Updated: Nov 13, 2018
5 Feb 2002 - Melbourne Day 1
It's been pissing down all last night, so we rise early (well, fairly early), eager to hit the road, move west and try and out run the rain. It's a fairly easy two hour drive from here to Melbourne. Coming in to the city we make the mistake to taking the Citylink freeway, which looks nice and quick with light traffic and lots of lanes. Turns out to be a toll road. No problem we say, pay when we get off, except that you have to purchase a pass in advance before you get on the road as there are no tool booths - it's all automated. Bit of a bummer if you've never been here before. Apparently, if you use the freeway without a pass they photograph your license plate and send you a $100 fine in the mail. But hey, we're just dumb tourists right, so not to worry!
We're booked into the Medina Apartments just outside Melbourne in an area known as South Yarra. This is just down the road from the place we stayed at last time we were here. This is the trendy part of town (of course), full of stylish clothes shops, bakeries, and very tempting looking restaurants.
Lynn writes...'All about money' Australian’s have effectively eliminated the nuisance of carrying around piles of small change. When you pay with cash, anything ending with less than three cents gets rounded down; three and four become five. Credit cards do reflect the actual price--which leads one to images of frantic accountants trying to balance the books.
While Lynn heads off to replenish our food supplies, I head into the city to do a bit of exploration. Melbourne has a quite wonderful transport system which not only includes a very comprehensive bus and rail network, but a great tram system, better than anywhere else I've seen. The trams are slower than the trains, but a lot more fun way to get around. Best of all, for about US$2.50 you can get a day pass that gives you unlimited travel on all these forms of transport.
Melbourne is a very well laid out city and the center is very compact - it's very easy to see many of the sights on foot. I wonder around, taking in the Melbourne State Library, the Exhibition Building, the very modern looking Melbourne Museum, and the State Parliament Building.
Phew! Time for a sit-down and a beer. I spy the Windsor Hotel just across the street from the State Parliament Building, the fanciest hotel in town and decide that a bit more sightseeing of the hotel bar would be appropriate.
Suitably refreshed, I wander back to the center of the city and get a tram back to South Yarra. Since it's now close to rush hour, the trip takes forever as the tram has do battle on the roads with every other commuter . Still, it's fun just sitting back and watching the world go by and casually observing all the commuters.
Dinner tonight is at the Melbourne Wine Bar, a trendy little place on St. Kilda street, a couple of miles from where we're staying. Lynn has read about this place in many a guide book and gastronomic review, and it's currently the in place to eat. Turns out the food is great, the wine list even better and the people watching opportunities are the best. A good time is had by one and all!
6 Feb 2002 - Melbourne Day 2
After a good fry up for breakfast, Lynn and I embark on a major day's walk-about in Melbourne. Having done the whirlwind tour yesterday, I act as the infinitely knowledgeable tour guide, much to Lynn's amusement.
We take in some more of the sights and then have a bit of a picnic lunch in the Carlton Gardens, next to the Exhibition Building. Very salubrious it was too.
In the afternoon we take off for the local grocery stores to stock up on some provisions and stumble on the biggest, most amazingly well stocked wine store I've ever seen - I feel like I've died and gone to heaven! Needless to say we pick up a few bare essentials.
We finish off the day with a walk round the Botanic Gardens. Australia, being a nation made up primarily of a lot of ex-pat Brits, is quite obsessed with all things botanical, gardens included. The Botanic Gardens are huge, covering many acres and are wonderfully well kept with hundred of varieties of tress, shrubs and flowers. The highlight of the walk however had to be when Lynn pointed out a tree full of 'birds' only to have me tell her that the birds were in fact huge fruit bats!
7 Feb 2002 - Melbourne Day 3
A big day for me today. After a late start, I drive down to Sorrento, which is about 50 miles south of Melbourne, out at the mouth of Port Philip Bay. Today I get to go swim with the Dolphins!
The drive down is beautiful, full of rolling hills and marvellous sandy beaches. I get there in time for an early lunch and then head out to the quay to meet the boat, the Polperro. We have a great time, and end up getting to swim not only with bottlenose dolphins, but also seals as well. These animals are very friendly and curious and get within 10 feet of us.
The crew of the Polperro are running quite an operation here. Rather than just use these sightseeing trips to make money, they're really using it as a means to an end to raise awareness for their cause. They have been actively campaigning to introduce legislation to limit the contact between the dolphins and mankind, so that they don't become habituated on us. And very successful they've been as well - there is now an AUS$100,000 fine for feeding a dolphin! Take a look at their web site for more information.
Dinner tonight is at Barolo, a wonderful Italian restaurant. Even though we get completely soaked walking the ¼ mile down there, we have a great time. Tomorrow we leave Melbourne to start making our way for Adelaide, which means another chapter in this journal.