Monday, February 10, 2014


It's hard to believe that there are only 23 million people living on an island continent almost as expansive as the USA, and even more surprising that there are more kangaroos here than people!  I arrived in a Melbourne heat wave.  It was 100 degrees over the weekend and I almost fainted on a city walking tour on Sunday.  I dropped out of the tour, but got some city photos before I was overcome with the heat.  

The tour started in front of the library, and the guide suggested a look at one of the reading rooms before the tour began.  I could read in this beautiful room any day of the week.

There was a lovely exhibition of art outside this room, mostly paintings of Melbourne and the surrounding area in earlier days.  The library itself was a beautiful building.

You could play a game of chess near the front entrance.

This very tall young man is Hugo, our tour guide (and a very good one) and the woman is Jeannie from Orange, California, who was my walking buddy.

One of the buildings we saw was the Royal Exhibition Building, which was built in the 1880's for the Melbourne International Exhibition, and then hosted Australia's first Parliament in 1901.

I loved the fountain in the front with the duck-billed platypuses peeking over the second tier,

This is the jail where the infamous Ned Kelly was imprisoned before he was hanged at this site at age 25.  This bold bank robber was thought by some to be Australia's Robin Hood.  Health Ledger starred in a film about this notorious fellow.

Graffiti art is apparently encouraged by some in Melbourne, and you can find some interesting art down little alleys in the downtown area.

I don't remember what this building was, but I just liked it.

This is one of the older theaters that is still in use, with Melbourne's more modern skyscrapers as background.

After I quit the tour, I cooled off in a shopping mall and then decided it was a good day for a museum visit.  I headed for the Melbourne Museum which I knew was behind the Royal Exhibition Building.  Their special exhibit would have delighted 007 fans.

Not being a Bond fan, I recognized only 3 ofthe 6 actors who have portrayed him.  I spent a couple of hours enjoying the excellent section on the First Peoples, the aborigines of Australia.  Theirs is as sad a story as that of the American Indian.  

I was very surprised when I left the museum that the temperature had dropped significantly.  All it took was a shift in the wind from a northern to southern breeze to cool the temperature by 20 degrees, exactly the opposite of home.  And there was no storm to announce this dramatic shift!

I left the city yesterday to take a tour of the Great Ocean Road, a 150 mile two-lane road that winds its way along the southeastern coast of Australia.  It's actually a war memorial, built by the returning solders of WWI who could not find work in Australia's then very depressed economy.  I had thought about renting a car and doing the drive myself, but I was glad to just sit back and enjoy the ocean views.

The Twelve Apostles are Australia's number 1 tourist attraction.  There were originally 15 of these limestone stacks off the shores of Port Campbell National Park, but six have fallen.  Originally called "Sow and Piglets", they were renamed the Twelve Apostles after 3 of them fell.  Three more have fallen since, so I think they should come up with a new name for them.  

Another famous rock formation along this shoreline is London Bridge.  This is what it orginially looked like.  You could walk from the shore out to the edge of the rock formation.

The arch closest to shore collapsed unexpectedly in1990, and this is what it looks like now.

Fortunately, no one was killed when it collapsed, but there were two people who had just crossed over to the second arch when it happened and became stranded on the now island.  Fortunately, someone saw the collapse, and a helicopter was sent from Melbourne to rescue them.  Everyone wondered why the two covered their faces to prevent the cameras from seeing their identity.  As it happens, it was a well-known Melbourne businessman and his mistress who were "caught in the act", so to speak.

Often, people on these tours see kangaroos and koalas on their all-day journey.  I did see one kangaroo, but no koalas.  Since they are both noctural animals, it's not a real surprise, but you'd think, since kangaroos outnumber people here, that we might have sighted more than one.

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