26 May 2012

Well here I am, 88 storeys up looking out over Melbourne, eating a snickers bar that doesn’t quite taste right, and I finally feel like I’m on holiday.

Melbourne has lived up to it’s reputation as having equally nasty weather as Wellington (though fortunately it hasn’t been quite as bad as Wellington last Wednesday!) which has been a challenge for me without the wardrobe full of jackets, scarves and gloves that I would usually face these sorts of conditions with.  Ah well, only 2 more days and then I’m sure I’ll be complaining about the heat. 

It rained most of yesterday, but today it looks to be holding off, though the visibility from the Eureka Tower is fairly limited.  The tower is 92 storeys/300m high, and is the tallest public viewing platform in the Southern hemisphere.  Taller than the Sky Tower.  It’s also the tallest residential building in the world, and the video on the ground floor cheerfully explained that the top can sway up to 300m in each direction in high winds – you’d think that would lower the demand somewhat!  However today it’s totally calm, and I’m sitting in the café enjoying what I’m assured will be the last decent coffee I’ll have till I return, while writing this.

Diving back into the youth hostel scene after 10 years hasn’t been as hard as I’d thought it might be.  The beds were comfortable, and the showers hot.  So all in all I’m happy to spend 5 minutes unlocking and locking up my bags every time I want something from them to save myself $50 a night.  The kitchen facilities have also been quite good, even if I had to share the tiny kitchen with 10 people this morning, and spend my breakfast talking to a guy about local politics in Nelson.  Small world.  And even on holiday people like to bash the Council.  *sigh*

The flight over was uneventful, though the pilot and crew kept apologising for the turbulent flight, which by comparison with flying Nelson-Wellington was barely noticeable.  I was surprised to find that the leg room on this trans-Tasman flight was less than on domestic flights – you didn’t need glasses to watch the movie unfolding 3 inches from your nose.

The last time I was here was when I was about 10 or 12 and I barely remember anything except pelicans, wombats, kangaroos, and long straight roads in the red dirt.  So I figure that doesn’t really count, and I was curious to see what I would think of Melbourne as an adult.  Well firstly, I’m a little surprised how much it just feels like another NZ city.  All be it a giant, flat city, with decent public transport.  The first thing that really made it feel like Awwwstralya was a guy on the bus from the airport talking on his phone in what wins the prize for the most stereotypical Aussie accent. Ever.  I swear he used ‘mate’ at least twice in every sentence.  I haven’t heard anyone else speak like him since.  Maybe he was a plant for the tourists.

The only places I recognise so far are the ones in the brochures I used to photoshop for Hyder Consulting when I worked there.  Kinda nice to see them in the flesh.  From this viewing platform you can see everything.  Helpfully, they’ve rigged up viewing tubes to direct your eyes to famous landmarks, which is great for the non-locals.  I am curious about what appears to be a giant ferris wheel under construction. (My friend has since explained that it was built some years ago and cracked in the heat a few years ago during one of the bushfires here.  They've been attempting to rebuild it ever since.)

Yesterday I spent the afternoon keeping dry on the City Circle tram – the free one for tourists which travels around the CBD.  Quite crowded after the spacious 5 people per bus experience that is Nelson’s public transport.  It lead me to Lygon Street which has a goodly number of restaurants on one street all competing for your custom.  I tried a Singaporean one and had something with noodles, tofu and a boiled egg.  I will be curious to see how this compares to the food sold in Singapore.

The free tourist tram.

Right, the tower is getting crowded with people, so I think it’s time for me to be heading off to check out some of the landmarks I can see from here.


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