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January 18th 2015
Published: June 23rd 2017
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Geo: -37.8143, 144.963

We arrived at Station Pier, the site of pretty well every immigrant's arrival to Melbourne. We did a relatively quick bus tour of Melbourne in the morning.

We travelled through Port Melbourne, where most of the early industrial buildings have been gentrified, then along Port Phillip Bay to St Kilda, one of Melbourne's favourite areas. The houses are adorned with wrought iron railings and eaves - the iron served as ballast for the early ships. St. Kilda is a bit "rackist" (a bit of a red light district). It is the music heart of Melbourne and there are lots of restaurants. It was the hub of Jewish migration post war and very European in design, look and feel.

Melbourne was settled in 1835, a good two generations after Sydney in 1788. The settlers were free by that time (done their time as inmates) and were very idealistic and visionary. They wanted to create a utopian city that had all the amenities right from start. All the streets were 30m (99 ft) wide and had tree lined boulevards. There was an abundance of parks and entertainment venues. As a result, Melbourne is consistently rated as one of the most livable cities in the world.

They love their sport in AU and Melbourne is their sporting capital. Melbourne is the site of the National Sports Museum, Australia Athletics, Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG, 100,000 capacity), the Australian Open (started the day after we departed) and the Formula Grand Prix. Australian Football League (AFL) rules (pun intended) in Melbourne, followed by cricket in popularity. The city has a Victorian feel, much like London and Glasgow, as they all experienced their building boom during that period.

The first stop on the tour was the impressive Shrine of Remembrance, located in Kings Domain on St Kilda Road, which was originally built as a memorial to the men and women of Victoria (state) who served in World War I, but is now a memorial to all Australians war veterans. The shrine houses a war museum. At its centre is a bluestone plaque with the words "Greater Love Hath No Man" and on the 11th day, of the 11th month at the 11th hour the sunlight used to light up the stone - that was until daylight savings time was introduced in Victoria (now electric lights replicated the effect).

Our tour guide noted that the 1st shot of WW I was fired in AU when a German merchant ship tried to leave Melbourne harbour and was fired upon 4 hours after war was declared. She also noted the Vienna Boys Choir was stranded in Melbourne for the duration of the war!

Until 1901 AU was a series of state colonies, when they federated. Melbourne served as the capital until Canberra was built 27 years later. Collins Street is the heart of the city (Melbourne's version of Robson Street) and was the heart of the gold rush. 1 Collins Street was the home of the Prime Minister pre-Canberra.

We viewed the 1861 Royal Exhibition Buildings, which were used as the Victoria State parliament buildings for the 27 years that the State legislature building served as the Australian capital buildings.

The tour included Carlton (home of the University of Melbourne), Lygon Street (Little Italy) and Fitzroy Park, where Captain Cook's cottage (5' 6" doorways) was relocated to from Yorkshire and rebuilt brick-by-brick. We noticed metal collars on trees and learned they prevented possums from taking up residence.

We also learned that Melbourne was the birthplace of the 8 hour day. Although the idea originated in New Lanark, Scotland (OF COURSE!) in 1817, it was established in 1856 by Melbourne stonemasons and is memorialized by Eight Hour Day monument at the corner of Victoria and Russell Streets outside the Melbourne Trades Hall. The three 8's on top signify - 8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation and 8 hours rest, created by Robert Owen

We exited the bus near the Eureka Tower (975ft high, 88 floors), named after the miners who revolted against exorbitant government levies in 1854, and walked across the river to Flinders Street Station, one of the main transportation hubs in the city. Speaking of transportation - bikes lanes, trams, buses, cars and horses, all sharing the roads. Take that Bruce Allen and all the bike lane haters.

We walked down St Kilda road to the beach and along the beach back to the pier. En route we ran into the home of the St Kilda Celtic FC - The Wee Chief! The beach was windy but full of activity. The road was home to many impressive homes - new and old. The skyline in the background behind the houses dominated by the impressive outline of Melbourne's towers. Mr. Lawrence's at The London, a turkish restaurant provided much needed refreshment after the 10-12 km hike in the heat.

The day ended with a spectacular show by the crew/staff of the ship, featured singing and native filipino dances, in a performance called Crew Capers. Best entertainment of the cruise so far!!

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