Saturday, 16 January 2016

Map of Tassie Tour - Day 8 - Melbourne

It was time to get on. We had licked our wounds and it was time to get back to having a holiday.

Committed to going forward, once the washing was done, we caught the bus to the city - it runs right past the entrance of the caravan park - determined to sort the issue of transport out and see a few things we missed on our last visit to Melbourne.

We left our bus at Queen Victoria Markets in order for Sue to browse. I hate markets and I was still proving to be difficult to get underway with our chance to discover more of Melbourne. I was left with coffee and a book while Sue wandered, in that thirty minutes I took a good hard look and decided it was time to build a bridge and get over myself.

That achieved and Sue's love of markets sated, we bought tickets for the Melbourne Visitors Shuttle - the red bus tour - and jumped aboard. The next twenty minutes gave us time to plan a little of the day ahead. We retraced our steps of yesterday, alighting on the southern side of the Yarra after crossing Queens Bridge and walked back over the Immigrants Bridge. It tells the story of how immigration has shaped Melbourne and joins the northern shore at The Signal Box; named exactly for its original function near Flinders Street Station. These days, it's a meeting place for youth and the venue for programs intended to engage them from street art to community projects.

The walk along the river seemed better today, the more notice I took of it.

At Federation Square, it was my turn to visit the Information Centre and get to the bottom of the transport system. A key Volunteer, Les, provided valuable information which coalesced what I had found out from the PT Victoria website and gave it some sense.

Armed with this, we crossed the road to eat lunch as we waited for the next leg, scoffing sandwiches outside St Pauls Cathedral, festooned as it is with its strong, confronting message of support for refugees. This corner of Melbourne gives one the full gambit of the transport options available in the city. Diagonally across the road from Flinders Street Station and its trains, the corner of Swanston and Flinders St was alive with pedestrians, push bikes, motor bikes, cars, buses, trams and even horse drawn carriages.

Once on the bus, we passed the MCG before turning up Exhibition St and climbing the hill to the magnificent Exhibition Building. We were only just in time for the guided tour of the building and our small group - four of us - had a false start as the screams of a child with his hand trapped in an elevator drew our guides away at pace. Only one returned.

Completed in 1880 for the first Melbourne International Exhibition, it was designed by Joseph Reed, the same architect who designed Melbourne Town Hall and the State Library of Victoria. It's large dome was modelled on the Florence Cathedral and the extragance of the design reflected the money which had flooded Victoria following the gold rush. It was used for several exhibitions, concerts and even the opening of the first Australian Federal Parliament. The builder, David Mitchell, provided more than his expertise in its construction. His daughter, Nellie Melba, sang concerts there, backed by seventy choir members and a huge pipe organ. She also sang at the opening of the eventual Parliament House in Canberra.

The tour was interesting for its history but also for the distraction of an auction that was taking place on the floor of the building. As we discussed the renovations up on the  mezzanine, seventy adults fought to purchase rare collections of Lego. One packet of unopened bricks drew more than $600 from one tragic's pocket. Waiting in one wing of the building, ready to open in the morning, was Brickworld, the annual Lego conference. Imagine, people think I'm strange because I like cricket!

We had intended visiting the Melbourne Museum next, but the afternoon was pressing on and the next stop was Lygon St and a revisit to Brunettis. Chocolates and coffee ensued.

We eventually found our way to a bus stop near where we started at the Queen Victoria Markets.

Back at our digs, I made a quick trip down the road to deliver my notebook to a computer guy. I didn't like the way he suspected the hard drive and shook his head slowly. I left him with it.

Everyday is a better day.

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