Another busy day today! After a lovely dinner last night (we used WhereIs to search for nearby restaurants and chose one based on its name), we were ready to go. Yesterday we managed to tackle two locations, which took all day, so we decided to keep to form – the King’s Domain and the Victoria Street Markets.
We began with a walk through the Botanic Gardens, and were stunned at the variety of vegetation and the presentation of the whole area. Walking through, you could hardly tell you were in a major city, with only the smell of trees, flower and grass about – no smog! The highlights for us (apart from the tearooms complete with cheesecake) were the Glasshouses and the Herb Garden. The Tropical Glasshouse not only felt like home, but held a huge variety of tropical plants – including some from our patio! There were beautiful flowers, and also plants like ginger, coffee, and vanilla – which we learnt is actually a type of orchard.
The Herb Garden was very interesting, and we looked on in envy, imagining our own herb garden at home looking even remotely like this one. It would be great to set up a big barbeque in the middle of it and greedily strip the herbs back just to create a huge variety of marinades!
From the Botanic Gardens, we ventured to the Shrine of Remembrance. It had been empty and closed when we first walked past it, now two hours later it was a hive of activity. We were denied access through the first entry as there was a major unveiling going on for some Victorian stamps commemorating the April 15 battle of Borneo (or somewhere) in 1918 (or sometime). We then noticed it was April 15. And there were lots of diplomats, and all flags at half mast. Who was to know?? I remember a similar situation when we were going around Australia, and decided to visit the national War Memorial in Canberra. We got close, but noticed there were far too many people milling around the area, and it looked like too much effort. It was only as we drove away that we noticed that not only was it November 11 (Remembrance Day), but it was dangerously close to 11am as well… (*Footnote – the News has just stated that they were officially unveiling this year’s commemorative ANZAC Day stamps. No wonder it was packed…)
We gained access to the Shrine through a different entrance, joining the throngs of Japanese tourists. I’m probably underestimating, but there were at least 20 AAPT buses lined up. The Shrine itself was full of information, and quite grand. We were able to climb to the top level and get a stunning view of the city and the surrounds. Obviously my diet and exercise has paid off, because one Japanese tourist not only wanted Emma to take a picture of him with Melbourne in the background, but he insisted I be in the picture as well… while he hugged me! I don’t have photographic proof, but I’m sure it will be on YouTube in no time.
Having explored the King’s Domain for well over three hours, we jumped on a tram heading into town. From there we jumped on the Airport West tram which took us past Victoria Street Markets. Wanneroo has some catching up to do. We could move to Melbourne just to buy our meat, seafood, fruit and vegetables from here! With about five different seafood stalls and at least 10 different butchers all running out of the same small space, competition was high, prices were low and the variety in cuts was amazing! Their barramundi were pitiful though – they’d be used as live bait in Fitzroy! We wandered through, revelling in the smell of fresh bread, browsing through hundreds of different cheeses and tasting some stunning oils and vinegars – one, an apple-flavoured balsamic vinegar, tasted so much like apples, you could have poured it in with the pears and custard! It would go great in a pork marinade, I reckon.
We finished by strolling through the other parts of the markets – “rubbish goods”. If you ever need useless pieces of junk to fill up your house, I recommend coming here to splurge. One stall did catch the eye, with some great wooden chopping boards and cheese boards, but other than that it was just a good way to work off the cheesecake from this morning.
We finished off our afternoon wandering back through the city, through the Bourke Street Mall (only buying a few things, we promise) and deciding to cross the Yarra to visit the Art Gallery. We reached the Art Gallery to find that Tuesdays are the only day they are closed! Oh well, it leaves us something for another day…
One thing we have noticed on both days in Melbourne is the amount of school kids out and about on excursion. The teachers all look very happy, and the kids all behave themselves beautifully. We are starting to remember what mainstream school look like. None of this helps our Principal in Fitzroy Crossing, Paul, in his quest to convince us to stay for a fourth year… we’ll let you join the dots!
We’re catching up with Marcus tonight at the Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda. It has a rich history for Australian Music, and with any luck there will be a bit to see on the walls around it. It’s also a good opportunity to drink with a fellow Fitzroy Crosser! Until tomorrow…