Last days of Melbourne

As I said before I am loving my time in Melbourne. Keeping in with the theme I am keeping my visit casual and at times lazy. I need the downtime during travel but it always comes with guilt that I didn’t see and do all the things I could have during my stay.

I spend some time wandering around the neighborhood I am staying in.

My apartment building

I once again walk by the large church of St Patrick’s Cathedral.

I walk by the building below and admire the metal terraces. I would have loved to see the inside.

Tasma Terrace

The Old Treasury Building

I also visit the museum in The Old Treasury Building.

City then and now

I view an informative exhibit of aborigines during the gold rush.

I enjoyed the exbibit of Wayward women of Victoria. The exhibit features some women from the turn of the century 1900 who didn’t fit in the moral standards of the time: some are criminals, some are just trying to survive.

Koorie Heritage Trust

Later I walk over to the aboriginal museum Koorie Heritage Trust. It is a small museum but highlights some of the aboriginal history in Victoria.

Melbourne has a replica of the fearless girl statue!

The new Star Wars movie has just be released at the theaters. I decide to head to the nearby theater for a viewing. They sell craft cocktails at the theatre concession.

After the movie I wander around some more local neighborhoods. This time I wander through Fitzroy which is nearby my apartment. It has the same feel as my Collingwood but doesn’t contain as much new construction.

I see housing created out of what seems like shipping crates.

More fun row homes.

And more street art.

I stop at a couple more breweries as time allows.

The first brewery is Fixation Brewing Co. I sip my beer and watch the large dog at the table next to me continually tangle himself with the leash around the chairs.

Molly Rose Brewing is a small brewery where I sneak in one glass before closing.

At some point I end up in a grocery store where I educate myself about the difference between pasta sauce (tomato sauce) and tomato sauce (ketup).

I head back and pack up. The next day I am heading to Sydney. I am taking the skybus to the airport once more but I arrive early for my ride so I wander around the train station for a bit before I catch my flight.

Soon I am on my plane with a nice bottle of wine. See you in Sydney!

National Gallery of Victoria

Kaws at NGV International

Today I am visiting museums – specifically a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). There are two locations of NGV in Melbourne, The Ian Potter Centre (Australian art) and NGV International (extensive collection of international art). Note: The international location is temporarily closed as of time of this post.

I first stop at the The Ian Potter Centre since it is on the way for my walk to the NGV International. I catch the free exhibit by Lucy McRae, an Australian artist.

Nearby the The Ian Potter Centre
Nearby the The Ian Potter Centre

Lucy McRae: Body Architect

I watch a short film by the artist:

Institute of Isolation, 2016, is an observational documentary that contemplates whether isolation, or extreme experience, might be used to build human resilience in the context of space travel and off-planetary existence. McRae ponders: what happens to people when they are travelling for decades in a very, very small space? What will the body and mind need to endure and how will people prepare? – From NGV website

The artist’s main inspiration of her art is the question How will technology transform the body?

The museum exhibit contains videos and photographs that show her thoughts on body and technology.

I skip the other galleries at the Ian Potter NGV because there are special exhibits at the other museum that have timed and limited entry.

NGV International

Artwork by Kaws and Keith Haring

The theme today is NYC -> coincidently the city I recently moved away from. The artists featured in the premium exhibitions are from NYC.

The first exhibit I visit is KAWS: COMPANIONSHIP IN THE AGE OF LONELINESS.

I love his take on pop culture personalities.

Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines

The next special ticket exhibit is the Haring and Basquiat combination gallery. The museum highlights a number of works from both artists; both were prominent in the art world during the same period. I have seen pieces from both artists at museums around the world but this is the largest collection I have seen from both artists thus far.

Keith Haring

Jean-Michel Basquiat

After I finish my viewing of the NYC artists I move on to some other exhibits while time allows. Normally I am not interested in fashion but the fashion exhibit below pulls me in.

Comme des Garçons by Rei Kawakubo

I also watch another art film but this time by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat.

Dreamers

I see some rooms with other collections: Picasso and such. However I am especially drawn to the animal art in the NGV Salon. The salon holds interesting 19th century artwork. Unfortunately I have to discover these rooms quickly because the museum is closing. I hope to return someday to get a closer look at the artwork.

After the museum closes I wander around the nearby Arts Center where I order a cocktail and get a snack. Museum days wear me out so I head back to my part of town sooner than later.

I take a different tram back to Collingwood today. It drops me off near a brewery called Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall where I try a couple beers before settling in for the evening.

Melbourne Street Art

It is boxing day in Melbourne (what Aussies, Kiwis and British call the day after Christmas).

My Christmas Day yesterday was I spent mostly inside eating and watching movies. I like to celebrate my holidays the lazy way.

Today I decide to go for a tourist walk around town.

I start at the nearby park Fitzroy Gardens. I am obsessed with the beautiful purple flower trees – Jacaranda I believe.

Earlier I downloaded tourist walking tours. I use the maps to wander around town.

Princess Theatre: Now contains Harry Potter

Tattersalls Lane

It is the day after Christmas and shoppers are lined up around the block waiting for who knows what.

More artwork

Presgrave Place

Centre Place

Stopped for lunch at a cafe down a funky street (Eliana Lulu).

I could not resist these doughnuts. I picked up one for later.

Hosier Lane

AC/DC Lane

AC/DC Lane, named after the famous rock group, is one of the most popular tourist spots in town. Here you find street art mostly music related.

Strachan Lane

Finally I finish out the day at Strachan Lane where there is some more rock art as well as Alice in Wonderland themed art. I am heading back toward my apartment so I decide it is a good time to call it the day. Besides I have a very good looking doughnut just waiting to be eaten.

Another great day completed in Melbourne!

Melbourne Australia

View from my rental apartment

I have arrived in Melbourne Australia – a city I am really digging. The temperature is perfect and the vibe reminds me of a low-rise New York city. I think I could possibly live here some day.

I arrive at the airport and take the skybus to Southern Cross station. I take an uber from there to my airbnb.

Melbourne Airbnb

I plan to stay in Melbourne for a full week including Christmas so I wanted to get a hometown feel instead of staying in a hotel or hostel. I chose the funky neighborhood of Collingwood to stay in an Airbnb studio. The owner is an Australian artist now based out of the UK. Her specialty is imaginative collages. You can find her artwork at Collagism. Her artwork and interesting sense of style can be seen in the apartment.

I love having a “home” for the week. There are some poor neglected plants on the porch that I nurse the week I am there, giving me some sort of normalcy during my travels. Collingwood is a funky but sleepy neighborhood, I think it probably got hit by a recession in the area since it seems many places have closed nearby. There are still enough places in the neighborhood to keep me satisfied and it is nice to not stay in the middle of a tourist district. Collingwood is in walking distance to some town highlights and once I figure out the trams it isn’t hard to get to where all the important sites are.

I head out to meet with another travel buddy whom I met on my Jordan tour in September. Melbourne is her hometown and she has some spare time before the holidays to meet with me tonight. We met at a lively café on the river for a snack and and a cocktail. She has to work tomorrow so we don’t stay out late.

Once again I am very thankful once again I get to meet so many great people during my travels.

After walking my friend to the train I wander around town looking at holiday lights. The Christmas holiday is in two days so Melbourne is full of color.

When it is time to head back I couldn’t quite figure out tram in the evening so just took UBER back. Luckily by the next day I had it figured out.

I am loving the nighttime view from my apartment.

Christmas Eve

Today is Christmas Eve. If the holiday is anything like in the USA then most things will be shutdown tomorrow. I head to the grocery store to stock up on goodies for tomorrow – including Meredith Dairy Goat Feta which I am addicted to.

Coincidently a friend from high school is in Melbourne at the same time as I. She is stopping in Melbourne to meet some of her clients before she heads off to her honeymoon in Fiji. I meet up with her and her lovely husband for a day of fun. (Interestingly enough we both lived in NYC at the same time for about 4 years and for some reason we were never able to meet up. It took traveling to Australia to see each other again!)

We meet up for brunch. So many times I dine alone and most of the time I don’t mind being on my own but it is very nice to have company, especially around the holidays.

Then we head off to our river cruise down the Yarra River.

I almost wear this to my river cruise today. My apartment has fun props.
Cruise boat

We stand up in the back. There is clearance for us to stand under most bridges but at least one makes us duck down.

Our cruise drops us off at Williamstown where we explore a little bit. Williamstown is Melbourne’s first port settlement. There are stores and cafes. We settle on a outdoor seating area and chat for a while. When it is the scheduled time for our return trip we head back to the port to catch the return journey.

The fun isn’t over when we return to Melbourne city. We decide to try it out at a roof top bar for a little while. We don’t stay too long though. Each one of us seems to want to get back to our lodging for the rest of the evening (something typical for us 40 somethings). Besides it has been a long day!

This is the kind of joint we are at
Rooftop cocktails

Finally figured out the tram system and I wander back to my apartment just in time for this glorious sunset.

Tomorrow is Christmas and I have no plans. I plan to eat and relax all day long….

Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock, Woodend, Victoria, Australia

Today I fly into Melbourne to start my journey of Victoria and South Australia. I am arriving in the early evening so I decide to book a hotel near the airport for the evening and pick up my rental car in the morning. When I walk outside to meet my hotel shuttle I am very happy to be greeted with temperatures of 680F (200C). I am in heaven. I spent the last couple months sweating non-stop but now I am finally in my favorite temperatures. I love Melbourne already and I haven’t even left the airport.

I have a dinner in the hotel restaurant and then leave early in the morning to pick up my rental car. A new adventure is starting, I have never driven on left side of the road nor the right side of the car. I am nervous but I am up for the challenge.

I take a little while to make sure I am familiar with the car and all the gadgets. I have also sprung for the GPS like I did in Spain; I make sure to have all my coordinates inputted.

Soon I am off on the road. I am nervous but I drive slower and stay in the slow lanes. Traffic gets thick in some places but luckily it is not too bad. My drive is less than an hour. I can do it!

It is almost mid day when I arrive at Hanging Rock, my main destination for the day. I could have visited this site on my way to other travels but I don’t like to rush my travel – especially when I am traveling alone. I plan to visit Hanging Rock and then stay the night in the area.

Why do I choose to visit Hanging Rock do you ask? Besides it being a very interesting looking rock structure, I also have a family connection of sorts. I recently have lost my aunt who died a horrible slow death at a relatively young age. In the 1970’s she went to see the mystery movie Picnic at Hanging Rock in the movie theater with my grandmother and they both loved the film. My aunt had communicated that to me in the past so I watched the movie on my own and was drawn to the film as well. Viewing the movie made me want to visit the sight where it is filmed. I spent some time helping my aunt convalesce in Las Vegas in the year prior to this trip. Unfortunately she died a couple months later but during my time with her the new series Picnic at Hanging Rock came out. I was able to watch the series with my aunt not knowing that is the last time I would get to spend any kind of quality time with her before she died. So you can say I have an emotional connection to this place and the visit is a pilgrimage of sort.

I walk up a concrete path where the view of the rocks gets clearer the closer I get. In the movie the girls walk through brush and cross streams. I have a nice paved path that takes me straight there.

Once at the top I enjoy the views below.

I notices the crevices between the rocks so I do some exploring.

I also do a slight bit of rock scrambling but really it is just me sliding down some rocks on my butt.

I come to an area where I am alone and only hear bees buzzing, it is very ominous. This is where I feel like I could have been part of a movie scene.

bees buzzing

More crevices….

Some rocks to sit on to enjoy the view. I see farms and maybe alpacas or llamas in the distance.

I start my descent back down where I actually see hanging rocks. I chose the smooth flat uphill path on the way up and taking the stairs on the way down. I am glad I chose that method.

There is a short trail around the rock formation. I take the trail around the loop. I seem to be the only one taking the trail. I hear nature and get other views of the hanging rock.

As I drive away I stop to take photos from another angle.

It is a nice visit. I wish I would have brought a picnic and bottle of wine to truly live out a picnic at hanging rock. If you haven’t see the original movie it is an interesting watch.

I check into my guesthouse twenty minutes away at Lancefield Guest House. I do a self check-in and don’t see another soul there until the next morning. I feel like I have the whole place to myself for the night.

At the guesthouse I see a list of the activities in the area and I spot a couple wineries close by that are still open for the day. I rush out to visit some cellar doors (cellar doors are what tasting rooms are called in Australia).

Here is my little note about what I know about Australian wines: In my opinion the majority wines we import in the United States from Australia are the most horrible wines ever. I am coming into my wine journey of Australia with low expectations.

WOW am I surprised!

I start my tasting at Cleveland Winery.

I am pleasantly surprised with my tastings. The first two are sparkling wines which I generally avoid due to headaches but they are quite good. I even like the chardonnay I sample and it is hard for me to find a chardonnay I like. Even though I didn’t think I am a fan of the style, the shiraz wine is pleasant to me. I pick up a bottle or two of wine to take back with me. I wouldn’t normally buy bottles while I am traveling but I will be traveling by car for about a week so no worries about carrying bottles on my back.

The hostess at Cleveland recommends a couple more wineries in the area. I only have time (and alcohol tolerance) for one more so I visit Curly Flat.

It is a terrific recommendation. The wines are more expensive but pretty good. I also pick up two bottles here – one I mean to take to my cousin when I visit him in Sydney. Sadly (for him) the wine never made it to Sydney. I couldn’t resist opening it a week later.

I head back to my hotel and walk to get dinner.

my hotel in the distance

I walk to Lancefield Hotel to get dinner. They are all booked for the night at their nicer sit down dining (reservations only) but I am able to order food at the bar. I order the not so healthy prawn and chicken in garlic cream sauce. It seems like it might be the Australian version of comfort food. I sleep well after that meal.

Garlic Prawn Chicken

I am staying in a sleepy area so there is not much to do after dinner. I head back to my room and get some rest.

Tomorrow I start my road trip!