Here's Melbourne! Wednesday, 12/7/16

Did you know that "QANTAS" is an acronym for the airlines original name, "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services," and it's nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo?"  I didn't think it was quite as comfy as the smaller Air New Zealand turbo-props with the pretty silver fern motif on the aft section of the fuselage, but it got us here!

On the Sydney-Melbourne flight, this so-called Basque Cake accompanied our refreshments. None of our group was exactly sure what we were eating, it was basically tasteless, but everyone one of us scarfed it down like we were starving.  We all talked about it later, as in, "what was that?"  We all laughed about it, and wagged our heads in disbelief at our own wacky selves!

We arrived around Noonish, no problems, boarded a coach for a ride through the city en route to the Royal Botanical Gardens for lunch.  Just love Road Scholar (and Albert) who sees to, and takes care of, everything, including feeding us on a regular basis!  And I adore botanical gardens.

So far, nobody in our group has had a mishap crossing streets as pedestrians!  Each of us has a tendency to look in the wrong direction for oncoming traffic, but we're learning!

All these pics were taken on the moving coach, which isn't the best possible way to capture an image! Above is a bit of the Royal Exhibition Building, circa 1880, another World Heritage Site-listed building.  By the way, I don't know if I've mentioned this yet, but it's interesting to me 'cause of the difference in our countries.  In both NZ and AU, all buses or coaches are outfitted with seat/shoulder straps, and the coach goes nowhere until everyone is buckled up.  Good idea, we should do this in the US!

Occasionally, the point'n'shoot is right on the money!

I wish I could have photoed the entire Forum Theatre (1929) in my shot,
but I couldn't.  It looked so cool.

Again, only a section of St Paul's Cathedral, a neo-Gothic Melbourne landmark, built between 1880 and 1931.  Maybe we'll get a chance to go inside one of these famous buildings.

But, now it's time for a short tour of the gardens and lunch at The Terrace.

If you can see the photograph of the long-necked turtle, it's quite a sight!  
I'd like to see a real one.

Today our sandwiches/wraps had been pre-made to save time, and there's always a vegetarian option (for Sonya, and sometimes for me), and I was in luck today. Dessert? You betcha, we indulged in their freshly baked "signature" scones with clotted creme and jam. OMG, died and gone to heaven!

Some folks have settled back in a wooden punt to enjoy viewing these premier gardens as their "professional punter" tells them about its history, environment, wildlife and plants; we didn't have time for this, darn it.

Ficus dammaropsis: one of the more interesting plants I saw at the gardens -- "highland breadfruit" -- or dinner plate fig, a tropical fig tree with huge pleated leaves over 23" (60cm) across.  The tree had to be 20 ft tall.

* * * * * * * * * *

After lunch, we were off to visit the Shrine of Remembrance, a moving experience for everyone.

We gathered beneath this lone Pine, a "grandchild tree" planted in 2006 after the original tree (planted in 1933) died from disease.  The original tree was situated near the north-east corner of the Shrine by Lieutenant-General Sir Stanley Savige at a formal ceremony. It was one of four seedlings planted in Victoria from seeds of a cone brought back from Gallipoli by Sgt. Keith McDowell (from Wiki).

One of our crew placed a red poppy at it's base.  There is so much to the Parkland area known as the Kings Domain: sculptures, etc., an entire gallery of medals, a garden with a pool and waterfalls, and more, much more.  

Best guy in the whole world.

From the Shrine, this "image" of indigenous leader William Barak, an elder of Melbourne's Wurundjeri tribe and instrumental in bridging the gulf between black and white cultures, hauntingly appears. 

On Remembrance Day (11/11), dignitaries, community members and the general populace gather at the Stone of Remembrance (above) to commemorate "the sacrifices made by Australians in all wars and conflicts."  The inscription is part of a verse from the Bible, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." 

The Stone is aligned with an aperture in the roof of the Sanctuary so that a ray of sunlight falls on the word LOVE on the Stone of Remembrance at exactly 11am on 11/11, marking the hour and day of the Armistice which ended World War I. With the introduction of daylight saving in Victoria, the ray of sunlight is no longer in the right place at 11 am, so a mirror has been installed to direct sunlight onto the Stone at 11am. During the rest of the year, a light is used to simulate the effect, and here our intrepid troop paused to observe the light and say a prayer.  I had to walk away, tears filling my eyes.

Although Remembrance Day (11/11) is the official day for commemorating the war dead, it's gradually been eclipsed in the public estimation by ANZAC Day (April 25th), which, unlike Remembrance Day, is a specifically Australian and New Zealand day of commemoration.  We've heard a lot about ANZAC since we've been Downunder.

Whew, after all of that emotion, we jumped back on the coach for a visit to the Eureka Tower and Eureka Skydeck 88, which occupies the entire 88th floor of the tower. I'm told that the tower, at 935 ft, is the highest vantage point in a building in the Southern Hemisphere.  Jimmy and I walked outside to the "terrace" and looked down, 88 stories, plus I swear the structure was moving!  Scary!  The city views are fantastic, tho, and how about these statistics below?
  • 556 apartments
  • 13 lifts (elevators) traveling up to 9 m/s (equivalent to 20mph)
  • 52,000 m2 of windows
  • 3680 stairs
  • 110,000 tons of concrete
  • 5000 tons of reinforced steel
  • Building weighs 200,000 tons

Melbourne is perched at the edge of Port Phillip Bay. 

Then there's this gem.  That about finishes up our first day in Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bun).  We checked into the Swanston Grand Mercure Hotel and ate dinner in the dining room on the first floor. At 8pm, a video was presented on Australian Wildlife, called "Faces in the Mob," but Jimmy had already seen it and I was too pooped to participate.  We are retired, and so we retired.  I know this post is long, but egads, what a first day!


  1. Oh so much to see and photograph and talk about! I am pretty sure that a moving skyscraper is a good thing, flexibility in earthquakes and such. Clotted cream...looks yummy but now I have to go look up what it actually IS. Gardens are just so lovely, and especially gardens with all sorts of things you don't see in your local landscape. And, I cannot imagine being tied up in a seat belt on a bus. Of course it is safer, but ohmyugh!!! so claustrophobic as it is, that would make it even harder. And, thanks to you, I did remember to think Melbun when I saw your title.

    1. Nope, no earthquakes in Australia! Bus seats in NZ/AU are comfy, so no big deal on the belts, tho they do snap in on the other side! :- ) Clotted cream? Just inject it straight into your artery, I'm sure! hahahaha It was wunnerful.

  2. Wow, what a first day!


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