In October 2016, we visited Melbourne for the first time using Sophia's school break. Melbourne is a very diverse city with immigrants from all over the world, specifically it is called the third largest greek city outside Greece by number of citizens of Greek decent—47% of all Greek Australians live in Melbourne—and the third largest city outside Italy—according to Wikipedia “over two-thirds of people in Melbourne speak only English at home (68.8%). Italian is the second most common home language (4.0%).”. We took advantage of this diversity and had each night different ethnic food, such as Greek and Japanese.
After flying two hours from Sydney to Melbourne, we spent the first day in the Melbourne Sea Life Aquarium. Highlight was a Glass Bottom Boat Tour above the 2.2 million litre Oceanarium to get closer look at a giant Queensland grouper (800kg) and a huge Grey Nurse Shark. The guide, called “Skipper” on this 20 metres “sea” journey, revealed many details of how the aquarium works behind the scenes.
We explored the tunnels that allow you to venture under the water tanks.
The penguins were fascinating to watch.
We were impressed how much you can see through the thick plexiglass walls.
On Thursday, we used the free tram to explore the second largest city in Australia with its Queen Victoria Market and Victorian architecture, often referred to as "cultural capital” of Australia. Melbourne is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip which means that it has a huge inland body of water next to the city, but as many people from Sydney point out, no ocean beaches. According to Wikipedia "Melbourne rates highly in education, entertainment, health care, research and development, tourism and sport, making it the world's most liveable city—for the sixth year in a row in 2016, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is a leading financial centre in the Asia-Pacific region, and ranks among the top 30 cities in the world in the Global Financial Centres Index.
On Friday, we ventured out of Melbourne visiting the town of Gembrook via a historical train ride, a narrow gauge heritage railway operated by steam engines, from Belgrave to Gembrook, called the Puffing Billy. We were allowed to ride by sitting on the ledge of the open-sided carriages.
Here a time lapse video of our ride:
On Saturday, we visited Captain Cook's Cottage located in the Fitzroy Gardens. The cottage was constructed in 1755 in the English village of Great Ayton in England by the parents of Captain James Cook. Then, in the 1930ies it was moved to Melbourne and is now a historical site and museum—deconstructed brick by brick and packed into 253 cases and 40 barrels for shipping. In addition to the actual building, one can walk a vegetable yard that mimics what English countrymen were growing in their yard in England at the time.
On Sunday, we visited the Old Melbourne Gaol and the old City Police Watch House next to it. the gaol was first constructed in 1839 operating as a prison between 1842 and 1929. It held and executed some of Australia's most notorious criminals, including bushranger Ned Kelly. Wikipedia states that "Prisoners convicted of serious crime, such as murder, arson, burglary, rape and shooting, would begin their time on the ground floor with a time of solitary confinement. They were also forbidden from communicating with other prisoners, which was strictly enforced by the usage of a silence mask, or calico hood, when outside their cells. They would only be given a single hour of solitary exercise a day, with the remaining 23 hours spent in their cells. Inside the cells, prisoners would be able to lie on a thin mattress over the slate floors. They could only bathe and change clothes once a week, and attend the chapel on Sundays (with a Bible provided to promote good behaviour). Prisoners might only have been allowed to finally socialise with other prisoners towards the end of their sentences."
On Sunday night, we returned to Sydney in windy weather on a very bumpy flight.
More pictures here.