Arjen in Australia




We start our day trip to the great city of Melbourne in a suburb of Melbourne called Werrabee. There we take the train (MET) into the heart of Melbourne. The trip takes about 50 minutes and displays a nice scenery of the country surrounding east Melbourne. After about 40 minutes the skyline of Melbourne shows up with the impressive Rialto towers as its highest point. The train takes us right into the centre of Melbourne to Spencers street and eventually Flinders street where we get of the train. Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city. The first European settlers only arrived in 1835, but in the next 50 years it grew from a small village into a major city and it still remains the youngest city of its size in the world.

church.jpg (48059 bytes)Flinders street train station is the main station for suburban trains and it is built in 1899. The station is very impressive, it has towers and rows of clocks. Across the street is the Saint Paul’s Cathedral, it’s a very big and impressive gothic style cathedral in the midst of Melbourne. We walk to the back of the station and cross the Yarra River on the princess bridge. It takes us to the concert hall, the Victorian arts centre and the national gallery of Victoria, all on Saint Kilda road. It is weird being in such a large city but still have the feeling its peaceful. With the famous Melbourne trams on St. Kilda road and the Queen Victoria gardens in the background we took some time to enjoy a nice and well-deserved cold drink. We walked back to the Yarra River and went down the steps onto the south bank. This part of Melbourne is famous for its shops, bars and restaurants. A wide boulevard takes you past street performers, life music and bars. When you walk there you automatically slow down and feel nice and relaxed. The skyline over the city is awesome. The walk takes us to the Crown Casino.

The Crown casino used to be the biggest in the world and nowadays it is still the biggest casino in the Southern Hemisphere. We couldn’t resist playing on one of the slot machines. In Australia playing on slot machines is very popular and is referred to as playing "the pokies". It must have been our lucky day because on the first machine we played, we won about $100. After collecting that amount in Australian dollars, we tried our luck on the machine next to it, and guess what? It happened again. This was going to be a cheap (sorry I am still Dutch!) day!

After our visit to this huge casino we crossed the Yarra River again and walked to the Melbourne’s Aquarium. The aquarium was just opened a few weeks earlier and the entrance was packed with people. We still took our chances and stood in line. And it was worth the wait.
The aquarium starts out small with small tanks of fish and jellyfish, all accompanied with information on different subjects. The whole exhibition is basically to follow a trail that leads you past all the sights. On the top level they have a big round tank with all sorts of small fish inside and walking around it just gives you a feeling of tranquility.
But the best was yet to come. After walking the steps down to the lowest level we arrived in a small tunnel which was covered on the sides and top by a tank of water and fish. The tank contained all fish that can be found in the ocean area of Melbourne. It included the impressive sharks (up to 3 meters in length) and stingray’s. The tunnel led to a round room with the same tank all around the viewer. It gave the feeling of actually being under water and had a bench in the middle. We sat down and relaxed and just watched these great magnificent fish swim all around us. The exit of the room was in yet another tunnel where we found ourselves completely surrounded by the impressive sea live. It led us to a room with a big square window where staff were telling all sorts of information about the fish. We sat down and learned while enjoying a chocolate croissant.
The last part of the aquarium trail is a rollercoatser-ride under water. Its not a real rollercoaster but a simulated one but is was still great fun. After buying a few souvenirs in the shop we exited the aquarium and walked north to the rialto towers.

The Rialto  towers have a height of 253 meters, that’s still 200 meters shorter then the worlds current tallest building, the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur. We followed Collins Street and Little Collins Street and we found a little formula one shop. As an admirer of formula one I just had to take a peek and buy a few souvenirs. It was a week before the Melbourne’s Grand Prix.

melb.jpg (27014 bytes)We walked along the central business district and did some window-shopping. Then our trip ended where it all started at the impressive Flinders Street Train Station. The train ride back to Werrabee lasted longer then ever but maybe a little exhaustion had to do with that.

Also take a look at the report I wrote about a tiny old gold town called Walhalla.

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