Australia - Melbourne

Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Day 1

Up and out of Geelong by 10am we completed the drive to Melbourne (another couple of hours).

Our first port of call was to find some accomodation so we located the nearest Big4 to the city (co-incidentally not that near!) and checked into a 'campers cabin'. This was essentially a basic cabin with a fridge, TV, sofa, wardrobe and bed. The toilet/shower and kitchen were in the main block and shared with other campers. The cabin only cost $50 (20 GBP) a night so we were happy to stay in the warmth rather than save a few dollars and freeze in Gizmo.

Trawling through a load of brochures we picked up from reception, we shortlisted a number of attractions that we wanted to see whilst in the city and then caught the local bus into the centre to get a feel for the place and take in some of the fantastic architecture (PIC).

Our first stop was Federation Square (PICS), which is designed to be the main communal / meeting place in the city.

It is a wide open area with a visitors centre, cafes, restaurants and various events going on most days. We had arrived on the day of the Australian football team (Socceroos) World Cup friendly against Greece and as part of the build-up to the game, which would be shown on a huge outdoor screen in the square, Nike had installed a free-kick game to win prizes. Andrew decided that it wasn't fair on other participants if he displayed his silky skills so he resisted having a go. We just watched the others for a while and then called into the visitors centre for some more local info. We stopped to get a good view of the spire which dominates the skyline from federation square (PIC) before heading back out into the city.

We caught a free loop tram around the main city centre and watched the hustle and bustle from the old-fashioned cart, hundreds of Socceroos supporters began to descend towards the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) for the evenings match. We had fancied getting a ticket but the sudden national interest in soccer, spurred on by Australias unexpected qualification for the World Cup, meant that the game was a sell-out. We would have to watch it on TV.

Having gained an idea of the layout of the city, and fed our faces, we endured the 30 minute bus ride back to the campsite before watching the Socceroos scrape past Greece 1-0. Bed followed shortly after.

Day 2

Getting up late and finally emerging from the cabin after breakfast we headed back into the city centre. We spent the entire afternoon and evening updating the website (perhaps not the most thrilling way to spend our first full day in Melbourne but our packed camera memory sticks (thanks to the Geelong bollards!) meant that until we saved the photos somewhere else we couldn't take any pictures of anything we saw in Melbourne).

A necessary chore completed we returned to our cabin and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Day 3

In a replay of the previous day we again got up late and made it into town by about 2pm.

We were intrigued to find out what the Australian Centre of Moving Image (ACMI) had to offer and figured that we had time to see it before it closed at 5pm. Some areas were closed for new installation but there were still a few areas of interest; namely an indy film section; with booths showing various shorts and animations from Australian and international filmakers, and a computer games area featuring the future of computer gaming. The film shorts were a bit hit and miss, some holding our attention for the full 5-10 minutes and some being switched off within 30 seconds!

The computer game area was quite entertaining, with the highlight being a kind of photo-fit face creator. This started off sensibly with the two of us trying to re-create our own faces - but soon developed into trying to produce the most hideous head. Needless to say the latter part was far more enjoyable!

Having exhausted the fun parts of the ACMI we made our way to the Rialto Tower; the tallest building in Melbourne which doubles as a lookout over the entire city. Reaching the observation deck, some 55 floors above the ground, we took a look around and waited for the sun to set so that we could appreciate the Melbourne skyline when in its flourescent glory as well as in the daylight (PICS).

The nightime views were really stunning but the icy breeze which penetrates the outside balconys of the observation deck quickly drove us back into the Tower. After watching a short film about Melbourne (basically a tourist promotional gimmik, but nevertheless with some great views), we left the tower and found the nearest internet cafe to continue our blog updates.

All typed out we jumped on the bus back to the campsite and watched tv into the early hours.

Day 4

Waiting at the bus stop outside the campsite we discovered that on a Sunday you can get a cheap day pass, about a third of the price of a normal day pass. With this knowledge in hand a sprint ensued for Andrew to try and get two Sunday passes from the nearby newsagent before the bus arrived. Speeding off into the distance Andrew raced to the shop and got back with less than a minute to spare - Linford Christie eat your heart out!

We jumped off the bus earlier than normal and called into the Queen Victoria Market; a huge 120 year old market that is actually built on the original site of the Melbourne cemetery. We were after some works clothes and some items to keep us warm in the progressively colder months that lay ahead....what we actually ended up buying was a digeridoo for Andrew. It was a stroke of luck as Andrew had all but given up getting one; we couldn't find one that we liked and at the right price. Most we had seen around Australia were either gaudy designs, unauthentic (i.e. not termite eaten) or well over $500. The one we bought was perfect in both size, style and authenticity, and after some bartering only cost $200 - PERFECT!

Chuffed with his purchase Andrew now had to carry the hefty didge around for the rest of the day. We continued into the city centre and back to Federation Square where the place was packed with Italians celebrating 'Italian Day' - makes sense really! We didn't stay long as none of the activities made much sense to us so we wandered along the river bank and then headed across town.

The rain began to descend and the didge was starting to get heavier so we made our way back to our cabin. It hadn't been the most productive day but Andrew thought the didge purchase made it all seem worth it - Verdi reserved judgement until Andrew's didge playing became unbearable. The phrase 'put a sock in it' could really be put into practice this time!

We planned to leave Melbourne the following day and although we still had a list of things we wanted to do in the city we weren't too worried. We knew we would be returning to Melbourne before leaving Australia, either to work or at the very least to get across to Tasmania - we would do the remaining things then.
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