Following on from the previous post... we had another couple of days in Melbourne after NYE and my birthday, and plenty of activities to occupy our time. One day trip we made which was particularly interesting was out to Brighton (Dendy St.) Beach in the south of the city suburbs to check out the famous colourfully painted beach huts. We actually went to St. Kilda first, thinking the huts were there, as images of the huts seem to always crop up in the tourist literature about St. Kilda! After some quick research figuring out our mistake during a cafe breakfast, and picking up some giant baked goods from one of the famous St. Kilda cake shops, we braved a local bus to get us a few more beaches down the road.
Arriving at the beach, we first sat down to test our bakery treats... unfortunately it seems they were baked for their impressive size rather than flavour, something only tempt the tourists perhaps. Or at least that was the case at the shop we visited. Not recommended, and in fact we finished neither our giant custard square nor our giant éclair. The cakes were disappointing, but at least the beach was not! It has one long row of 82 huts down a quite skinny beach, all painted in bright colours and some with interesting patterns or paintings of wildlife, kangaroos, space invaders, or Australian flags. The huts are now a valuable icon of Melbourne, and sell for up to AU$200k each, despite having no amenities or running water... literally a shed on the beach! The council even proposed to build 6 new ones in 2009 to raise $1 Million in council funds. To keep them locally owned, you may be a rate paying citizen of Brighton to buy a hut.
Other than our beach trip, we spent quite a lot of time just walking or tramming around the city looking at things. Of course I had to visit the main Melbourne Cathedral, in order to add to my collection of pipe organ photographs. This wasn't the biggest or most impressive compared to old European ones, but it was still nice, and makes for quite a cool photo with the horns poking out at the bottom I think.
I really enjoyed seeing the old Melbourne architecture spread around the CBD. We stumbled across some interesting buildings, such as the ANZ bank branch still in an original colonial building, with it's grand foyer and central teller island. If I lived in Melbourne, I would be sure to use that branch... almost makes it worth a special trip instead of doing it online! There were lots of other buildings like this we didn't get to go inside, including many old grand theatres. Auckland City has the Civic theatre I guess, and maybe the ferry building, but that's about it as far as interesting old architecture in town! Melbourne is certainly more interesting in that respect, and had the best collection of old architecture I've seen outside of Europe.
Some of the new architecture however left a bit to be desired. The many skyscrapers in the CBD were par for the course in any large city, but one thing I didn't appreciate was one of the 'shard' buildings on Federation Square, which was a direct ripoff of the Judisches Museum in Berlin, one of my favourite buildings! I had to stop and check on the internet to make sure it wasn't designed by the same person (Daniel Liebeskind) but it was not - my outrage was justified, they just made a poor copy rather than design their own building. Federation square as a whole I didn't find too bad, but supposedly the architects who designed it didn't get any more work for some years afterwards! That was hearsay, but fun to assume it is true so I'm not going to fact check.
That's about it for Melbourne. I'm afraid I didn't actually get many good photos given the rich environment, but I still had fun exploring around. My usual slow process of wandering around and following my nose for photos isn't really practical with other people as they quickly get annoyed of alternately backtracking, going in circles, and standing still for extended periods! But Melbourne is definitely somewhere I'd like to visit again.