Melbourne musings

Sunday 19th October 2014.   Day 41

As we had collected the car at 10.30am we had to return it, in the centre of Melbourne, by the same time today. We had enjoyed the well appointed room with its comfortable bed complete with crisp white sheets and it took a little longer than we had planned to tear ourselves away from its luxurious embrace. Eric had underestimated the time need to reach our next home from home, assuming that on a Sunday traffic would be light, as we had experienced in Adelaide. Unfortunately Melbourne is a very different city, much more urban and edgy, with lots going on, especially today with a cycle event using the city roads. Despite this our trusty gps and with the assistance of Joyce’s quick witted map reading, guided us to Bank Place, which is a pedestrian street, forcing us to park on a nearby road to unload our bags.

Eric then left Joyce to arrange putting the luggage into temporary storage, as check in time was 2.00pm, in order to return the car to the rental company again the gps proved its worth and the car was returned with minutes to spare. Eric then walked back to the hotel, past a number of fine buildings including St Patrick’s church, to find Joyce in the foyer surrounded by maps and pamphlets, planning the next few hours and days. Very kindly the receptionist gave us access to our room then and there, which allowed us to grab a coffee and to head out for the Hillsong church, close by in the Athenaeum Theatre.

We arrived just as the worship was shifting up a gear, led by a very talented and musical worship band. The Word was delivered by a very impassioned lady fully in control of her material, based firmly on biblical truth, emphasising how we all can go from ruined parts of our live to flourishing through the love of God by actively becoming part of the solution to problems, overcoming our fears and fighting for our beliefs, with the help of a supportive church community. This is again a growing church of predominantly younger people, with 4 Sunday services in the theatre.

Very much buoyed up by the power and passion of the service we came back to earth as we went shopping in the nearby Coles supermarket for sustenance for the next few days. From here we returned to our room for lunch and a rest.

In the early afternoon we headed for the circle tram, the free service running around the outside of the historical centre of Melbourne. Unfortunately it was not running along Flinders street due to road works, so we walked, passing the impressive station, to the modern buildings of Federation Square. Heading further east we reached the Fitzroy gardens and visited Cook’s cottage, the 18th century home of James Cook, moved from Yorkshire and rebuilt here in 1934. The gardens also contained Sinclair’s cottage, built in 1834 and home of the horticulturalist responsible for the development of this park. The brick built conservatory was also of interest with is colourful display of English flowers, beautiful delphiniums, geraniums and verbenas.

We returned to the hotel through Treasury gardens, past the government buildings and back along Collins Street. Joyce prepared a spaghetti bolognese, under difficult cooking conditions, and we enjoyed a quiet evening. We even managed to catch an episode of the current Dr Who.


Monday 20th October 2014 Day 42     An arcade arcadia

When touring an unfamiliar city for the day it is important to have a plan, we both agreed. Eric thought the plan was starting at 9.30 am, visiting the cathedral and the National Gallery in the morning with a river trip to Wiliamstown in the afternoon. In the meantime Joyce had done some more research and found more places worth a visit, so this is how the day panned out.

9.00 am Joyce asks if we are ready to go, so we leave at 9.15 am. Our first stop is Royal Arcade, with echoes of Leeds, and then Block arcade, both of which highlight the metropolitan character of Melbourne and its café culture, wonderful cakes and chocolatiers. Rejoining Collins Street we found ourselves at the National Opal Centre where we received a free gift (which had enticed us there in the first place). Leaving the luminous delights of opal jewellery (Joyce was tempted) we headed for the National Library, another small addition to the programme. Spotting a sign to the old Melbourne Gaol, where Ned Kelly was executed, we investigated further, admiring the exterior of the Romanesque City Courts on the way but we resisted the chance to go inside or to partake in the experience of being banged up. Back on track we popped in to the Library, two hours later we popped out again having enjoyed the view of the dome, two special exhibitions, one about the early settlers and one with Ned Kelly’s armour, an art gallery and a free ticket to the $15 exhibition of Les Miserables from page to stage. The latter was a definite gem and brought back fond memories. Clare will be envious.

Feeling a trifle tired we caught the city circle tram to the cathedral and went inside. St Pauls is an impressive Victorian Gothic, polychrome, building and well worth a visit. As the time was now near 1.15pm the planned trip to Williamstown was clearly impossible but we went to the riverside and just caught a two hour river Yarra cruise which took us downstream to the sea port of Melbourne and upstream to Herring Island, avoiding the many rowers practising on the river.

Returning to the jetty we strolled across Prince’s bridge to the gallery and enjoyed a full, if somewhat very rushed tour, of the art works. They were very well presented and the mixing of paintings, furniture, porcelain and sculpture made for a very effective display.

Ejected from the gallery at 5 pm we made our way via the Ganache chocolate shop to the apartment for dinner, another of Joyce’s adaptions of shepherd’s pie with pasta.

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