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I love Melbourne. As much as I love living in Gippsland, and loathe driving to Melbourne and negotiating the traffic to get to a hotel, once there I appreciate what a wonderful city it is. It may not have the beauty of Sydney's harbour, nor Perth's Swan River and the beaches, but it has its own strengths that define what  a great place it is to live. My comments are perhaps restricted to the city precinct and inner suburbs, as that is where I now visit, but even in my youth when living in Carlton, my comfort zone was always the city and inner (northern) suburbs. Now, I can only image living in the city - right in the CBD or maybe Docklands or Southbank. East Melbourne particularly appeals but living there is but a dream due to a paucity of affordable apartments. Maybe one day Wendy and I will live out our days in Melbourne, or mayb visit more often when that elusive apartment comes within reach. In the meantime, I enjoy what the city has to offer. On each visit there is always something new to find or experience, something that excites the senses be it visual or audial. I love the buskers, the sounds of the trams and the traffic, and the rush of people. I do not like the crowds but these can be avoided. I love looking up and seing an old building that my ignorance has led me to disregard in the six previous decades. I must thank Wendy for opening my eyes so often. Walking up Collins Street she will say, 'lets see what in here', and invariably there is a magnificent domed foyer, or an art-deco entrance.  Even some of the old narrow back lanes of Melbourne are coming alive with restaurants and bars. And what can I say about the restaurants - Melbourne is the centre of world cuisine. The range of styles and ethnic tastes is second to none. We never fail to enjoy ourselves at a new restaurant and rarely return to the same one - not because of any lack of quality but simply because there is so many to try. 
In this brief photographic portfolio of My Melbourne I have tried to include special images that appeal to me, both from a visual aspect and as a simple reminder of the pleasure that they have given. For a more traditional postcard view of Melbourne, go to the separate webpage of that name. The following photographs should be visually pleasing. Much more to do.
Click on some of them to enlarge.

Docklands - will we live there one day?

 
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THE CAFE SCENE
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If there is one major thing that Wendy, Sam and I enjoy in Melbourne is the restaurants and cafes. There are thousands of them, some ethnic restaurants gathered together in internationl areas such as Chinatown, and the Greek strip in Lonsdale Street. But these international flavours are not restricted to their international zones, nor are the zones excluive to the main theme. Of recent interest to us, as we stayed in a hotel nearby, is Hardware Lane, a narrow laneway between Elizabeth and Queen Street that has now gained an excellent reputation for a dozen restaurnts of all cuisines. Al fresco dining is popular, although all the restaurants have large indeer areas - after all, Melbourne's weather is not always kind to outdoor dining. One thing we don't especially enjoy is the hawking of the individual restaurant's wares by a spruker  outside the restaurant. We find this quite intimidating. On a recent viit to Hardware Lane, Sam played along with a percusionist - thats him in the blue shirt. Generally, when we stay in Melbourne we choose a different area to experience, and hence rarely visit the same restaurant twice. We do have out favourite coffee shops however, one being at Federation Square and the other, as shown above, on Little Collins Steet between Elizabeth and Swanston. The inner suburbs also are not short of excellent restaurant and cafes - here we are in a delightful area of Middle Park. 

 
STREET MUSIC
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Walk around the Melbourne CBD or St. Kilda on any weekend and you can be entertained all day: A jazz band at the closing of Hamer Hall; the Oxo Cubans in St. Kilda, another from Hamer Hall, and yet another. Sam joined the African percussion group on stage on the final day of Hamer Hall before closing for renovations. 

 
AROUND MELBOURNE
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A visit to Melbourne is alway associated with a theatre show or some special event; and we uually take the opportunity to visit a museum or some public attraction. From the left: Penquins at the Melbourne Aqurium; the Christmas Tree in the foyer of the Melbourne Casino; the ceiling within a hall of the National Gallery; and the famous Polly Woodside at Southbank. 

 
THE ILL-FATED WHEEL
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In 2009 the family visited Melbourne and whilst wandering around the new Docklands precinct looking for new shoe shops, we could not ignore the huge ferris wheel called the Southern Star, Melbourne's newest tourist attraction. Well, we are tourists  so to distract Wendy from her mission to check out every shoe shop in Melbourne, we took a ride. The wheel does not stop - you board whilst it is slowly moving, taking about thirty minutes to do a complete revolution. The totally enclosed gondolas are large enough for a dozen people, with central seats. The view of course is magnificent, looking south-east over the Melbourne CBD, south toward Port Phillip visible in the distance, and west - over the industrial suburbs. The latter is not the best view of Melbourne and I join others in suggesting that the siteing of 'the wheel' in the old docklands was not the best choice to take advanage of the views that are more esthetic looking south, say, over the botanic gardens and the Yarra. Perhaps it does not give the tourist an appropriate view of Melbourne at its best. But never mind, it was an interesting  journey - and an historic one as it turned out. At the end of the year, or perhaps it was early 2010, during a particularly hot period when temperatures reached 40 dC, 'the wheel' buckled. It was not something that the public could see and there was no accident involving injuring, but engineers inspected the wheel after the heat wave and declared it unsafe due to damage of some of the structure. The Southern Star was closed, and dismantling commenced, with a view, so we are told, of taking the damaged parts back to the manufacturers overseas for repairs. It will reopen - so we are told. I doubt it. All that remained in January 2011 were the four main structure legs. Its closure has, apparently affected the commerce of modern shops in the Docklands area although when we visited in 2011 it seems to be quite active, with restaiurants and entertainment. 

 
AROUND TOWN

We have it all in Melbournbe, the worlds most liveable city - or so they say! Itis expanding rapidly and may not remain that way, but Melbourne is a pleasure to visit. And indedd, I am now a tourist when I visit my home town. Here we have the Arts Centre spire - -oops!!! it went up in flames in 2011 during a fireworks celebration. The EEureka Tower, repudely the worlds tallest residential building. Not sure if that is anythiung to bragg about, but it is spectacular. It has a glassed-in platform that extends out from the building somewhere near the top. Thats not for me but son Sam loved it. And the famous shot-tower in the Central shopping complex. The developers were not allowed to demolish it, so they encased it in a glass dome - brilliant. The shot-tower made shotgun pellets but pouring molten lead from the top - the lead formed tiny spheres as they dropped and had solidified by the time they hit the bottom. 
 Another photo of the shot tower


 
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It was the 4th July, 2010, a date of some significance to Americans I believe but it allows me to remember the day that the excellent musical auditorium at Southbank, Hamer Hall, closed for a two year period for extensive renovations nd a complete remodelling of the eastern end of Southbank. On thid ay I was passing the halll, by chance, with Wendy and Sam, and noticed tht it was open to the public for the last time and closing that day. The public were permitted to wander the stage and back-stage. In the foyr, a jzz band was playing. It featured the daughter of Smacka Fitzgerald who was somewhat of an icon in Melbourne's jazz world. We listened for a while then went into the auditorium. Sam played bongos with an African band, and was also the last person to play the Streinway grand on stage. (See Sam's webpage for 2010.)  Melbourne has a great jazz scene but unfortunately we get to see little of it as it tends to exit in pubs and nightclubs and jazz venues which young Sam cannot, generally, enter. 

 
THE ARCADES

Melbourne is known for its superb shopping arcades, many built with the wealth of the goldgfiends of the mid-19th century. Even small lan3eways have been transformed into intimate restaurants and bistros and bars. You will probably find the best coffee in the world here.
 

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AND THEN THERE IS CHINATOWN - AND COLLINS STREET, OUR TRAMS, AND THE OLD MELBOURNE GOAL.
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MONO MELBOURNE
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I enjoy black and white photographs. I believe they can be more artist and more dramatic at times than colour. These photographs were takn in colour, as all are nowadays, and trnsformed to grey-scale by Paint Shop Pro. From left: a pedestrian bridge across the Yarra Ricer at the western end of Southbank, taken from a room at the Hiltion Hotel; and looking east along the Yarra, from the Hilton Hotel. 

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Peter Stone. Email peter@oceans,com.au
Created June 2012. 
Time of visit to Melbourne: This century.