings, brothels, robberies, opium, cocaine and sly grog (speakeasies), on a tour designed and delivered by writer and historian, Michael Shelford.


Free tour booklet containing photos of the characters featured on the tour

Important Information

  • Wear comfortable shoes for walking suggested
  • Sunscreen and weather protection are recommended according to conditions

Easy cancellation

Cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund


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