This photo was actually taken last night as Carey and I wandered through Fawkner Park en route to the Beer garden for dinner. Some of the trees here are ginormous - massive, even if not as lofty as some of the mega-trees in the American west. Victoria is known as The Garden State, but it in no way resembles New Jersey. Melbourne has a huge number of parks and gardens, and many are connected such that if one knows one’s way, it is possible to go great distances without leaving greenery,
I don’t exactly know my way, but after a power walk/jog around Albert Park Lake earlier in the morning, I attempted to walk to Federation Square for my rendezvous with Veronica (my buddy from the Becheno Backpacker hotel) via parks and gardens. I took one twisty path too many and ended up on a major roadway for about a kilometer more than was absolutely necessary. Before that misstep, however, I walked for some way through the botanical gardens. I’m sure you will all be shocked to know that I loved every meter of it, and plan to try a more directed route tomorrow when I head back into the CBD to have lunch with Mike Vitale and one of the seeing-eye trainee puppies.
Below: “The smallest one was Madeline.” Kids in state (public) schools wear uniforms. Some are polo shirts and slacks, some dresses, some skirts and blouses. These were the cutest I’ve seen thus far. And as at home, the older kids manage to sex up even the most modest of outfits once school is out for the day.
Another view walking into the CBD over the Prince’s Bridge. The funky architecture in the middle ground is Federation Square. The towers are predominantly part of the 90’s development boom.
I met Veronica, and began our afternoon with a Shu-Yee-required stop at the food court at David Jones Department store on Collins Street. (It’s downstairs in the building that houses the men’s department, and not in the building across the street where the entire first floor is the cosmetics department.) I found the lemon coconut slices, the Lemingtons with jam, and little cheescakes with berry sauce on top. Neither Veronica nor I were hungry yet, so we caught a tram to the Melbourne Museum with a plan to enjoy the pastries for tea later in the day.
The enormous and spacious museum (apparently the largest in the Southern Hemisphere) was built in the 1990’s across a plaza from its Victorian forebearer that is now an exhibition hall where, among other things, the annual flower show is held.
I used my student ID to gain free admission again, and was drawn into the rocks and minerals exhibits first. Iwas impressed with the label copy and optional video stories and interviews. There was a great meteorite exhibit, but no copy… yet… about the Siberian meteorite from a few days ago. From there we looked at dinosaurs, evolution, animals of Victoria, animals of the World, human mind and body, wind power, water conservation, Celebration of Federation tapestires (20,000 person-hours invested) and Melbourne history. The human body exhibit included some quite explicit panels about the development of the human body, sex, fertilization, and birth. There was a panel at the entrance to the exhibit stating the explicit nature of the contents, but it was not framed as a warning, but rather as information. I wonder if we could get away with something similar at the Museum of Science, for example. They did a fantastic job with all aspects of the exhibit.
We got a glimpse of one of the Aboriginal art exhibits, and the small rain forest in one of the court yards before we needed a lunch break. I think we got through about 1/3 of what there was to see. I should have headed directly for the Aboriginal art, since we don’t have that at home, but the siren song of all those colorful stones and the attendant geology were a force too great to resist. Once we were headed in that direction, the obvious flow took us deeper and deeper into natural history. Aw shucks. If I ever get back to Melbourne, I will definitely start where I left off.
After a wander along Brunswick Street (a mixture of Harvard, Central, and Davis Squares - used to be the really bohemian and alternative area, but has been upscaled somewhat) we stopped for lunch at the Black Cat cafe/bar. Rehydration was a must, as the temperature had climbed to 36°C. After lunch and more exploration of the northern part of town, we trammed back to the CBD and walked through several more gardens, including the Treasury Gardens with beautiful fountains and winding paths through lovely specimen trees. The photo below is from the conservatory in the Fitzroy Garden. I have never seen so many spectacualrly blooming begonias in my life, even at a flower show! In my next life, I will have something similar at my house, and I will hold garden parties inside in the middle of winter.
By 6PM I was physically tired for the first time since I’ve been in Australia. I had planned to walk back to Carey’s but I hopped on the tram after only a few blocks. It was air conditioned and direct and a good decision! We enjoyed her delicious lasagna leftovers, took care of the multiple partially empty bottles of wine, made inroads into the pastries I had carried around all day, and unwound for an early bedtime. I want to come back here. It’s a lovely city, and there is quite a lot I will not have explored by the time I leave on Wednesday morning. Who wants to come with me (besides Glenn, who must)?!?