Melbourne transport

What can’t you buy in the city? Petrol.

The CBD (to be precise, the Hoddle Grid) has just about every business imagineable, except one.

Petrol stations.

At least, as far as I can tell from searches of Yellow Pages and Google Maps, though the latter incorrectly identified one at 114 Flinders Street.

To fill up a car, you have to go to Victoria Parade, just outside the Hoddle Grid, or to City Road or Kingsway. Everyone seems to manage — though a Herald Sun article last week noted that fuel prices are often now higher in Melbourne than in regional areas. (One lady quoted spends $150 a week on petrol. Jeez; I wonder if she has any choice but to drive everywhere.)

Gordon Price notes, when writing about petrol stations in Vancouver:

As oil companies have consolidated and gotten out of the retail end of the business, those prime sites with high values, offering a product with low mark-up, were worth way more as real estate. And so the number of stations in Canada has been dropping by about a thousand a year.

I wonder if the numbers of petrol stations are also dropping here — though I note I can’t remember a time when there was a petrol station within the Hoddle Grid. Has it been the case in recent times?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

8 replies on “What can’t you buy in the city? Petrol.”

The petrol stations in Sydney are being sold off at a high rate, mostly the smaller privately run ones are being redeveloped for the land value, the larger ones are consolidating under Coles (Shell) or Woolies (Caltex) and a local Mobil in my area has just been refurbished as a 7eleven.

There seem to be far fewer petrol stations around now than what there were when I was young, many have just disappeared.

I wonder is this is linked to the cessation of discounting a few years ago?

1,000 a year in Canada is quite significant! It is interesting to note that in Laos and Thailand they are being built at a huge rate. Some stretches of road that I drive on over there have new stations being built within just kilometres of each other.

I have a vague memory of a service station on the ground floor of the multi-story carpark on Little Collins opposite the back of the Melbourne Club. But that’s going back to the seventies. I would think it was quite probable that other multi-story car parks prior to the seventies had similar petrol stations.

Outside the Hoddle grid, but there was one in Swanston St opposite Lincoln Square into the eighties. Apartments now.

Petrol station numbers have been falling in Victoria for a long time – there are lots of ex petrol stations around. My old mechanic once had a petrol station and he said that selling petrol was too much work to make any money – it was far easier and more profitable to fix cars. Then they had a couple of armed robberies, and they packed it in.

I recall taking an old signs photo of petrol for sale in Nicholson Street, about 100 metres over Victoria Street, but alas, outside the grid. Andrew has rekindled a memory of city car parks having petrol browsers, but I can’t recall the specifics except it was very expensive petrol. I think I can say that every place I regularly bought petrol in the 70s, 80s and 90s have now gone.

There are 5 main roads leading away from my place. Since the nearest two or three petrol stations on each route has closed down, it is now more than 6 km to the nearest petrol station in any of those directions.

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