Travel diaries

A day in Melbourne: first steps in Australia

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First story of 22-day trip to Australia what we did in August 2017. Below we explain our first steps in Oceania and how we pass a day in Melbourne. If you want to know what to do, what to see and where to eat in Melbourne ... read on.

We arrived last night after 30 hours of flight. My suitcase had decided to stay a little longer in Paris, so I landed in the cold Melbourne with summer clothes. We made the claim and then we went to change some currency. The change at Melbourne airport is horrible: $ 0.98 for 1 euro, when the officer is at $ 1.47. We changed a little in case the flies, although all the payments we made until the next day we could make them by credit card.

We bought the ticket from Skybus ($ 19) and in thirty minutes we were in the Southern Cross Station, the main station of Melbourne. We booked them both nights in Melbourne Airbnb, in a studio that was 10 minutes walk from the station. The apartment was small, but cuckoo and very clean. A few minutes later our friends David and Mar came to look for us, with whom we would share a large part of the trip and who had reached Australia a few days before. They brought me warm clothes, because in August in Australia it is winter, and in Melbourne the temperature was quite low, although that year the winter was very warm.

We had dinner at the nearby Nando's, a chain that we loved for having eaten several times during our tours Botswana and Namibia. And at ten to sleep. Sleep for saying something, since the jet lag He made us spend part of the night awake.

The next day we got up at eight, we had coffee at 7Eleven ($ 1) and a lamington ($ 2). He lamington It is a typical Australian sweet consisting of two biscuits with jam in the middle and coated in chocolate and coconut. At half past nine there were already 6 people queuing to change money in the United Currecy Exchange Melbourne East located at 228 Flinders Street.

They changed our money ($ 1 -> € 0.67) and quickly went to the State Public Library, where we had reserved a place to do the Free Walking Tour. We had already done one free guided tour similar in Reykjavik, in which the guides make a living with the voluntary contributions made by the attendees.

At 10.30 promptly we started the tour, and in less than three hours they gave us a summary of the ancient and modern history of the city. In a very enjoyable way, too.

The guide started the visit talking about Batman. No, he was not referring to the bat man in comics and movies. Mr. Batman was an important character in the history of Melbourne. John Batman was a Tasmanian settler who in the 19th century crossed the strait and bought some land from the Kulin Aboriginal people, where the city of Melbourne was later founded. Well, in reality, rather than buy them the land, he cheated them badly, because he left only a lot of land (about 2400 km2) in exchange for blankets, scissors and other objects. Is the call Batman Treaty. Of course, it is not clear to what extent the aborigines knew what they were signing.

He Governor Bourke then he called the city with the last name of the British prime minister of his time, Lord Melbourne. However, citizens preferred another name: Batmania (It is necessary to put the accent in the second "a") Can you imagine that they would have got away with it? Sure, then Governor Bourke came and said that the Batman Treaty it was invalid, because in reality those lands belonged to the English crown and Batman should have negotiated with the crown first. That was how the British took Batman off and established the colony in 1835. All this was told to us by the guide as an introduction in front of the state library.

Later, many gold mines were discovered in the area. That gave rise to a Golden fever spectacular, stronger than the US Australia became the destination of people everywhere and the city of Melbourne began to develop. Among others, about 14,000 attended chinese. After World War II, there were many greek. From the 70s more and more foreigners came, for example Italians, as the laws to admit Europeans as Australian citizens were relaxed. Today, one in three inhabitants comes from outside Australia and walking along the street the vibrant mix of cultures is visible.

Curiously, the Aborigines australians they had to wait until 1967 to be included for the first time in the population census. That is, until that time they were not considered Australians (!). People who have lived in Australia for 10,000 years ... And all thanks to a man named Douglas Nichols. To know more, you can visit the Melbourne Museum located behind the Royal Exhibition Building (see below).

But, returning to the gold rush, in the first seven years more than 5000 tons of gold (!) Were extracted. So, in addition to attracting honest people, the fever also attracted a few outlaws. The most famous was Ned Kelly and his panda. Several young films have been made of this young bank robber, one of them starring Heath Ledger (yes, he was Australian). Kelly's crazy life was over when he was hanged at the age of 25 by order of the judge Sir Redmond Barry, of Irish origin. We learned this precisely by looking at the building where the gallows were, by passing in front of the Old Melbourne Gaol, an old prison that today is a museum.

Then the guide led us to a park that is something above, the Carlton Gardens, where the imposing stands Royal Exhibition Building. This large exhibition hall was completed in 1880, the same year Kelly was hanged, during an era of economic bonanza known as "the Marvellous Melbourne" and was built to house the Melbourne Universal Exhibition, which received a million visitors In just 6 months. Today there is only the great hall and, being the few remaining buildings of that era, it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1990. By the way, just behind it is the Melbourne Museum, although we visited this museum towards the end of the trip.

Then we go down the street Nicholson, looking at the houses of old railings on the left. According to the guide, this was the style of London houses from the time before the First World War. But if they can't see each other in London now, it's because they sent all those railings to melt to make bullets and weapons.

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