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North of the Yarra

Wednesday 26th August 2015

semi-overcast 13 °C

We only had one full day in Melbourne and so straight after breakfast we caught the tram from South Yarra into the city centre.

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We had brought our Myki cards and put enough credit on them to pay for the days public transport. Getting off at the Arts Centre we then made the short walk to the Eureka Tower.

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The Skydeck is 297 metres above street level and is the highest public observation deck in the Southern Hemisphere. It was surprisingly quiet when we got there. Had we been there an hour or two earlier we would have been caught up in a party of 150 school children! We went straight into the lift and were amazingly quickly taken up to the 88th floor. One of the attractions at the Skydeck is The Edge. This is a cube which is pushed out beyond the walls of the tower on hydraulic rams, 300 metres above the street. If this wasn't scary enough, the cube starts out as opaque glass including the floor, only to become transparent after it has been pushed out.

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This was too scary for us (although Nigel might dispute this) so we just watched from an external viewing platform that had a nice solid floor, safety rail and mesh walls. We spent loads of time looking at the view from the tower and taking photographs.

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We then had a coffee and continued to enjoy the view. We got chatting to an English guy who now lives and works in Melbourne who likes the tower so much that he has bought an annual season ticket. He gave us loads of ideas of things we could do while we were in the city, most of which sadly we didn't have time to do.

Once we left the Eureka tower we walked the short distance to Hosier Lane which is Melbourne's famous graffiti spot. Every available surface was covered, and the place had a strange feeling of edginess despite being a tourist location.

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There was a group of police officers dealing with someone whilst tourists young and old were wandering up and down taking photographs. From there we went to the stunning Block Arcade where we did a little bit of shopping. Nigel was hoping to buy himself a new radio whilst I was quite keen to go to the historic Old Melbourne Gaol, one time home to the notorious Ned Kelly. We both got on the free circular city tram and I got off near the city library whilst Nigel stayed on. Initially I got a bit confused as to where the Gaol was but eventually found it. They seem very hot in Melbourne on ensuring people get any concessionary rates they are entitled to and as a 60+ person was eligible for a discount even though I'm not Australian. On the off chance the guy asked if I was a member of the National Trust in the UK and even though I didn't have an international card (or even my UK one) he let me in for free.

I had a chat to one of the guides about prison building styles (the good old Bentham's Panopticon) and Victorian verses modern regimes. We talked for quite a while before I decided I ought to leave the poor man to get on with his other work. I had a good look round and read some of the displays in the cells spread over three floors.

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I was particularly interested in some if the information about women incarcerated as a result of being involved in the baby farming trade. There was also information about Ned Kelly, his early life and his eventual demise. There were lots of school children visiting the gaol and it was interesting seeing their reaction to some of the exhibits, but I wondered as to whether they were a bit young to know about some of the more brutal aspects of the prison's history. It was then time for me to go back to the State Library of Victoria to meet Nigel.

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There was just time for me to have a quick look at the 1993 Sinking Building sculpture by Dutch-born Petrus Spronk. It would appear there is some dispute as to whether it is a sinking building or a representation of knowledge and learning rising up out of the ground. Either way it was good to see it. Nigel and I soon found each other, and as we hadn't eaten since breakfast decided to get some food. There were lots of fast food restaurants nearby due to the proximity to the city's University of Technology. We saw a Nando's and both agreed that this was our favoured option. After eating we decided we were both feeling tired so went to get the tram back to South Yarra. I had decided that my hair needed some maintenance so the evening was spent touching up my roots and packing for our flight to Sydney!

Posted by Gill's Travels 06:09 Archived in Australia Tagged melbourne australia yarra

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