Welcome to what I believe to be Day 13 and halfway through the Blogging A to Z April Challenge. As you may be aware, my theme for 2020 is Places I’ve Been and today, we’re off to Melbourne.
While we’re all armed to the hilt to evade the coronavirus, while we’re in Melbourne you’ll also need to keep your eyes peeled for the trams. They look innocuous enough from a distance, but don’t be fooled. They can become terrifying missiles of personal destruction. That’s why there’s plenty of signage to keep you on your toes. So, my first word to you, is to heed the advice.
When it came to writing about Melbourne, again I wondered whether I really had the goods. Being Sydney born and bred, Melbourne’s always been that abomination South of the border. In other words, it was the enemy.
However, then I finally made it down to Melbourne in my early 20’s, I actually quite liked it (not that I actually let on when I came home). The trams made it very easy to get around and were quite a novelty. Moreover, I loved all the fashion outlets, especially checking out Melbourne’s great fashion Mecca, Chapel Street.
There was also the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). However, that’s not where you’ll find Melbourne’s most famous portrait. Rather, you’ll find Chloé located in the upstairs bar of the Young and Jackson Hotel, where it’s been since 1909, and not without controversy.
Of course, as a Sydneysider, it’s very tempting to point out all the things that Melbourne hasn’t got. First cab off the rank, of course, is our beautiful harbour, and Melbourne seems a bit short-changed with its alternative… the muddy Yarra River. Adding to that, there’s no SYDNEY Opera House and no SYDNEY Harbour Bridge. It doesn’t live up to us on the beach front either. After all, it doesn’t have Bondi either!!
However, there’s one thing Melbourne has which Sydney’s sorely missing. That is Masterchef. Yes, Masterchef is based in Melbourne. So, if Melbourne wasn’t the Australian food capital before Masterchef, it certainly is now. That in itself could be reason enough to defect. I wouldn’t be the first, and I won’t be the last.
Melbourne is also the capital of Australian Rules Football, and the finale is held down there every year no matter whose playing. I’ve never been to a match in Melbourne, but the family would like to make it down for the final one day, although it is very expensive. By the way, I’m a Sydney Swans supporter, our son goes for Greater Western Sydney, while Geoff goes for Essendon and any team that’s playing Collingwood.
Of course, Melbourne isn’t completely devoid of beaches. While I haven’t really checked most of them out, I have been to Brighton Beach, with its brightly painted bathing boxes, which are well over a hundred years old and date back to the Victorian era where one didn’t strut down the main street showing your ankles let alone in your bikini.
This brings me to Port Melbourne, which we experienced at sunrise after sailing overnight on board the Spirit of Tasmania. However, although I didn’t know it at the time, my Great Grandfather, Reuben Gardiner, who was a Second Mate on board the Adelaide Steamship Company’s coal steamer, the Dilkera, had had a very different experience of Port Melbourne.
On Tuesday 8th April, 1924, the Dilkera, ploughed into a small coastal steamer, the Wyrallah, which had steered right in front of the Dilkara’s path in a treacherous stretch of water near the entrance of Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay, known as The Rip. Five crew members and one passenger on board the Wyrallah drowned. Indeed, the Wyrallah sank like a stone in less than ten minutes, while the heartbreaking cries of the drowning men could still heard from the Dilkera, until there was nothing but silence. If you would like to read more about the collision, you can reach a previous post HERE.
We probably shouldn’t leave Melbourne on such a tragic note and so I’ll take you on a quick virtual tour of the National Gallery of Victoria (the NGV). Firstly there’s the Marking-Time exhibition of Indigenous art. “This exhibition explores drawings and markings of figures, signs or text made on public surfaces across Indigenous Australia, from rock face to now. ” There’s also Top Arts 2020 Top Arts 2020 which celebrates the exceptional and thought-provoking work of VCE Art and VCE Studio Arts students. Drawn from a range of media, topics, schools and students, Top Arts 2020 is part of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority’s annual showcasing of excellence. This LINK will take you on a virtual tour of the exhibition. To be perfectly honest with you, I found it a little creepy exploring this vast white gallery space designed for large milling crowds of people, but is conspicuously empty. Of course, this has nothing to do with our current scenario of social distancing which has naturally closed the gallery altogether leaving the artworks together to haunt each other in this ghostly space. BTW I also had a bit of fun running through this virtual gallery with my mouse, where there was no one to throw me out and spoil the fun.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our tour of Melbourne. You never know quite where you’re going to end up on one of my tours. However, by now you’ve learned to expect the expected.
Have you ever been to Melbourne? Or, perhaps you live there and can really show me up with a few more detailed posts. I acknowledge this barely scratches the surface. Indeed, I freely admit that I barely know the place. However, since it’s looking like we won’t be able to go overseas for quite a long time, an extended trip to Melbourne where we could also catch up with family is probably on the cards.
Sending love to you and yours through these difficult times.