Highlights of Melbourne

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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What I did
After two days of travel, we arrived on August 5

Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Before I start this blog, I want to mention that this will be the first time I'll be flying on the Airbus 380.  The 380 has 436 seats and 14 "suites" for first class.   As usual, I'll be in economy, but both flying to and returning from Australia will be in aisle seats (thankfully).   The flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne is almost 16 hours, and the flight from Sydney to Los Angeles is almost 14 hours.

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA

Australia is the sixth largest country, the smallest continent, and the largest island of the earth today.

The original inhabitants, the Australian Aboriginals, is believed to have arrived about 50,000 years ago during a period of ice age when oceans were more shallow.

Britain decided that Australia would make an ideal penal colony when then Lt James Cook's (known to most as Captain Cook) first voyage to the South Pacific included visits to the Tahitian Islands, New Zealand and Australia. It took him along the eastern coast of Australia where his ship, the Endeavor, ran into corals at what is now known as the Great Barrier Reef. *We stayed in Cape Tribulation for two nights at the Ferntree Rainforest Lodge during our tour.


The British invasion began in January 1788 when Arthur Phillip and the first fleet with 1,475 marines and convicts on 11 ships arrived at Botany Bay. Gaols (jails to us Americans) were overflowing in Britain even after sending 50,000 convicts to America, but that stopped when the US won the War of Independence.




A FEW FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIA TODAY

The population is 21,767,000 (most recent census) that includes peoples from many
cultures and countries with the greatest numbers from the following
countries (from Wiki).
 United
Kingdom
1,153,264
 New
Zealand
476,719
 Italy
220,469
 People's
Republic of China
(Excluding SARs
and Taiwan
Province) 203,143
 Vietnam
180,352
 India
153,579
 Philippines
135,619
 Greece
125,849.


Australia's unemployment rate is 4.3%, but our bus driver in Sydney and our Tour Director told us that is a “false” economy, because most of their economy is based on trade with China to meet their demands for raw materials that Australia has in abundance. Although it was the impression of most of us in our travel group that Australians were doing very well compared to the rest of the world's economies, they said many were struggling to live because of their high cost of living. To provide an experience we had in Sydney, we paid $50 for fish and chips and beer at Peter Doyles at The Rocks. I thought that was expensive until I found a restaurant in Sydney that charges $60 for hamburger.
 
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Now, back to the chronological order of our trip.


SUMMARY OF OUR TOUR

This was an Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) tour that included Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Port Douglas, Cape Tribulation, and Sydney. The trip took 17-days, but our flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne took 3-days, because we lost a day by
crossing the International Date Line (Departed on August 3 and arrived on August 5). On the return flight for home, we left Sydney on August 19, and arrived home on the same day. We had 16-people in our group, the maximum travelers with OAT tours.

Our flight from LAX (Los Angeles) to Melbourne (MEL) 7,918 miles took about 16 hours.
We had four internal flights in Australia with 3,520 miles that took about 8.5 hours, and our flight from SYD to LAX was 7,490 miles that took another 13 hours (we had the jet stream that reduced our flight by about one hour.) We flew 18,900 miles, and spent 38 hours and 20
minutes in airplanes, and I swore off long trips after I returned from South India last year.

I just couldn't pass up the last minute deal, and any savings was spent long before I returned home, but it was worth every dime.



Aussies and Brits call Melbourne "Melbin."     

City Map

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Melbourne was founded in 1835 and it is the second most populated city (after Sydney) in Australia with over 2-million. The city is located in the south-east of the country at a natural bay called Port Phillip in the state of Victoria with the Yarra River running south of city center

Australian currency (exchange rate varied with US$ during our 2-weeks)

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MELBOURNE: August 5 and 6.
We arrived in Melbourne at 8:20AM, and to our hotel by 10:30AM.

Melbourne is a major tourist destination. Their attractions include world class museums, sports venues, and the arts center building. During our orientation walking tour on the first day, we walked south towards Yarra River to view some amazing buildings built with money from the
gold rush. We walked through alleyways with a profusion of shops, many with outside seating, selling cultural foods.   We walked past the Finders Street Train Station, back to Swanston Street, across the Yarra River bridge to visit the Southbank Promenade. After crossing the pedestrian bridge across Yarra River back towards Swanston Street, we caught the free Circle City Tram that goes all around city center. We got off at La Trobe Street to walk a few blocks to the Queen Victoria Market where they have stalls selling produce, meats, candies, and other goods. The east side of the market is full of produce and meats (including kangaroo) while the west side shops sells local crafts, toys, clothes, luggage, cheap jewelry, t-shirts, hardware, and other goods. Our orientation walk ended at the Queen Victoria Market, so I walked back to our hotel to explore on my own. Some took the free tram for the other half ride back to the starting point.  I returned to the hotel at 5:30PM for our welcome dinner at the Limelight restaurant located in a narrow alleyway a few blocks from our hotel.  I had the lamb shank, and Terry who sat next to me had kangaroo. He said it was delicious, so I had kangaroo a couple of times during the tour. Kangaroo is not gamey as I thought it would be, and the flavor is very good.
Orientation walk

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Architecture; 19th c built with gold

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Shrine of Rememberance & MAJ cafe (beer)

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August 6: On the following morning, our group met at 8:20AM for our bus tour of the city to
visit the different districts and passing through the Sports Precinct, Docklands, Italian section with all their restaurants, and a visit to the Shrine of Rememberance with their displays of
Australia's armed services from the Great War (WWI) of 1914-1918, and the many conflicts since then. Most of the current displays were of their naval forces. We also spent about an hour visiting the Royal Botanic Garden across the street from the Shrine of Rememberance –
in the rain.
    
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    Our next visit was special, because we visited the Old Melbourne Gaol (jail) where they have displays of criminals, and those who were executed there. The most famous was Ned Kelly. The tour continued to a opal factory store, but I wasn't interested, so my new Italian friend, Pino, and I walked around to find a bar for a beer. We stopped at cafe MAJ for a Tasmanian beer; a thumbs up. 
Old Melbourne Jail

 
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From Wiki.Ned Kelly Edward "Ned" Kelly (June 1854/June 1855 – 11 November 1880)[1]
was an Irish Australian bushranger, considered by some merely a cold-blooded killer, while by others a folk hero and symbol of Irish Australian resistance against oppression by the British ruling class for his defiance of the colonial authorities.[2]Kelly was born in Victoria to an Irish convict father, and as a young man he clashed with the Victoria Police. Following an incident at his home in 1878, police parties searched for him in the bush. After he killed three policemen, the colony proclaimed Kelly and his gang wanted outlaws.A final violent confrontation with police took place at Glenrowan on 28 June 1880. Kelly, dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, was captured and sent to jail. He was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Gaol in November 1880. His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folklore, literature, art and film.


After our drive through the Sports Precinct to look at the different sports venues and the Rod Laver tennis pavilion, some of us got off the bus at Federation Square. A few purchased tickets for an optional tour, but I just wanted to walk this area to explore some more on my own.  I stopped at the National Gallery of Victoria, but they didn't have any Renoir or van Gogh paintings, so I just walked back towards Finders Street Train Station and the alley with the restaurants. I had a grilled calamari with salad lunch with chips on my own with a long black coffee.
 
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That evening, one lady, Mary Ann, in our group invited a few of us to her room for wine. Unfortunately, she likes her red wine chilled. Pino and I walked that evening to find a restaurant for dinner, and we walked to the Southbank Promenade to the Eureka Skydeck 88 to view the city from the highest point in Southern Australia, and the tallest residential building in Australia. 
 
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We then proceeded to an Italian restaurant on Flanders Street where the waiter was Italian, so Pino got us a special deal on the wine (got the higher priced wine for the one we ordered), but the total bill came to AUD$107. When I got home, the bank charged me $18 for the currency exchange. I'll never use that credit card again outside the US!

Walked 7.6 miles.




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