Tom and Claire are working in St Kilda, a Melbourne suberb. We found their flat, and then went in search of coffee. Tom directed us to Acland St and Monarchs Coffee/Cake Café, established in 1937. DE-licious!
We then caught a tram into the city. We’ve visited Brisbane and Sydney, and many have encouraged us to call on Melbourne and see the sites, where the old heritage buildings blend with the new. We really were full of admiration for the city earlier as we approached by car, and now by tram. I have been reading Savage Cows and Cabbage Leaves by Marie Alafaci, where Alafaci describes the detail of her aunt and uncle’s life when they emigrated to Melbourne from Italy, in 1927. The portrayal of survival (and it was just that, survival) is a bleak reminder of what went before in this prosperous country. Great read, and now I was about to see the sites I’d read about, decades on.
Claire, still the best tour guide EVER, whipped us round almost every tourist spot. First stop was Eureka Tower which boasts being the second tallest building in Australia and the observation deck on the 88th floor provides the most spectacular views of Melbourne, and all the important landmarks. It reminded us of being at the viewing station in the Empire State Building, but with the advantage of huge spaces with protective expanses of glass. Paul, Lottie and I dared to sample ‘The Edge’ , which is not for the faint hearted. It consists of a glass cube which projects 3 metres out from the building - with you in it - suspended almost 300 metres above the ground! We were encouraged to lie on the floor, to experience the feeling of falling through the air…..utterly thrilling!
The day was spent in scorching heat, but each place was spectacular; we were intrigued with the historical buildings such as Flinders Street Station, with it’s famous row of clocks above the main entrance, indicating the next train times. Melburnians use this as a popular meeting place…….‘I’ll meet you under the clocks’.
We saw some of the old and new: Parliament House, War Memorial, St Paul’s Cathedral, Federation Square, Royal Exhibition Building, Bowsed through the Laneways and Block Archades, experienced the Circular Tram (free!), and lastly we enjoyed a chilled drink in the Docklands.
Later we took another tram back to St Kilda…to the George Melbourne Wine room, where Tom is taking over as Head Chef for a few months. Claire B works there too, and we were once more greeted as long lost friends. Aimee and Archie came, and Claire B….and we enjoyed a delicious feast together. The weather by now was torrential rain….and as Claire drove us home we felt full, hot, tired and so happy to have visited Melbourne.