The next day was bright and warm, so we headed out on the tram to explore.
Our first stop was Docklands, an area of the city that has been regenerated and is planned to be complete by 2020. Docklands will expand the CBD by 50%, and much of the social and leisure facilities are already complete – including the Etihad Stadium (which looks a lot like the Millenium stadium complete with a retractable roof!)
|No David - I said act like 'Gra Gra'!|
|Just pants btw!|
A number of Melbourne’s celebrities have been immortalised along the promenade, including Dame Edna and someone called Graham Kennedy, known as Gra Gra (pronounced gray gray), who we’re told was the Australian equivalent of Brucie. We were also curious as to what was cast ‘downstairs’ on Edna.
We left the semi completed but very deserted Docklands and headed into downtown Melbourne, along the south bank of the Yarra river to the tallest observation deck in the southern hemisphere. The Eureka Tower, named after the Eureka Stockade, a rebellion during the Victorian gold-rush, stands 297.3 meters tall.
The top of the tower is clad in pure gold with blue galzing, both of these a nod by the architects to the gold-rush as blue was the colour of the Victorian flag at the time. The observation deck sits on floor 88 (out of 90), and the views were awesome. 360 degree views of the financial district, Albert Park, the Botantic Garden, and the sports city including the home of Australian Cricket, the MCG.
|Albert Park and St Kilda|
In fact the views were so good we came back again after dark!
Every night, the Crown Entertain Complex, lights up the Southbank with seven huge gas torches every hour from 8pm.
|Flinders St. 100,000 commuters. A few train spotters.|
|The clocks - all wrong|
Continuing on our historical tour, we headed to the Victoria State Library.
Ned was a petty thief who, after defending his sister against a policeman’s unwanted advances ended up injuring the policeman and was forced to go on the run to escape arrest. He was captured and hanged in Melbourne gaol. He is loved and loathed in equal measure throughout Australia, as some see him as a hero whilst others see him purely as a crook.
|The tin man|
|Smug. But dead|
Leaving the culture behind for a while, we jumped on a tram and headed to St Kilda, home to a number of artists, musicians and more importantly for us, master bakers on Acland Street! The cake shops here were simply amazing!
|Nom nom nom|
St Kilda is also home to a great beach, Australia’s oldest wooden rollercoaster at Luna Park and our friends Adrian and Hannah!
|Piering over the sea|
We met up for a pizza and a glass of Savvy by the sea and sat and watched an amazing electrical storm whilst hanging in an egg! After dinner we headed to the local institution, Hotel Esplanade, for some live hard rock! I doubt we will ever see The Mercy Kills on MTV though!
|The Mercy Kills. Wishful thinking?|
Melbourne has lots of small arcades, built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and a series of laneways and alleys home to the café culture Melbourne is famous for. The best coffee we have had so far was from Degrave café, a small coffee shop that roasts its own beans on a daily basis, tucked down a small alley full of alfresco organic eateries and wine bars, and it is heaving every lunchtime in the summer.
These laneways also house some of Melbourne’s most recent works of art, including some by British ‘artist’ Banksy, although the Melbourne authorities scrubbed two away without knowing who he was! The graffiti in AC/DC Lane and Duckboard Place is fantastic, and a number of organised tours showing tourists around have emerged!
|All ready to go|