I'm living the Slurpee lifestyle wherever I go ...
(Wojo) After a beautiful few days down in Tazzie it was time to return to big city life in Melbourne. I wasn't actually looking forward to being amongst 2.5 million people after the chill atmosphere of Tazzie but hey, I need to keep an open mind. In all we spent three days and I don't think my first impression was really all that far off the mark. We stayed in a neighborhood in the SW corner of the city called St. Kilda. The guidebook says that at one time the rich folks kept their summer houses here but I think that must have been way in the past. Today St. Kilda is a dirty, tough neighborhood that seems to get some street credit from the locals mainly due to pure seediness.
However, one great thing about Melbourne is that it's extremely cheap and easy to get around the city. Every time I'm in a city like this on the far side of the world and see a great, efficient form of mass transit I always let out a sigh in frustration that someday Seattle might actually get it together (on that day I believe Satan will be skating to the office, however).
Melbourne Botanical Gardens
The downtown area of Melbourne is extremely interesting and very well organized. You just need to show up and there's a ton going on. On the first day we hit the excellent Museum - which is one of the biggest natural history museums I've ever been too. It included a really good section devoted to Aboriginal life (hosted by actual Aboriginals). It also had its own internal rainforest and an Imax. The Imax was playing the movie 300 so of course we could not resist. I mainly wanted to see it because my old work chum Francois got really excited when it was about to come out before we left Seattle -- and he's all super-cool and French Canadian and shit. After the movie we did the rest of the museum and then headed back to grubby St. Kilda for some drinks and muggings (not us).
View (and a nice one too) from the top of the Veterans' Memorial
The next day everything was closed and our time at the St. Kilda guest house was just about up. I voted to return to downtown again so we hopped a tram for $2 and had a picnic at the Botanical Gardens. From that afternoon I can tell you two things: Melbourne (the affluent version anyway) is one hell of a good-looking place and also that there is some kind of crazy baby-boom in effect. No kidding -- some fool in the Aussie gov't decided that they needed to get their population up from 20MM now to 30MM in ten years time so they're telling all young couples that they're basically expected to have at least three kids. In fact for each kid you get $4,000. Totally irresponsible in my opinion but I'm sure no one cares.
Temple of Remembrance
One of the highlights for me in Melbourne was stopping at the Centre for Moving Image near Federation Square. It's a huge beautiful building right on the downtown square and I had no idea what it was about but we popped our heads inside. Immediately someone came up to us and asked us if we needed any help. They went on to tell us that this place is basically a huge, living museum devoted to everything related to film, video and video-games produced in Aussie. There were some super bad-ass exhibits -- we played video games on the big screen upstairs for about an hour (believe it our not the showcased game was "Kung Fu: Way of the Exploding Fist" which my friend Fajen and I would play for hours on end on his Commodore 64 when we were 12). The basement is full of short films and exhibits -- all definitely worth a stop.
After Melbourne we toyed with the idea of continuing on to Sydney but I just couldn't do it. After being in a city of 2.5MM for a few days there was no way I was up for a city of 5MM. So -- I'm a total metro wuss -- I'd never make it in China. So after all this fun it was back on a plane the next day to Brisbane to catch the train to Bundy again.
Federation Square downtown Melbourne
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