“Old landmarks fall in nearly every block … and the face of the city is changing so rapidly that the time is not too far distant when a search for a building 50 years old will be in vain.” —Herald, 1925.
The demolition firm of Whelan the Wrecker was a Melbourne institution for a hundred years (1892–1992). Its famous sign — ‘Whelan the Wrecker is Here’ on a pile of shifting rubble — was a laconic masterpiece and served as a vital sign of the city's progress. It's no stretch to say that over three generations, the Whelan family changed the face of Melbourne, demolishing hundreds of buildings in the central city alone.
In A City Lost and Found, Robyn Annear uses Whelan’s demolition sites as portals to explore layers of the city laid bare by their pick-axes and iron balls. Peering beneath the rubble, she brings to light fantastic stories about Melbourne's building sites and their many incarnations. This is a book about the making — and remaking — of a city.
Robyn Annear is an ex-typist who lives in country Victoria with somebody else's husband. She is the author of A City Lost and Found, Bearbrass, Nothing But Gold, The Man Who Lost Himself, and Fly a Rebel Flag. She has also written several pieces for the Monthly magazine.