OK. I know I was talking about never wanting to go to Melbourne ever again (see here), but as Dani’s cousins were here I got dragged into it. We spent a couple of nights in Melbourne taking in the city sights (such as they are) and took a day trip over to Philip Island for the penguin parade.
Victoria State Library
The Victoria state library is worth a visit. Just for a walk around to marvel at the fantastic Victorian (era) architecture. They just don’t build them like this any more. It remined me a lot of the big city libraries in the UK. Notably the libraries in Liverpool and Manchester which have similar large, round and domed reading rooms. (I am sure other UK cities too.)
The library also houses the famous suit of armour worn by that most infamous/heroic/notorious/famous (you choose) of bushrangers, Ned Kelly. It is instantly recognisable to anyone who knows only the slightest piece of Kelly’s story.
Which brings me nicely on to the next port of call…
Melbourne Old Gaol
This is the place where Ned Kelly was hanged – Melbourne Old Gaol. This place obviously never changes. I first visited it back in the 1990s. It is a typical Victorian era gaol with three floors of small cells with small windows. Very grim and similar to the old prisons in the UK. We also did a tour of the next-door holding cell area which only closed in the mid 90s (we were told). That part I do not recall… But here are some photos from our visit.
Nearby, we passed by the old swimming baths. Nice to see this fantastic piece of history still standing and going strong. The inside remains almost as good as I remember it, with only some modernisation. We only took a quick peek.
Almost certainly the most famous band to come out of Australia, AC/DC are well-known the world over. So their home city was bound to pay some kind of tribute. They did so by renaming a narrow backstreet after the rock group.
The street has several bars and restaurants and soon became a beacon for wall art (aka graffiti) – although originally done with the best intentions. A bit like the silo or water-tower art we have seen so much of in the countryside. Blank spaces of wall were offered to artists as blank canvasses. Here is the result…
Not far from AC/DC Lane lies Hosier Lane. Another long backstreet that has been handed over to would-be artists who seem to have sprayed crap over some of the better work. It all starts to get a bit messy around here. But the tourists seemed to like it still and took every photo opportunity they could. Odd I thought but hey…
It is quite something to say that one of the biggest attractions (if that is even the right word) for tourists seemed to be this area of graffiti covered old buildings. But this definitely looked to be the case. There were tourists aplenty, some even on guided walking tours. Some of the graffiti is clearly artistic and I have no problem with it but there is now more that is basically just wonton vandalism. Still there were plenty of tourists taking the same photos as me. And I seriously doubt many were AC/DC fans.
I wish I had some good photos of these little creatures but sadly I don’t. Most were out of focus or too far away. I honestly remember this tourist trap being really good with lots of penguins and even being able to walk amongst them in the nesting areas. Getting really close to them now is a matter of luck it seems. First of all there were not that many penguins emerging from the sea – at least on the night we went. I understand that number can vary day to day, but I seem to recall there being quite a lot when I first came here all those years ago.
Secondly unless the penguins walk right alongside the boardwalk you don’t get close at all. Is my memory clouded in nostalgia I wonder? I am convinced it was much better than this. Anyway, the kids were thrilled with the few penguins we did see, and as that was the main reason for the trip it has to be considered ‘mission accomplished’.
On reflection I would say that Melbourne really is a more ‘liveable city’ than Sydney. I think it is much easier to get around (suburbs etc included) and that count for a lot. But if someone was to come to Australia for just a few days I would recommend Sydney. It is more “visitable” (is that a new word?).
So, will I go back to Melbourne ever again? I doubt it. But as the saying goes; ‘never say never’.