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Ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?

Ever have that sense you’re toiling just to hold everything up? The work project, the mortgage, the bills, the commute, the boss, the kids, the in-laws … no doubt about it, there are enough responsibilities to go around and they sure can pile up. Even the most upbeat of us feel the weight when we’re tired.

But have you ever looked around and noticed what others are carrying? They’re certainly out there, no doubt about it. No matter how easy they make it look, others carry great weight too.  

I’ve been looking at the richness of Melbourne’s city environment and I’ve seen a few figures that are carrying heavy loads.  Some of them might be well known, but others are true unsung heroes and heroines. They’re putting in some real shifts and holding up more than their share. Like true battlers, you won’t hear from them, they won’t make a fuss. That’s why they deserve a shout-out, for sheer effort, for inspiration and for what they give to this great city.

A Titan of the CBD, Collins St

The Mighty Collins Street Atlas, holding the World on his back.
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Halfway down grand Collins Street, a Titan (literally) of the CBD can be seen carrying the weight of the world on his broad shoulders. It’s not a CEO of industry, but mighty Atlas the legendary Titan. A bronze statue residing at 406 Collins Street, Atlas bears the world on his mighty back. Once, sat atop the old Atlas Assurance Building – back in the day – this proud giant of the ancient world, holds up the globe without ever a complaint. In our times, Atlas has been retained as a feature above the door of a modern office block.

He’s a sobering symbol of toil and commitment. What figure can better symbolise, fortitude, strength and solidity?  As well as holding the world steady, Atlas is a reminder to any stressed executive, that they might not actually have the toughest job in the world.

In Greek classical mythology, Atlas was condemned by mighty Zeus, after the great battle of Olympians and Titans, to perpetually support the celestial heavens on his back. In later interpretations, Atlas came to be depicted as supporting the world, rather than the entire celestial sphere on his mighty shoulders. But let’s not split hairs, that’s still some weight! 


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The Power Women of Old Melbourne, The Block Arcade, Elizabeth St

It’s not just muscle men that are taking the weight. Sisters are doing it for themselves.

Not far away on Elizabeth Street, we can see another impressive building where two powerful women hold up their share of responsibility, supporting the grand arch to the main Elizabeth Street façade. Above the Block Arcade, is a beautiful Victorian façade that is just one of the many impressive heritage buildings that adorn Melbourne. With Victorian modesty, elegance and real strength, you can see the two figures holding up the central arch of the grand building façade.  Overlooking tram stop 2 on Elizabeth Street, these two power-women keep a clam watch over busy commuters.

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Holding on by their Teeth, Flinders St

Down to Flinders Street next and another pair of heroes, perhaps brothers, are also doing their bit, supporting the grand canopy to the Rendezvous Hotel. With the bit well and truly between their teeth, these guys pull a shift every day.

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Day in, and day out, these under-appreciated strongmen, do their duty and accept the job fate has given them. Often overlooked, but never complaining, they won’t say a word. These fellas take the strain with stoic fortitude.


The Strong Man of Fitzroy Gardens

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The final figure of strength can be found just outside the CBD in the lovely Fitzroy Gardens. The River God is an ancient resident of Melbourne, who also has a heavy load to carry. He’s moved around a bit over the years and he wasn’t always in the gardens, but it’s a good place to go when you want to slow things down a bit … and who doesn’t want that when they get that wee bit older.

Sat aloft an outcrop of rock the muscled figure of the River God strikes a strong silhouette and provides an elegant fountain for the gardens. Dating from 1862 his original siting was on Clarendon Street and Gipps Street, before moving to the park in 1995. Bearing the weight of a massive conch shell on his powerful back, age has not diminished his physique. The River God is another figure of strength and endurance; holding up his part of civic Melbourne and providing beauty and inspiration to all that pass.

So, there it is. It’s more than just you or I that’s carrying a load. When I’m feeling tired and worn – and when I take the time to notice – some of these figures give me real inspiration. I mean, at least I don’t have to carry the actual world, or hold up a building! 

I’m certain, there’s bound to be plenty of other heroes and heroines out there. Do you know any others? Do you have a favourite figure who inspires and lends you their strength? Keep looking as I think they are all around us.

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