When we arrived in Melbourne at 8:30 on Tuesday morning, we were met with permanent air conditioning at about 12 degrees Celsius. It was a
Cuddled up against the cold!
welcome change and we stuck on our jackets and scarves and enjoyed not sweating for a change! Were picked up at the airport by my aunt Lee and cousin Glen, and made the 85km drive back to their house in Cranbourne East. The funny thing is that they live on the city limits, which means that the city is about 90km in diameter! Crazy, considering that the whole of the city of Cape Town is just 60km in diameter.
As soon as we arrived at my family’s house in Cranbourne, we felt at home. It has been great to have a bit of space to unpack our backpacks and have a kitchen to make some food if we feel like it. We spent the rest of the day on Tuesday relaxing on the couch, cuddled up in a blanket, watching movies…divine! It is certainly different to have a hot home-cooked meal ready for you every night.
On Wednesday we thought we would take a walk to the local shopping centre and orientate ourselves with the area. We didn’t have a map, so we check out the directions on Google Maps. Unfortunately, we didn’t pay enough attention to those, and ended up walking in the wrong direction. The problem was, once we got onto the main road, we turned left (the correct way) but then doubted ourselves and turned around and walked the other way. We walked for ages and ages and eventually decided we must have gone the wrong way and had to make our way back to where we had started. After about 2 hours and much giggling, we eventually found the right road, just a little further from where we had turned back in the first place. Ridiculous! Anyway, it was a good walk, and we had definitely orientated ourselves by this stage. I was exhausted by the time we eventually got to the shopping centre. We spent maybe half an hour wandering around the centre, just looking at all of the different shops and prices, and then we made the trek back home. Once we had found our way, the walk back was quick, figures!
On Thursday we decided it was time to go into the city. We bought a daily card for A$11 each and took the bus and then the train into the city. We got off at Parliament and took a slow walk past the gardens, St Patricks cathedral and the National Treasury building. The feeling I got from the city is a mix between Washington DC, probably because of the cold weather, and a European city like Paris.
The Old and the New of Melbourne
There are lots of old buildings mixed in with the new ones, and the old trams run around the city on the same tracks as the new trams. Our first stop was to Flinder’s Street to the tourist centre where we collected all of the pamphlets we needed to read up on Melbourne. Armed with a map and a better sense of direction, we made our way over the Yarra River to the South Bank to walk around the gardens. By this time it was time to stop for lunch so we settled down on the grass next to the river and watched the kids learning to row while we ate our packed sandwiches
It was a slow day, we were not in any hurry to get anywhere in particular, so we ambled along in the direction of the Shrine of Remembrance, which looked like a good place to visit. We passed the Sidney Myers Music Bowl, where they have regular concerts apparently, and a few monuments to this person and that. The gardens themselves are beautifully tended and the flowers make this city garden feel more like a botanical garden like Kirstenbosch in Cape Town. We made it to the Shrine of Remembrance just in time for the daily ceremony. We crowded around the Shrine, and took a moment of silence for the soldiers of war as a ray of light moved across the plaque in the centre of the room, which states: ‘Greater Love Hath No Man.’ It was a moving ceremony, although lasting just a few minutes. It really shows you how much the Australians care about their soldiers and all of the soldiers of war in general.
The Plaque in the Shrine of Remembrance
We took the tram back up to Flinders Street from the Shrine, and took a wander around the laneways. They are so quaint and pretty, I enjoyed looking at all of the boutique shops and cafes. Unfortunately, it was all window shopping and no buying. We decided to go for a drink before heading back to Cranbourne but no where grabbed us. As we were heading back to the station however, we were approached by a local guy who had obviously seen us fumbling along and told us that if we wanted to see a real Melbourne landmark, we should go to Young and Jacksons bar and head upstairs for a drink and to see Chloe, an elegant nude painting dating back hundreds of years. So we did, and it was great. Chloe did not disappoint, and neither did the beer and cider after a long day of walking
Our view from the upstairs room of Young and Jackson's
The weekend was spent with the family, Claire came home from her placement in Bairnsdale for the weekend where she is practicing physio and we caught up until all hours of the morning. We made another trip into the city to see Luke and Lucy in St Kilda before they headed on their ultimate road trip around Australia (so epic guys!!). We had A$5.50 pizza’s at Baanff on Fitzroy Road (well done Lucy for that find!) and then walked for a bit around St Kilda. Its a lovely area, and I’m keen to go back there, but maybe when its a bit warmer, and not raining!
Lunch with Lucy and Luke in St Kilda
Saturday we watched Kyle play rugby at his club and then spent the afternoon watching the Tri-Nations, so all round a rugby day – and even watched a little bit of Aussie rules footie too. Thats an interesting game if ever there was one! In the evening Claire had a friend’s 21st so I went along and crashed the party! So much fun we had, dancing all night and even learnt the Nutbush-a very interesting Aussie dance which brings everyone into a flashmob on the dancefloor and jumping around like a couple of crazies. Fun!
Sunday evening we all piled into (two) cars and headed to the Lysterfield Lake Park to see if we could spot some Kangaroos and Wallabies out in the park. It was a lovely walk around the park and we saw loads of roos and wallabies hopping about in their natural habitats. It was fantastic!
A roo watching us having a walk in the park
Our adopted family for a while
All in all, its been a great week with a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing! Just how I like it