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A brief history of The Melbourne Map

Some of you may remember an iconic hand drawn map of Melbourne produced back in the 90’s.  With the enormous changes to Melbourne’s skyline over the past 30 years, the original makers joined forces with some new team members and spent four years researching and hand illustrating this new Melbourne Map.

The illustration will take you on a journey of familiarity and discovery, capturing the iconic architecture, spectacular gardens, sports precincts, suburbs and of course, beautiful Melbournians! 

If you live in Melbourne, visit often (or just once) or you’re an expat Melbournian then you’ll love having this artwork on your wall.  Chances are your house, business, work or favourite place is on the map. The artwork is available as a full colour art print, jigsaw and a calendar.


In 1985 Melinda returned from backpacking around Europe, full of enthusiasm and bright ideas about the world.

On her travels she'd collected a few maps and admired the ones that were adorned with illustrations of buildings – these made it easier as a tourist to navigate around a city.

She searched for an illustrated map of Melbourne only to find the most recent edition was a magnificent etching of the city by AC Cooke and Samuel Calvert. Published in 1880, but not too helpful for visitors in the 1980's.

In a quest to learn more about business, she enrolled in a business course at Monash University and then applied the "idea" of producing an illustrated map of Melbourne to the principles of building a business plan. Becoming obsessed with the Melbourne Map concept the search for an artist began, and as luck would have it a chance meeting with Deborah Young.

Melinda Clarke 1990   Deborah Young 1990

Deborah was equally enthusiastic about Melbourne, so they teamed up, and over the next two years worked at nights and on weekends in a converted garage.


The map project began in earnest in 1987. Research photos were taken on an SLR camera (the old 35mm kind), then film developed at considerable expense. Deborah would use these as reference for the illustration. Over 7,500 photos were taken for the project, with around 2,000 from many hot air balloon flights over the city – courtesy of Chris Dewhirst from Balloon Sunrise who was the only pilot flying over Melbourne’s CBD at the time.

After two years we realised the project was going to take forever to finish so a $50,000 overdraft was secured with the ANZ bank (at 22.5% interest!). This enabled Deborah to leave her employment and work full time on the map, completing the original line drawing in late 1990.

By then, over $80,000 had been spent. Looking back it was blind faith and a whole lot of encouragement from friends and family that kept us going as we took the map to market.

A Black & White limited edition was printed on beautiful rag paper and we began the challenging task of letting the world know the map was available for sale.  After an interview on radio 3AW and 3LO we soon learned the power of media.


Enough sales were made to meet the overdraft interest payments, however it became obvious that people really wanted a colour version.

New illustrators, Heather Potter and Mark Jackson came on board and updated the line drawing – removing the bi-plane and banner and making a few building changes. The line drawing was then screen-printed same size as the original (an edition of 25 were printed by Larry Rawlings) and then over a period of 6 months Heather and Mark hand-coloured one of these prints.

On Friday 7 February 1992 The Age newspaper ran a story on our map and printed a greyscale copy on the inside of the front cover of The Age newspaper.   Suddenly, the cloud of the overdraft lifted as Melburnians mailed us cheques and we filled those orders with glee.  After seven years of planning and execution there was validation that Melburnians loved this drawing as much as we did.

Below is a story that the television program Healthy, Wealthy & Wise produced on the Melbourne Map project back in 1992.  Click on the image for the You Tube video

Melinda Clarke The Melbourne Map on Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

A jigsaw was produced in 1993 and was equally as popular – self-published and printed in Melbourne.  10,000 families experienced the joy of putting the 1,000 pieces together.

The Melbourne Map was produced in different forms until about 1997 when Melinda moved on to other life adventures and stored all the map memorabilia and remaining stock into a storage shed.

In early 2015 a chain of events led to the re-invigoration of the project and here we are again, creating an even more detailed illustration of the world’s most liveable city.  Thanks to the joy of technology and social media, we are glad to have you on board…

In 2018 we published the new edition of The Melbourne Map in Black & White, followed in 2019 with the colour version.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email