Along with the now-closed Technical Bookshop, McGills was a regular geek destination when I was growing up, somewhere I could browse and purchase material for the two geeky pursuits of mine: technology and transport.
I held onto my 8-bit BBC Micro for longer than most people, and it was never the most popular platform, so by the late-80s, few shops still stocked the magazines. But McGills kept stocking BBC Acorn User, and I kept buying it from them regularly. Even after the 8-bit computers faded away, I kept going back when passing to look through and occasionally buy Edge or some other geeky mag.
Less regularly I also looked at transport journals. At home I have an issue of Transit Australia, the journal of the Australian Electric Traction Association, highlighting the opening of the City Loop. I’m reasonably sure I bought that at McGills. And in the days before Amazon, McGills and Tech Books were the places to look for obscure titles.
Even these days, with competition in magazines from the excellent MagNation, McGills still has an almost unique collection of interstate and overseas newspapers (it’s where I went to get Virginia’s rant about me in print), and one can often find nicer greeting cards there than from the mainstream card shops and newsagents.
They have been at that spot in Elizabeth Street for many decades. There’s a shot in the original version of On The Beach where you can see them (sorry the grab I found is so fuzzy). But the business itself has apparently been running since 1860.
But McGills in Melbourne will close in July, due to rent issues.
And so another Melbourne icon disappears.
- 1958 picture: McGills at 406 Lonsdale St