About Swedish Church / Swedish Consulate in Melbourne
The Swedish Consulate in Melbourne forms part of the Swedish Church, inside Toorak House. Not the other way around as you may think.
You find them both on 21 St Georges Road in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak. Possibly the most exclusive street in possibly the most exclusive Melbourne suburb.
Last week I walked there from home and then back again as follows.
My rationale for walking to the Swedish Consulate in Canberra was to pick up my new Swedish passport.
And can you believe it, my old Swedish passport expired in January 2014. Why haven’t it renewed it earlier? Funny you ask…
Renewing a Swedish Passport in Australia…
…is nowhere as simple as renewing an Australian passport here. Some details:
- First of all, a Swedish passport is valid for 5 years, an Australian passport for 10 years. Twice the “fun”…
- You must apply for a new Swedish passport in person at the Swedish Embassy in Canberra.
- The application requires a form where you have to justify why you should get another passport. Never mind that you are born in Sweden and have had Swedish passports for many decades.
- If you are also an Australian citizen (like I am), you need to prove that you did not become an Aussie before 1 July 2001. If you did, you would have automatically lost your Swedish citizenship. So the dated Australian citizenship certificate is also required.
- You need a printout of your personal details from the Swedish Tax Office. Why I am not sure of, because there wasn’t much in there about me, but you do.
- A Swedish passport abroad does not come cheap either. $240 over the counter in Canberra.
- You can pick up the Swedish passport in any of the Swedish consulates in Australia. But that will set you back another $25. Free if you pick it up in Canberra.
OK, enough whinging about this. I did get my new Swedish passport in my hot little hands in the end.
Welcome to Toorak House
Here is the entrance to Toorak House and the Swedish Church / Swedish Consulate in Toorak. The sign says “Swedish Church abroad” in Swedish under the flags.
This was my 3rd visit to the Swedish Church / Swedish Consulate in Melbourne. As you could see from the flags on the sign above, the other Nordic countries are in for the ride. During my previous visits, the flags had also been prominent and visible on top of the brick wall.
Not today, the flags were tucked away behind the front gate.
Toorak House is the name of the Swedish Church / Swedish Consulate building in Melbourne. It is a mansion and may have inspired the name of the whole suburb Toorak. Yes, it is quite a remarkable big building surrounded by large grounds.
History of Toorak House
History says that it was built in 1849 and housed 5 Victorian Governors from 1854 to 1874. From 1876, Toorak House became a private home again. And then during World War II it became a hostel for women in the Australian Air Force.
The Church of Sweden purchased the building in 1956 and converted the property into a church and community centre. Given current day property values and location, location, location, I say that was an excellent decision.
Inside Toorak House
You walk in through the main door to Toorak House and you see this:
Immediately to the right from that hallway above is the church component. It looks like this:
And to the left of that hallway is an area for socialising and eating / drinking.
No other guests than me today. Even though I was there just before 1pm. The opening hours reflected this lack of visitors during winter, open 12pm-4pm. Tuesday to Sunday only.
Food and Drink
IKEA stopped selling branded Swedish goods and went solo with their own products a few years ago. Nowhere near as good and diverse but here you could stock up on classic Swedish goodies. With the right brand names.
I am still a sucker for Swedish crisp bread (called “knäckebröd” in Swedish). The Swedish Church offered several different types and I bought myself 3 different packets. Which was all I could fit into my backpack.
No lunch menu, but they sold coffee and cinnamon snails.
Taken! I just had to purchase something Swedish to consume there.
Coffee was quite ordinary, but the “kanelbulle”, Swedish for cinnamon roll, was excellent. Much much better than IKEA.
For potential visitors…
I would recommend a visit to Toorak House for non Swedish / non Nordic people as well. The mansion is impressive and so are the garden surroundings. It is open for anybody to visit so no requirement of nordic ancestry.
I know that leading up to Christmas in earlier years, there have been Christmas markets on its grounds. I was there one year and it was quite a family affairs, for Swedes and for others.
Why don’t you check it out?