Queen Victoria Market

Trip Start Nov 20, 2013
Trip End Nov 24, 2014

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Flag of Australia  , Victoria,
Monday, January 20, 2014

Yesterday we had another full day in Clifton Hill, the suburb we are staying in, and in Melbourne as well. We started by walking through Clifton Hill to a nice big park area that had a large children's farm and a cafe. On another side of the park, there is an old European looking building that used to be a convent. They now use the space in the convent for markets and events. We lucked out by seeing the market, since it's only on every third Sunday of each month. We got a couple samples of yummy foods and saw some interesting local crafts.

After wandering around the park and the convent for a bit, we headed by train to Queen Victoria Market. This is a very large market that sells everything from meat, dairy, and produce to clothes, toys, and souvenirs. Again we took a couple of samples and wandered around the whole market. We bought some strawberries, which were delicious, and a well known Turkish food called a borek. It was a crispy dough wrapped around different fillings. We both got cheese and spinach ones and they were quite tasty! This market was much busier than Prahran Market and much louder with sellers trying to get customers. The amount of people calling out the low prices of their products over and over again was overwhelming. The deals were quite good and we found out that this is where many locals do their shopping because it's better prices than in grocery stores. It was a lot of fun to experience this busy, loud market with parts of it being very similar to St. Lawrence.

After the market we walked through the city to the Royal Botanic Gardens. These gardens are massive. There are so many different areas of these gardens that we spent a good couple hours walking around them. They have so many different sections within the garden. We were able to see plants native to southern China, California, and Australia. We also walked through an herb garden that smelled amazing. There are ponds and small lakes throughout the gardens and pavilions and gazebos. It was a really pretty area to walk through.

When we had seen everything we could in the gardens (some parts were closed before we got there), we headed back to the CBD to a pizza place we saw with great pricing. We each got 3 small slices for less than $5 and then headed to a suburb near Clifton Hill called Fitzroy. Fitzroy is known for it bars and restaurants that are busy and lively all day everyday. We wanted to watch a tennis match with a Canadian woman, Eugenie Bouchard, playing an Australian. We knew the area was known for its hipsters, but we thought we would be able to find at least one sports bar. We were wrong. Thankfully we did find one bar with one screen playing the match, but without commentary. It was a cider bar with only one beer on tap, but at least we could watch the game. I had some cider while Jason drank some beer as we watched the Canadian win the match to move on to the quarter finals!

Our last stop before heading back to the house was a gelato place. We had passed it on our first day in Melbourne and thought it was a club at first because of the crazy line up in front and out the door. But then we saw kids in line and realized other people nearby were eating gelato. We knew this would be our last chance to try it so we just had to stop! There was a large line, but we heard it moved quickly, and it did. It was definitely worth the short wait though and we both really loved it! When we got back to the house, Harley informed us that this gelato place, Messina, has a couple locations in Sydney, but had just opened up here in Melbourne two weeks ago and is already crazy popular. Maybe we'll taste it again in Sydney!

Today we decided to join a free walking tour around Melbourne. It may have been wiser to do at the beginning of our time here, but we were so busy with other activities! Jason and I were both very impressed by this tour. It's a completely free tour, not even a tip was asked for, and it lasted 3.5 hours. Our guide was very informative and knowledgable. He took us to places in the city we had not seen yet, as well as to places we have, but he explained more about them to us. We started in Federation Square, a big open public space that also houses museums and restaurants. We've already spent some time in this square watching tennis on the large screen they have set up for the Open. Today we learned that the square is only 100 years old and is made completely of Australian materials. We also learned that Australia was almost made a French colony, but the explorers overshot it and went to Papua New Guinea. By the time they came back, English explorers had already claimed the land.

Next, we went to St. Paul's Cathedral. It's a beautiful cathedral with many intricate details similar to ones we have seen in Europe. However, since Melbourne and Australia as a whole is young, this cathedral looks more modern than European cathedrals. From the cathedral we walked down Flinders Lane and were taken to see some of the graffiti and street art we had seen earlier this week on our own. We learned that recently the entire lane was painted black for new street art to be done, except for one beautiful piece of a Hindu god. This was painted in 2010 and restored by the same artist in 2013. It's also one of the only street art pieces that hasn't been covered by someone else's tag so it was nice to be able to see the entire piece.

Along Flinders Lane we learned about how many buildings in Melbourne are protected heritage buildings. Some of them had the entire building protected, others have some parts protected, and some just have protected facades. We saw one building that has been fully rebuilt in the last year and looks so modern from the back and the sides. When we walked around to the front of the same building later on, we saw the old European influence of the building. We were taken into a family run opal store where we were shown how opals are found, cut, and polished. We were able to see the process and learned about double and triplet opals as well as black opals, the rarest kind. Double and triplets are still opals, but more common and need a man made material backing to get the black opal look, as opposed to the natural black stones with natural black backings. The black opal is found in only one part of Australia, which is why it is so rare and therefor more expensive. The family that owns this store also started all the zoos in Melbourne, and in honour of that, the store houses some of the critters found in the areas where opal stones are found. It was interesting to see these too.

We went into some more beautiful buildings, including the Sofitel Hotel where rooms start at $300/night. We went up to floor 35, just below where the hotel actually starts, and got a great view of part of the city from here. The hotel is unique in that every room has a wall with windows facing outside or a wall with windows facing down into the hotel itself. From this view, we could see where the Australian Open is played, the first fire brigade of Melbourne, parliament buildings, and much more. We then headed across the street to a government bank which has a beautiful copper mural of the history of Melbourne. It shows the gold diggers in a battle with the police officers and tells the story of a leader of the gold mines who lost his arm due to an officer and later became a member of parliament. People have always had to pay the government to search for gold in Melbourne and the fee used to be monthly. Once a new government official came into power, he wanted more money and decided to ask for fees every two weeks. Gold miners weren't finding gold and therefore couldn't pay the fees to continue digging. This was when they decided to create an independence from Australia and start their own country to continue mining. This was the cause of the battle, but the battle was short lived. When the first large piece of gold was found, the finder yelled "Eureka!" and this is why there is a large building with a big gold panel and and red piece called Eureka. The gold represents the gold mine era and the red is in memory of the battle.

We took our walk through some of the arcades and lane ways that Jason and I have explored previously and were shown some interesting shops and restaurants we missed on our own. Our last stop on the tour was to an old hotel now called Young and Jackson's, but it used to have a different name. This hotel houses a very large painting of a naked woman from almost 100 years ago and used to cause a lot of uproar. This hotel is right across the street from St. Paul's cathedral and the men would always come across after services to see "Chloe" and the women didn't like this. Now "Chloe" is up one floor in the hotel but it still able to be seen by the public. The actual woman used as the model was the lover of the artist at one point. But when she turned 21, the artist decided she was too old to be his model and lover and she committed suicide shortly after. The frame of the painting alone is worth ton of money and if anyone wants to buy the painting, they would need to buy the entire business.

After our tour we bought some things we need before heading to Tasmania tomorrow and I finally tried some famous Melbourne coffee. Melbourne is a coffee city with tons of cafés. The coffee seems expensive here for its size compared to Toronto but we learned that they make fun of Canadian and American coffee drinkers. Here they are influenced by Italian coffee so it is bold and rich. They do not sell the large sizes we have at home, which they call "coffee milkshakes". In fact, Melbourne is the only city in the world that Starbucks tried to tap into and was not successful. Before Harley told us this, Jason and I had noticed that we had only seen a couple Starbucks here, which now makes sense. I have to admit, it was really good coffee!  

At night we hung out with Harley and Krystel one last time since our flight is early in the morning. They shared some travel tips and experiences since they are both well traveled and have spent a ton of time in Southeast Asia.  Overall, we had a fantastic time spending a week here in Melbourne!

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Uncle Dada (Neil) on

Just caught up on your blog. You guys should become professional travel writers. And the photos are great! Everyone here sends their love. Continue to enjoy.

jasonandgaryn on

Thank you so much Uncle Dada! I hope all is well with you guys. There are so many exciting things happening for your family. I can't keep up!

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