We arrive Melbourne on 15 October 2019 at 8:30am having completely missed the 14th. It is springtime here with temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s and misty rain. Our Airbnb is atypical for us as we have booked accommodations in a high-rise on the 23rd floor with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the magnificent cityscape. The unit is lovely and centrally located but has the feel of living in Asia as we are on the fringes of Chinatown with mostly young Chinese residents.
We begin our exploration of Melbourne like we do with every new city by taking a run of four miles mostly along the Yarra River.
We arrive home from our first run just in time to greet our first houseguests, Katiti Kironde and Bill Winder, showing up exactly 24 hours after our arrival. It’s nice to have friends that will travel half way around the world to spend time with us.
After showering and freshening up Katiti and Bill were ready for a walkabout. We headed west to Flagstaff Gardens and Docklands.
For Bill and Katiti’s first full day in Melbourne we booked a three hour private walking and driving tour of the city. Our tour guide, Geoffrey, drove us to many neighborhoods within the city. We started off at the famous Queen Victoria market which is only a few short blocks from our home. We made several food purchases here and marveled at the selections available.
After the market we drove to the Carlton neighborhood, home of the Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building which is a World Heritage listed building and one of the worlds oldest remaining exhibition pavilions. It was built in 1879-80.
We next drove into the adjacent Fitzroy neighborhood which is a lively suburb with a bohemian reputation popular among students and young professionals. Street art covers the narrow back streets where small galleries sit alongside corner pubs and terrace houses. We made a brief stop at Lune a French bakery that is known for its buttery croissants made on the premises. It was founded by Kate Reid in 2012, she is an ex Formula 1 Aerodynamicist.
Our last stop of the tour was in the CBD (Central Business District) near where we live.
For our second city run, we head to the river again passing by National Gallery Victoria to the Kings Domain which is 89 acres of parkland with an outdoor performance venue and the Shrine of Remembrance which is an enormous WWI memorial and museum. Entrance to National Gallery of Victoria is pictured below with a video of their wall of water.
After the Kings Domain we ran to the tan track which is a 3.8K circuit around the Botanical Garden. The name tan refers to the tan bark surfacing of what was originally an equestrian track established in 1901. It is now a fun and fitness track and has been resurfaced with a mixture of rock and gravel so that it retains its tan coloring.
After our run we were treated by Katiti and Bill to a traditional Melbourne barbie which they booked on Airbnb experiences. Our host Aaron was from Adelaide. His parents emigrated to Australia on a boat from Viet Nam in the 1980’s. We met up with Aaron at Batman Park which was known for its bat population in the trees. Fortunately we were not aware of that at the time but learned of it later from our friend Adam Caper. Aaron lit up the electric grill, which are provided free of charge at many parks throughout the city, and cooked us juicy hamburgers, sausages and kangaroo kebobs which he served with sautéed onions and a mixed green salad. Desert was Lamington which is a favorite sweet for Aussies featuring a fluffy sponge cake that is dipped in melted chocolate before being covered in desiccated coconut on all sides. This was a unique and traditional experience and we were pleased to learn that we were one of Aarons first few guests on his entrepreneurial experience.
On Saturday we attended a matinee at South Bank theatre for the performance of a play titled Black is the New White. We really enjoyed this comedy which is about an aboriginal woman who introduces her white fiancé to her family. Jim appropriately booked these tickets for all of us prior to even knowing Bill and Katiti’s dates.
So ends our first five days in Australia, off to Tasmania very early tomorrow morning.