Phryne Fisher Is My Neighbor

If you’re reading this post, presumably it’s because you’re familiar with the TV series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The heroine, Phryne Fisher, is a free-spirited — and incalculably elegant — detective who lives in Australia during the roaring 1920s. (If you haven’t seen the show, go watch it immediately, if for no other reason than to sigh longingly over the clothes. In regards to fashion, it’s like the flapper version of Sex and the City.)

Kerry Greenwood, the novelist who first created the character, lives in Melbourne, and references many of the city’s most historic buildings in her books. When those books were then optioned into a TV series, they chose to film it on location, using those same buildings as features in the show (and digitally erasing anachronisms such as power lines, skyscrapers, modern street signs, etc.). Since I’m a fan of the series — and have the fortune of currently living in Melbourne — I’ve visited several of those locations.

When (the fictional) Phryne Fisher first arrives in Melbourne, she temporarily moves into the (very real) Windsor Hotel. Built in 1884, it is the oldest standing hotel in all of Australia.

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the windsor hotel. melbourne, australia.

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stanford fountain and the windsor hotel.

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dining room at the windsor hotel.

Once a year, the city of Melbourne holds an “Open House” where many of the historical buildings invite people inside for free, informal tours. When I first moved to Melbourne, I went to several notable buildings during the Open House, including the Windsor Hotel, where I snapped this photo of its elegant dining room. Look at the stained glass sky dome!

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royal arcade. melbourne, australia.

The Royal Arcade (above), built in 1869, is mentioned in the Kerry Greenwood novels. I’m not sure whether it’s also been used as a location shoot for the TV series, but it should be. I have a secret crush on the two clock guardians, Gog and Magog. (Stern looking fellows, aren’t they?)

More famous is the Block Arcade (below), which is the place where Miss Fisher first meets Dot in the TV series. (The book differs in how they meet.) With gorgeous architecture and many lovely Victorian details, it’s been used as the backdrop for several scenes in the TV series.

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entrance to the block arcade.

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the block arcade has fantastically tiled floors.

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sweet baby says: i do believe we’ve sufficiently admired the tile work now. let us carry on with our day.

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an oversized australian flag in the block arcade’s rotunda to celebrate australia day.

And finally, we come to the most recognisable piece of scenery from the TV series, the opulent house in which Miss Fisher lives. It’s called Wardlow House, and though the fictional location is set in St. Kilda, the actual house used for filming is in Parkville.

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antique arm candy

And here’s a vanity photo showing off my antique jewelry. The engraved gold bangle is from 1890-1910, while the seed pearl and garnet slide bracelet — which I’m so fond of I wore for my wedding — is dated 1873. A bit older than Miss Fisher’s era, but still reminiscent of something she might wear.

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“Her heart was beating appreciably faster, and she took more rapid breaths, but she was enjoying herself. Adventuresses are born, not made.”
— Kerry Greenwood, Cocaine Blues (the first Miss Fisher novel)

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