Thursday, 11th October – Melbourne

Awoke to a beautiful, sunny, chillyish morning (around 11 degrees). We decided to forego breakfast in the hotel and walk down the South Bank for brunch. Suitably sourced and demolished in lovely sunshine.

We then decided to have a look around on the other side of the river, along the famous (?) lanes and arcades. This did at least give us some idea of the older side of Melbourne, but many were just filled with shops and restaurants. I\’d say there were more restaurants per square metre in this part of Melbourne than anywhere else I have ever been.

All really rather twee.

However, the next section was rather more down and dirty, and a big, big moment for me:

AC/DC are one of my favourite rock bands of all time. Nuff said, but here\’s a Wikipedia reference which may interest other fans of the band:

Thence a walk to Fitzroy Gardens in the east of the city. Nice enough, but the highlight (to my surprise and delight) was Cook Cottage. I really wasn\’t expecting much of this at all.

This has been transported, brick by brick, from a small village near Whitby in Yorkshire. It originally housed James Cook\’s parents, James Snr and Grace, the famous James being the second-born of eight, and was originally built in 1755. This transportation was financed in the early 1930s by Russell Grimwade, a wealthy Australian who wanted to mark the centenary of Melbourne in a significant way, completely ignoring the fact that Captain James Cook never actually lived in it.

Much of the interior of this tiny edifice has been reproduced as faithfully as possible, but the really interesting bit came in the extension at the back, which was probably a stable originally. There was a video running on a loop about the history of the cottage and the lineage of the Cook family, and there was a truly fascinating screen presentation about the three voyages that Captain James Cook undertook between 1768 and his death in 1779. It has inspired me to find out more about this extraordinary man and his extraordinary life, not all of it good, it has to be said.

The central zone of Melbourne supports a network of trams, which are free in that zone. We took advantage of this to visit the State Library Victoria, one of the largest in the world. Very interesting internal architecture and a huge variety of presentations around the various balconies, not least of which was one about the (in)famous Ned Kelly. I\’ve always regarded him as a bandit who deserved what was coming to him, but the Australians tell it differently as one who stood up for the rights of the poorer people. Far too complicated to go into here, but a real mix of hero and villain, it would seem.

I\’d booked a cruise on a restaurant boat for later that evening, which took us eastwards down the Yarra River and included a four-course meal. Pleasantly relaxed, and the food was good without being brilliant. Drinks were inclusive, though, so we took full advantage……

Some pictures of the Melbourne cityscape at night were also part of the experience.

Again, only a vague idea about what to do tomorrow, but it will all pan out, I\’m sure.

On the admin front, have checked us in for our flight from Melbourne to Hobart on Saturday. The next stage of our adventure awaits……

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