August 18, 2000

My trip to Melbourne, Australia

Here are some photos taken on my trip to Melbourne, Australia, in August of 2000.

I only had two days to play tourist, so I'm sure that Melbourne has a lot more to offer than I saw, however I was able to wander around the city some and see a few interesting site before all the hard work kicked in.

First, the obligatory photo of the view outside my hotel room:

As you can probably guess, that's really a composite of three photos. The rail yards to the left were always busy, and provided me something to watch while my interview candidates were attempting to write a program or two. The river running through the center is the Yarra, which Melbourne is built around. The rail tracks enter an underground station, and where they do so some kind of construction was going on (never did find out what). Across the bridge, the spire is actually a movie theatre. To the right of the bridge is a very nice river walk with lots of shops and restaurants, leading towards a big entertainment complex and casino in the tall building at the far left. True "downtown" Melbourne would be directly behind you in this view.

It took me less than 6 hours to stumble across this:

Yep, a doll shop. Very nice one, too. I impressed my traveling companions by being able to identify some of the dolls in the shop. Well, perhaps impress is the wrong word.

We ended up taking the only 1/2 day bus tour that was left available to us on Saturday, which was up to a hill outside of town with a view of the city. The bus driver was a real crack-up, and really typified a very dray Australian wit. He was very funny to listen to as he pointed out landmarks, interesting sites, and told us about his ex mother-in-law.

One stop on the tour was at a small park where there was a huge flock of birds, Crimson Rosellas, that would come sit on your hand (and head and whatever) if you'd hold out your hand with seeds:

As I said, a flock (of birds AND people):

While we were there, the bus driver made us tea, with scones, crackers and Vegemite. Yes Vegemite. Tried that last time, didn't need to try it again.

The road to the look out was long and curvy, and we were obviously entering a tourist area. More tea rooms than you could count, and lots of bed & breakfasts as well. Actually a nice, wooded area that reminded me in many ways of home.

So the view. Well, what can I say, it's winter "down under", and even though it was a nice day, it wasn't quite nice enough:

I think Melbourne is on the horizon somewhere, but it was definitely beyond the color resolution of my camera to find it. I'd say we were about 30 miles out of town, though.

The next day (Sunday) I set out on foot on my own. Not far from the hotel was a great fountain that had water kind of shimmering down it:

It just invited you to touch it, it was so smooth, both in appearance and in motion. Nearby was this fellow:

I have no idea who he is or what he represents...I just thought he was cool.

I walked on to Queen Victoria's Market, which I can only characterize as Seattle's Pike Place Market 4 times bigger and without the fish. Here's a view of one end:

Lots of street musicians, crafts, clothing and so forth.

On my way back to the hotel I paused in the downtown shopping core and snapped this shot of a local tram:

Melbourne has, as best I can fathom, the best public transportation system I've ever seen. Trams are everywhere, as are (electric) commuter trains. Within a few blocks of the downtown core on Saturday a "footy" game (Australian rules football...somewhat like Rugby) put something like 100,000 people in the stadium...and traffic was "normal". Something like that would bring downtown Seattle to near grid-lock. I was impressed.

By the way, if the color scheme looks familiar, I believe that Seattle's waterfront streetcar is, in fact, an older (much older) Tram from Melbourne.

After a bit of a rest at the hotel I wandered the other way...down the river walk:

Several ferries were taking passengers to and from the stadium for that day's events, and sightseeing. If you look closely here, you can see the owner's dog laying down on the job at his post:

At the far end of the walk is a casino and entertainment center. I was taken by a beautiful fountain that shoots coherent streams of water from one pool to another, or up various levels. It was kinda dark in there, but it was fairly stunning:

Like Seattle and Sydney, Melbourne has a tall building with an observation deck, so I had to look. Here's a view towards my hotel (the Hyatt, the smaller goldish one near the upper center) from about 750ft off the ground:

And a view of the river walk area I'd just been to:

And a view up the building for reference:

The two day's represented above were followed by 4 day's of very hard work, but all in all it was a very enjoyable trip. Once again, the Aussies are great and everyone was pleasant and helpfull. Except, perhaps, for that bus driver's ex-mother-in-law.

August 18, 2000