We slept really well, which makes such a nice change when we go away. We’ve had some real rocks to lay on in some hotels/resorts! The roads outside were a bit wet but the sky was just a bit cloudy and it looked as if the rain was over for the day.
David insisted on trying iiNet again to try to get the ‘net on the laptop, which didn’t please me a whole lot; I’d come on holiday with part of the deal also being a break from the computer. So I took a big breath and exhaled a big sigh and we got on to the phone, knowing that we’d have to wait past the queue and their offer to ring us on our nominated number. We actually didn’t have to wait too long and the guy that helped us was so friendly and helpful. At the end of the call I asked him if he was in Perth (iiNet is a Perth company), but no, he was in New Zealand!!! I was shocked, but considering the time, he’d have been on normal day-rate wages whereas Perth staff would still be getting early allowance. So now David had his email and Google available, and we sat down to some awful toast with margarine for a light breakfast before beginning our day. The soy milk was also disgusting and seemed to be sweetened and got worse and worse the further down the cup I got but I supposed that a disgusting cup of tea was better than none.
Time to mention our bathroom, which was rather non-descript. It had 2 features worthy of note. The first was that there was only about 3 square inches of bench space around the basin. Barely enough room for your toothpaste while you cleaned your teeth in fact! Very strange, because there was masses of room in there to have had a decent vanity unit. The other is the shower. It was one of those massive diameter showerheads, about the size of a dinner plate and gave out approximately 3 drops of water per second. The game was to make sure you were actually under the right part of the shower head to catch the drips!!! And this is not to mention that when you first turned the water on it was scalding hot but when you added even the smallest amount of cold it felt like iced-water. Add some hot, scalding. Add some cold, penguins were queueing up for a turn! Every day it took a good 5 minutes (I know I exaggerate a lot but in this sentence I am not) to get the temperature even close to bearable before you could get into it. Even at that flow rate that’s a sinful waste of water.
Actually that’s not the end of the bathroom mention. To get into the shower we had to step over and into a very tall bathtub and the bottom of this was the most slippery thing I’ve ever stood on. Remember those penguins? I didn’t dare wash the bottoms of my feet – couldn’t risk standing on one foot, nor getting soap under them. I’d have been a gonner!
Other than that it was very clean so it’s not all bad, but David honestly took a video of how slow the shower was, with all intention of showing it to reception LOL We did tell them how bad it was and by Tuesday they’d swapped it for a tiny showerhead that scalded or froze us in more localised areas at a time.
So, freshened and ready to go, we walked back over the river to see what the daytime scenery would offer. I should mention that the wind down Market Street was strong enough for anyone’s tastes and way too cold for mine, but, not far over the bridge (Queens Bridge) we came upon a girl dressed in a little pink tutu and not much else, and 3 other people following her.
They were dressed in t.shirts and exercise gear but were each sporting pink wings. The girl cheerily replied to David that she was not cold at all and we followed them around the corner of a building and came across a huge crowd with marquees and much ‘goings on’. It turned out that we were now at the foot of the Eureka Tower, 91 floors of it! And today was the day that apparently many hundreds of people were going to climb the stairs to the 88th floor lookout to raise funds for charity.
It seems that the Eureka Tower was the tallest residential building in the world when completed. And so began a very steady stream of titles that we saw and heard everywhere. Biggest, best, first, even *only*… in the world, and we got quite a few giggles about it. And at one point I realised that occasionally the claim was ‘*One of* the biggest, best, first…’ ROFL
Anyway – the queue for the stair climbers was long and bustling and all around the edges of a courtyard, but the queue for the tourist entrance was totally clear so we went to have a look. A lady just coming out told us that the view was ‘really clear up there today’ so that made our minds up. For a fairly reasonable price, $18 each, we could purchase a ticket to go up to the 88th floor Skydeck lookout, and for a small additional fee, $22 total, we could come back later in the day and see the view at night as well. They called it ‘Sun and Stars’ and the only question was “Why not?” and we passed the girl some coins (and notes) of the Realm and were soon being bustled into a lift (thankfully!) with quite a few other people who were also taking the easy/fast route.
According to their information, 38 seconds later, we were coming out onto the 88th floor where, fairly needless to say, were some pretty amazing views. And, delightfully, we could walk around about 280° of the whole floor. The remaining part was cordoned off because of the stair climbers and you could certainly tell who had got there via that route. Red faces and damp clothing was a dead giveaway. David asked one man how long the climb had taken him and was told 12 minutes. Wow!!! He was very quick to tell us that he was quite a way short of the record which, in 2011, was 8 mins 20 seconds for the 89 (must start in the basement!) floors.
Also here was a balcony that we could go out on, and we did. To get there you had to go through an automatic glass sliding door, stand in a little glassed off area until that door shut and then push the button to open the outer door. Something to do with air pressure and air conditioning we’re guessing. On this busy day with families waiting at the top for loved ones to do the climb it was pretty busy and very few people were showing patience or understanding of the double door system so there was much pounding on the button and people getting into the ‘glass room’ before others could get out, and there was no way we were going back the way we’d come! But we did eventually get out and the wind made it loud and clear we were in the *very* fresh air once more.
It was lovely out there and the view through the strong, safe wire mesh stretched for miles and miles. We could see the whole of Melbourne city below us with all of its cultural icons as well as the river stretching away towards the Docklands, and suburb upon suburb in the other direction. From the angle we could look at from inside the building we’d been able the see the 7 kms to the ocean as well.
Meanwhile, back on the balcony, we had heard about something named The Edge Experience and were able to witness this. A large glass cube, about the size of a lift (elevator) capsule, started to slide out sideways from the building. It was made of glass but was misted so that we could not see into it. Slowly it inched its way out and then stopped. After a minute more the glass suddenly went clear and there were several people inside it. I think they all pretty much went white as the glass floor had also cleared and they could see straight down 88 floors to the ground below with nothing between them and it but air. One of the passengers was a young girl of about 12 and she pretty much started to freak out. So would I have done!
In several strategic spots around the floor, pointing out of the windows, were some silver poles with 2 silver tubes on them. I thought these were lights of some kind but it turned out that they were kaleidoscope viewers, pointing at places of interest far down below. This one, I think, is the Rod Laver Tennis Arena – I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. The tall one on each pole was for the adults to be comfortable to look through, and the smaller hopefully for kids to be able to reach or bend to. The view through them was fun anyway.
Oh, and I can’t leave this photo out! We were standing in a part of the building that stuck out from the rest, but the camera is not showing the glass on David’s right at all so it looks for all the world as though he’s standing on the outside of the building! He took a photo of me in the same spot and we also showed them to a guy who went and stood in that spot and we offered to take a photo of him using his camera. I think he was really happy with it!
We eventually came back down to earth and eventually wandered on to Southgate Shopping Centre and found a food hall with a Grill’d and enjoyed their wares for our lunch. The most entertaining part of the meal was a small sparrow that would fly around the hall garnering scraps of food until someone walked through the glass automated doors and then it would hurtle hell-for-leather out through them before they shut. I’d have loved to take a photo but I’d have needed a high speed video and then used a single frame – this bird could fly!!! It was really entertaining to watch it though. At one point, that I missed, David said that the bird perched above the closed door and then deliberately flew through the sensor to open it and then shot out.
On another day, but I’ll mention it here, we were having a chai in another spot in the food hall and David suddenly noticed the little sparrow over at Grill’d nibbling on their 2 sample rolls at the till. I do hope they don’t use those if they run short ROFL
We then continued to wander and explore and came across a life sized silver fairy. She (or is it a he?) was a busker and people were taking photos, and of course I joined in. David didn’t want to go and give her our money so I went over. She didn’t speak but moved fairly slowly. Not as slowly as those that pretend to be statues though. 2 young girls came along and the fairy beckoned them and gave them something from her little ‘dolly bag’ and the girls were so excited and ran to tell their mother. It had been glitter – or fairy dust to them. And I love that you can see between her wings the Oaks On Market, where we were staying.
We looked in the Crown Casino a little as we’d been told about their ‘spectacular main entry’. Well either I’m hard to impress or we didn’t find it LOL I’ve never seen so many one armed bandits in my entire life and we can’t believe that anyone would spend their time putting money into these things. But it gave us something to look at and discuss as we continued further on our way, back over the bridge and onto Flinders Street. Here we found the free tourist tram. These were the old wooden trams, whereas the (to my mind) ‘bus route’ trams were mostly new, metal and stream-lined. It was crowded and felt like a ‘don’t look at me’ kind of place so we looked at our map as we went along and decided to get off just before it turned left into Spring Street.
Here were the Treasury Gardens and, beyond, the Fitzroy Gardens, which had a few promising spots to look at. The Treasury Gardens were only really trees and grass but once we crossed a road, Fitzroy Gardens were more interesting. Very soon there was a Conservatory absolutely filled with every kind of orchid, plus other flowers too. (I’ll spare you the details of David getting himself into hot water with me just before we got there LOL) There was a girl inside more determined to keep the stone path raked than let people see the reason it was there – to allow access to the orchids – but such is life.
The next stop was Cooks’ Cottage but it was closed so I only got a couple of pictures of the outside, including an old fashioned post box that looked ludicrous standing here!
And on we went to the next point of interest, the model Tudor Village. I have no words for this, I’ll just give you a photo and let you make up your own mind. It had obviously seen better days.
Next stop was the Fairy Tree. How exciting!!! Not! ROFL It was probably quite something in its day; before we all had access to the mighty wonders around the world via hyperspace but… well… I’ll give you a couple of photos and let you make up your own mind on this too. The photos actually look better than the real thing 🙂
It was time for something reliable (and a loo) so we went into the Pavilion Café where the sign announced that the toilets were for the use of patrons only. I wish we’d have managed to find these toilets, but we didn’t. We ordered a coffee each and a frivolous something to share. ‘Frivolous something’ is code for ‘I can’t remember what it was. I think it was perhaps a lemon slice or something. I asked David to just save me the last 2 bites and he had the rest.
From here we started to make our way back generally Westwards, though we were heading slightly north as well. No point retracing steps when there is so much new to see! I adored this folly and managed to get one photo before half the population of Melbourne came and scattered themselves liberally nearby.
As we continued our wanderings, we then found ourselves with this view of a very fine looking cathedral roof and decided to go and find that and explore it, with every hope that it would be open.
Being a Sunday, our hopes were rewarded and we were so glad of it. Walking through the door was almost a strange experience. On the outside, the door had appeared of normal size but, the second we had gone through it, it instantly shrunk to miniature in comparison to its revealed surroundings.
The atmosphere in this incredibly beautiful building just gave me instant goosebumps and I felt blinky with the emotion of it. It is probably more than 40 years since I have stepped into a place of such religious splendour and history. As much history as Australia can offer from its colonised influences anyway. This was St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral and a thing of vast beauty it was! It kept us both occupied very happily with our cameras for quite some time and I still feel rather in awe of the place as I write this, 2 weeks later!
From here we tried once more to make our way towards the tram line but once again got side-tracked by a really interesting water feature and had a lot of fun photographing one another standing in the centre of it and capturing the rainbows that were glinting in the falling water droplets.
David found a gents loo but there wasn’t a ladies – not that I could see anyway.
But eventually we made it to the tram and after a little bit of a wait, along it came. I almost went to sit on a seat along one side wall of the tram, only to realise that there was no seat there! Considering there were bench seats along the full length of this side of the tram it was quite a surprise to find a gap for the unwary! So I stood in the void leaning against the wall for stability and David hung on the strap close by. The 2 ladies on the bench on my left as well as the 2 ladies on the one on my right were giggling, obviously at each other, and in the end David said “Out with it!” It seems the one immediately on my left had been caught by the same trap that nearly seduced me, but she had ended up in an unladylike pile on the floor. Oh dear! At least she wasn’t hurt, thank goodness, but we then joined in the giggling as well. We rattled along again, this tram not nearly as crowded as the last one, and a much improved journey by speaking with the fun ladies also.
Quite a few stops further on was Docklands and, seeing as we had almost booked a hotel here, we decided to see what we had missed out on. Truthfully? Not a whole lot. Despite the fact that there were many fairly tall hotels and apartment blocks it still felt very much like a place under construction. There were boats tied up on our left as we walked along the dock, and a few restaurants and an ice cream place but it all felt, to us, new and unappealing. Eventually though we found a toilet, for which I was very grateful. I have to say that this was the only time that we couldn’t find a toilet when we wanted one and I don’t have a single toilet horror story to tell. Regular readers will know that I almost always have at least one – but Melbourne is to be praised, not only for its wonderful public convenience availability, but their cleanliness! Even one that I used, which was down stairs as if you were going into an underground railway station and obviously very old, was incredibly clean!
Anyway, back to Docklands. We didn’t see anywhere that appealed enough to us to go in for refreshments or to spend any time so we looked around for a supermarket, which we found fairly close by. It was very small as such things go but we bought some fruit, juice, chips, ham, cheese and honey and then went back to the tram stop to take our wares home.
After about 5 minutes a tram came along but it said ‘out of service’ on the front and the driver was waving ‘no’ with her hand as she drove by. We began to have suspicions that tourist tram services were over for the day and checked our brochure. Sure enough it was 6:10pm and they all finished at 6. We still hadn’t got a feel for the time so had not realised how late it was. Not only because of the time difference, but because Melbourne was on Daylight Savings Time and Perth doesn’t do that so we’re not used to it in any way. So we checked our little pocket map and set off to walk. The walk went without adventure I am very happy to report and we walked the journey of about 2.5 kms, deciding to go straight to the Eureka Skydeck for the Stars part of our ticket rather than waste time going to the hotel. We were hoping to catch the sunset so we didn’t have time to waste.
We arrived at the Skydeck in plenty of time and David bought himself a beer and got a packet of chips for me and we found the spot that we wanted to view from and guarded it jealously 🙂 The sunset was not spectacular but it was still lovely to be up there watching it, and it was interesting to see how dark the streets below were whilst we could still see the sun quite clearly from our height. David was thrilled to be able to see the Spirit of Tasmania ferry setting out from beyond Docklands – we had to use my big zoom lens to read the massive writing on the side of the boat.
Once it was dark we really enjoyed watching the lights stretched out before us for mile upon mile and suddenly David noticed some fireworks that were being set off probably about 4 kms away. I managed to get a couple of photos, though they won’t win any awards. That’s the second time we’ve viewed fireworks from above and it’s such a wonderful feeling. We also watched out for the Crown Casino gas flames but we could only see 2 of them because of the angle we were on so that wasn’t so thrilling.
And I know it’s not very exciting, but after that we went back to our room and had sandwiches for dinner. I was looking through the big glossy tourist book and found mention of a Colonial Tramcar Restaurant and we went on the web to try to book a meal but could not have got in until the following Tuesday. We were to leave on Saturday 🙁 Such a shame, and about the only thing we came home regretting. Maybe another time. I strongly considered ringing them to see if we could ‘wait list’ but David said it wasn’t worth it. On our last evening as we were walking around we saw one of these travelling restaurants go slowly past us on the Queens Bridge. I bet it would have been a wonderful experience! And I should think rather unique in the world.
So we came to the end of our first full day in Melbourne. We had packed so much in and could hardly believe that we were only 1 day into our holiday! We had walked approximately 9 kms this day and were happy to go to bed, leaving the curtains open to drink in the beautiful night-time view of the city lights if we should happen to peek our eyes open. Whoever got up first in the night was to close them so that the morning light wouldn’t wake us. The clear view that we had of the Eureka Tower now had a different meaning because we’d been in it, and looked out from it. And yes David, you were correct that the building on the left is taller than the one viewed in the centre LOL
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