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Published: March 14th 2021
It is unclear if James Cook ever lived in Cook's Cottage. It was build in England by his parents when James Cook was already an adult. The house was dismantled in the 1930-ies, brought to Australia, and rebuilt in a park in Melbourne.
A koala, a penguin, an echidna and a lot more
We travelled also before we joined TravelBlog. We have started to digitalise photos from those pre-TravelBlog trips and we are planning to write about some of them. Now the turn has come to a trip Ake made in Australia in 1995. It was a three month long journey and there will be three blog posts from it. This is the first of those. Melbourne
I started this journey in Melbourne because I knew people who lived there. With about 5 million people living in Melbourne it is the second largest city in Australia.
Since I knew people in town I could stay in their home. They lived in a house in one of Melbournes seemingly never ending suburbs. Someone told me that a house in a suburb of a large city is the most common kind of accommodation in Australia. I haven't seen any statistics on this but I have no reason to doubt it. The suburbs of the major cities, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane, just goes on an on and clearly lots of people live there. If you add to the equation
A sculpture in central Melbourne. It is a bit odd but I actually like it
that most of Australia is more or less unpopulated it makes sense that it is in the suburbs the majority of all people live.
I spent several days in Melbourne and I visited a few interesting places. I'll make a short introduction of a few of them.
=> Cook's Cottage:
James Cook was a British explorer who among other things was the first European to discover Australia. It is unclear if James Cook ever lived in Cook's cottage
. It was build in England by his parents when James Cook was already an adult. The house was dismantled in the 1930-ies, brought to Australia, and rebuilt in a park in Melbourne. Is it a silly tourist trap? Or should we thank the Australians for taking care of an historical house which otherwise might have succumbed to the English weather? It's your call.
=> Sovereign Hill: Sovereign Hill
is an open-air museum/theme park one and a half hours drive (in Australia, that's almost next-door) outside Melbourne. They have recreated a mid 19th century gold mining town there. Actually, some of the buildings in the theme park might be preserved historical buildings since this was once the location of a real gold
Not real penguins
Sculptures of penguins in Melbourne. I later on got to see some real penguins
mine, the Red Hill Mine
. The tunnels of the mine is part of the museum and can be visited. In Red Hill Mine they in 1858 dug up the second largest gold nugget
ever found. A chunk of almost pure gold weighing 69 kilos.
=> Old Melbourne Gaol:
I took a walking tour of Old Melbourne Gaol
. It is an old prison which as an attraction is more famous among Australians than among foreigners because the outlaw Ned Kelly
was executed there. Some people see Ned Kelly as an Australian Robin Hood. It is probably closer to the truth to say that he was an Aussie equivalent to Jesse James or Billy the Kid.
=> Great Ocean Road/The Twelve Apostles:
From Melbourne I went on a group tour to Great Ocean Road
. It is a spectacular stretch of road that follows the south coast of the state Victoria. One of the highlights of this tour is the Twelve Apostles, a group of limestone pillars, so called stacks, that have been formed by the ocean. The ocean still slowly eats away the coastline. Changes mostly take hundreds of years. But sometimes it can go faster than that. In 1990 an arch of a structure named London Arch
Sovereign Hill is an open-air museum/theme park in which they have recreated a mid 19th century gold mining town.
prior warning. Two tourists were actually trapped on the remaining structure and had to be rescued by helicopter. On this tour I also got to see Bells Beach
, a popular place for surfing that was made famous by the movie Point Break. A movie that I guess is largely forgotten today. And hardly anyone is sad about that.
=> Old and new architecture:
One thing I really liked about Melbourne was the mix of old and new architecture. For example, they could have two modern skyscrapers with a low 19th century historical house wedged in between them. In one place they had preserved a historical house by simply erecting a new building around it. Tasmania
After Melbourne I continued my travels by going to the island Tasmania.
=> Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park:
While I was in Tasmania I visited Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park
. I decided to go all in and took a four day long hike through the park. It was a nice hike. Much thanks to the fact that it didn't rain anything those days.
=> Bruny Island:
On Bruny Island, near Hobart, there lives a small group of wild penguins. I had never
There used to be a real gold mine there, the Red Hill Mine. The tunnels of the mine is part of the museum and can be visited.
seen wild penguins before so I felt that I just had to go there. I saw them and it was so worth it.
=> Hastings Caves and Thermal Springs:
Almost as far south as it is possible to go on Tasmania is the Hastings Caves
and Thermal Springs. The caves are limestone caves filled with stalactites and everything else that limestone caves typically have. The natural thermal springs are really small and quite unexciting. Next to the hot springs there is a pool heated by the hot springs. It sounds more exciting than it is. When I saw it I was a bit disappointed because there was nothing special about it. It was just another swimming pool.
=> Hobart + Launceston:
Before I left Tasmania I first spent a day in the city Hobart and then half a day in the city Launceston. They were both nice cities.
I then took the ferry back to Melbourne and took the bus west from there. I here feel tempted to say "I didn't get far, because I didn't even leave the state of Victoria before I found something interesting to see." But that would be somewhat misleading. Australia
Inside the mine they have recreated what it was like to work in the mine in the mid 19th century
is a very large country and even travelling within the same state is likely to take a long time. Next stop I made was 2 hours and 40 minutes drive from Melbourne at a place called Stawell. I stopped there because I wanted to visit Grampians National Park and I had also heard of a site called Bunjil's Shelter that sounded interesting. Bunji's Shelter Bunjil's Shelter
is a small cave with an aboriginal rock painting. The character depicted is Bunjil, an important figure in Aboriginal mythology. Grampians National Park
Grampians NP is large and there are many places of interest there. The hiking was good and the nature was just spectacular. I'll mention two places here.
=> The Balconies - a spectacular lookout over a valley in the park
=> Mackensie Falls - Wonderful waterfall
I hitchhiked from Stawell to Grampians NP. I was picked up by a Canadian woman who was also going to the national park. We decided that we could spend the day together just because it is more fun to hike when you have company. Just a minute or so after I entered her car we
Melbourne city centre has a lot of skyscrapers
introduced ourselves. She told me that her name was Corey. Five minutes later I could no longer remember her name. I apologised and asked her again. Five minutes later it was like my mind had been wiped clean, because I could not remember her name. I think I might have asked her again and once more I managed to forget her name. Eventually I had to explain to her that I needed something to help me remembering her name. She mentioned some celebrity who was named Corey, but it wouldn't have worked because that celebrity was unknown to me. I then asked her what her family name is. She said it was Fisher. I then replied "Carrie Fisher! Corey Fisher! I'll never forget your name!" That was a quarter of a century ago. I still haven't forgotten her name.
I hope you enjoyed reading about what I did in the first month I spent in Australia. In the next blog entry I will tell what I did and where I went after I left Grampians NP.
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