I'm still a couple of days of photos behind schedule from Berlin, but I've gotten bored of those temporarily, and thought it best to move straight on to our xmas holiday trip to Australia. We visited my family in Canberra for Christmas, but Canberra isn't a particularly pretty looking place and I hardly took out my camera save for some trips to the 'Arboretum' which may crop up later. On the way home we visited Melbourne, which was really interesting. I hadn't been there since I was about 12yrs old, so it was pretty much new to me. We have a friend living in Melbourne, who Abby visited last year, so she at least remembered where to go and navigated us around pretty well.
I really liked Melbourne as a city for walking around. It's all laid out in a convenient grid pattern, it's reasonably flat, there is really good public transport on the tram network, and best of all it is full of interesting old buildings and architecture mixed amongst the modern boring office towers. There is also a lot of street life and things going on in the city... maybe not everyone would appreciate the number of homeless people and buskers, and the odd pepper-spraying, but at least it isn't sterile and boring. I don't do a lot of classical 'street photography' of people, but I see Melbourne would be a pretty rich hunting ground for someone like my friend Sven...
The 2nd of January was my birthday, so we made a trip on the tram to the suburb of Fitzroy for breakfast, where the most interesting collection of shops, crumbly buildings, and most importantly, cafes, is to be found. One other thing Melbourne has going for it is a cafe culture similar to Auckland, where you can find pretty good coffee, even to my standards.. There are bad ones around as well, and in Auckland too, but at least the hit rate is miles higher than most places I travel to... looking at you, USA!
After breakfast, we wandered around Fitzroy looking at the buildings and attempting to visit the (closed) Centre for Contemporary Photography. Failing that, we went back into town to spend my birthday afternoon at the National Gallery of Victoria. There was an exhibition on of the photographer Edward Steichen which I particularly wanted to see, and also a large and quite good collection of European paintings and sculpture.
The coolest thing I saw in the first couple of days was the Latrobe Reading Room in the public library, which took a little bit of exploring to find, but i'm glad we did. I spent quite a while walking around in there, and up and down the stairs to the different levels taking photographs. I'm not convinced it was a very efficient use of space as a reading room, but at least it looked cool! And a good example of the old and interesting buildings scattered all over Melbourne. Parts of it remind me of New York, both the public library and the city centre as a whole, just on a smaller scale with an Australian accent.
I always enjoy wandering around new cities looking at stuff, and Melbourne was really good for this! Lots of variety, interesting buildings and people, and great transport. Some more photos from Melbourne to come next time, but that is plenty for one day.