Thursday 11 February saw us in holiday mode again. Our friends from Western Australia were visiting Melbourne to attend the Edinburgh Tattoo. Having only ever spent one extremely hot day [42C] in Melbourne, we decided to fly down, spend some time with them and explore the city.
On this occasion the fickle Melbourne weather treated us perfectly. The skies were blue and it was a delight to be out and about without sweat dripping constantly, as it had back in Brisbane.
Our flight from Coolangatta was at 8am, with the result we were out exploring by mid afternoon. We decided to get the feel of the city first, by hopping on the free circle line tram. We passed one tram decorated with balloons, celebrating its 75th anniversary.
The trams were a very popular mode of transport, so quickly became crowded, limiting one's view. About 3/4 of the way round the circuit, we alighted to visit St Patrick's Cathedral. The grounds surrounding it, were quite beautiful.
In the nearby Fitzroy Gardens, we enjoyed the spreading leafy English trees, Captain Cook's Cottage and a stunning display of tuberous begonias in the Conservatory.
Making our way back to the city centre, we chanced upon a game of cricket being played near the famous MCG cricket ground.
On the Yarra River, the rowing crews were out in force.
Taking a stroll after dining, we chanced upon the state library illuminated in changing colours. Later in our stay, we visited its 1913, La Trobe Reading Room. Had we been there this weekend, the dome would have been illuminated as part of Melbourne's White Night Festival.
White Night Melbourne transforms the city through installation, lighting, exhibitions, street performances, film, music, dance and interactive events and takes place in Melbourne's streets and laneways, parklands, public spaces and cultural institutions.
White Night: Ideation in the La Trobe Reading Room, State Library Victoria. Photo: Paul Jeffers
At the conclusion of day 1, we both agreed that Melbourne had surprised and impressed us. It was friendly, relaxed, accessible, and leafy. It was busy without being hectic. Trams and not cars were in the city streets. There was striking innovative architecture, side by side with the historic. Statues and sculptures abounded.
Sunday was Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown. There was a parade at 11.30 but the dragons, drums, and firecrackers were out and about all day. It was wonderful that the crackers hadn't been banned.
Eitihad Stadium, in the heart of the city.
Characters from the famous Australian children's book, "The Magic Pudding" - Norman Lindsay.
We noted several impressive communal gardens, but the display on the footpath in front of City Hall, was quite stunning.
Street art and buskers, added to the colour of the city streets.
The famous Victoria markets were just one block from our hotel. I'm not a shopper, so was not particularly impressed, until we chanced on this 'bottle your own wine' stall.
The Southbank of the city, along the Yarra River, constantly begged one to stop and enjoy a wine, coffee or meal.
We spent an hour wandering through the Botanical gardens, but could easily have spent more time there.
Trying to find a different exit we stumbled upon the Photoheliogrpah House, built in 1874, to record the transit of Venus passing in front of the sun.
Across the way we spotted a huge, mausoleum type structure. On our way to discover its true purpose, we passed this lovely memorial to war widows and children.
I was quite surprised to learn that it was the Victorian Shrine of Remembrance. With its dominating position overlooking Melbourne and its grand architecture, I was surprised that I had not previously known of its existence.
View from its steps across the Yarra and the length of Swanston Street.
Nature reflected near by.
My favourite walk of the visit - leafy pathway beside Birdwood Avenue, taking us back to the city, after our wonderful visit to the memorial.
Saturday morning was spent checking out famous St Kilda Beach, a half hour tram ride from the city.
Midday Monday saw us on the marvellous 'Skybus' service to the airport. The morning had found us wandering through the many lanes and arcades of the central city. Again eateries were plentiful and inviting, especially the pastisseries.
Below is the Block Arcade - with its mosaic-tile flooring, a glass canopy and carved stone, the Block Arcade is one of the finest examples of a 19th-century shopping arcade on the planet.
Royal Arcade - The two giant statues of Gog and Magog have struck the hour of Gaunt’s clock, on the hour, since 1892,
A final coffee.
We were so fortunate with the weather on this visit. Tuesday saw the temperatures dropping below 20C and here in Brisbane, we were suffering a sweaty 36C. Hope you too have fallen in love with Melbourne. I would love to read your comment.