Day 173: Catching Up

Sat. 2nd February 2013

Dhipa, Dave, Kristina, Anthony and JanetIt is now almost three months since we finished our 45 day G Adventures trip across South America and we are looking forward to our reunion with Dhipa, Kristina and Anthony, who all live in Melbourne.

Dave, Janet and MyfFirstly as we are in and around Melbourne for a few weeks (and they speak our language!) there is time to catch up with a few mundane matters. Yesterday I had my first trip to the hairdressers in six months – a harrowing experience and I now have an unintentionally wavy fringe. I will be glad to see Sarah when I get home, she knows my hair. Secondly my day started early with a trip to the local physio to get my back looked at as it has been niggling me on and off for a while. I did feel much better for the treatment and have daily exercises to do before a second visit in 10 days time, prior to leaving Melbourne for Singapore. We have also booked to visit a travel clinic to discuss what malaria precautions to take in Indonesia and Africa as we will be there very soon, right up until coming home in July.

Half a shipChores done, we all headed out to explore the Immigration Museum to learn all about the history of the different nationalities and the rules and regulations they faced. We had heard of £10 Poms but were not aware how biased some of the policies had been at times towards the British and against other nationalities such as the Chinese and even other Europeans. Also how easy it was for the authorities to refuse entry for the most trivial of reasons or to fix the dictation test setting it in a language unknown to the candidate so that they will fail.

Life on board a shipThe first boat journeys took 80 days to travel from Britain to Australia and some cabins and living conditions have been recreated in a large ship shaped model. There was also an exhibition called Leaving Dublin comprising of photographs of people who have emigrated leaving Dublin for places all over the world in search of work/better prospects etc as recently as 2011. The photos are taken against a backdrop of places in Dublin with a brief note of their history.

Paparazzi dogs statue in Federation SquareAfter this thought provoking visit, we were ready to return to the sunshine and meet up for lunch. Our meeting place is Federation Square which is full of locals and tourists soaking up the sun and a chance to learn some swing dance moves, which we pass up!  It was good to chat, catch up on news and reminisce over the amazing experiences we had in South America and time flew by. Thank you so much Dhipa, Kristina and Anthony to spare the time to come into town and meet up with us.

Inside Royal ArcadeThis was followed by a stroll through the laneways of central Melbourne which are tucked away almost hidden off the main streets. They are great little arcades full of cafes and independent shops, including a fascinating little shop where they were making sweets in the shop window. The hidden gems of architecture is also interesting amongst the bigger modern buildings. Not to be missed is the old shot tower hidden away inside a new pyramid shaped building housing a shopping mall.

Shot tower inside a shopping mallIn the department store David Jones is a huge food hall which reminds us of Harrods or Fortnum and Mason. We stock up on delicacies of olive bread, ham, cheeses and olives for a picnic supper, all to be washed down with some good  Australian wine.

Government buildingWe continued our tour of central Melbourne by seeing the Parliament Building complete with fountain outside. Next door is the new Exhibition Hall where a wedding party were preparing for their photos and the guests all milled around in their smart outfits (we were quite out of place in our limited wardrobe selection even though we were in our newest T-shirts bought on our travels). There was a lovely old Packard waiting to drive them away, and later we saw the wedding party head out on a big “Gin palace” boat into the sunset – no expense spared for their wedding day.

Strange scultptureWe also loved more odd sculptures with this building which appeared to be buried in the pavement.  It was then a short tram trip back to Docklands.

After our supper, to add to our education on Immigration we watched the film Oranges and Sunshine about the boatloads of orphaned and unwanted children who were shipped to Australia from Britain right up until the 1970s. The film detailed the horrific treatment of young children in the hands of so called charities and a UK care worker who helped these now grown up children search for their mothers back in Britain. All based on a true story, very sobering and to think it was happening when we were children.

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