February 2, 2004 (on Australian time)
After a relaxing day at sea we arrived in Melbourne. Melbourne is the second most populous city in Australia (after Sydney) with a population of approximately 5,000,000 people. In the 1840's and 1850's a gold rush drew many people to the area and fueled its initial growth as a city. And it is still growing, by about 2,000 people per week! And we can see why people want to move here, it is beautiful city with diverse cultures and lots of things to do.
Karen and I both really enjoyed Melbourne, and here are some of the reasons why, in no particular order.
Architecture - Melbourne is an eclectic mix of old and new architecture. Some of the row houses date back to the founding of the city, and they are protected to maintain the facade, but the owners have the option of remodeling the inside. There are also modern skyscrapers in the downtown area, one of which has the portrait of William Barak, an aboriginal artist and activist, on the face of the building. There are classic victorian churches and government buildings around the city. The Palais Theater is a well-known art deco building.
Row houses, Palais Theater, building with face
Greenery and Open Space - The city was designed with wide tree lined streets laid out in a grid pattern. Parks are located all throughout the city, and used by the residents for gatherings and recreation.
The most spectacular garden is the Royal Botanic Garden- a huge botanical garden with over 8,500 species of native and non-native plants. It is designed for people to walk through and interact with nature and the plants, and includes a stream, lake and a children's garden. We walked around for an hour and only saw a small portion.
Queensland Bottle Tree-the trunk shrinks and expands depending on how much water it absorbs; Noisy Miner birds; fern grotto
Sports! - Melbourne has over 20 professional sports teams and hosts several world-class sporting events every year. While we were there the city was setting up for the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, which runs through one of the largest parks (Albert Park) in the city. The sport culture is a common theme that seems to unite the city.
Melbourne recently hosted the Australian Open Tennis Tournament which drew more than 1,000,000 spectators.
Since the city hosted the Olympics in 1956, there are many large sports complexes that are still in use today.
Some of the most popular sports are Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Australian rules Football, and Basketball.
Also a favorite is horse racing, highlighted by annually hosting the Melbourne Cup.
There are many leading sporting venues which host local and international events like the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Park, and Etihad Stadium.
Other fun fact:
Melbourne has the world's oldest, functional wooden roller coaster. Does it remind you of something in San Diego?
Our day in Melbourne ended with a visit to the Queen Victoria Market. This is a HUGE market with meats, fish, fruits and vegetables, restaurants, crafts, clothing, and more. We tried a meat pie and did some shopping before heading back to the ship.
Sailing on to Tasmania