After going on the free walking tours, I still had a bit of time left in the day and some energy to spare, so I began my roaming almost immediately. As it was already mid-afternoon, I realized I wouldn’t quite have the time to venture to the outskirts and back, as I intended to do some night-time roaming in the CBD area as well. As a result, I ended up traveling to Docklands for a look around.
What’s so good about Docklands?
To be honest, not knowing Melbourne well enough, I would have to say “nothing really”. My trip to Docklands was more inspired by the fact that my first trip to Melbourne was to attend an interview in Docklands – and I wanted to go back just to see what it looked like. That first trip to Melbourne was so hurried that I had no idea where Docklands was in respect to the city, and I really had no idea I was next to a marina!
The first time I visited, I took a photo from the top floor of the shopping centre carpark, which gave a decent panorama. This time, the top level was closed, but the second-highest level still gave a similar view. The blue MAB building in front? That was where I had my interview!
Of course, things have changed over time, and Docklands is a thriving center for development (photo from phone camera). New highrises are going up literally everywhere, especially because of its proximity to the CBD and the fact it’s within the free tram zone.
One massive difference to the last time I visited (7th December 2012) was the Melbourne Star observation wheel, somewhat akin to the London Eye, wasn’t there. Little did I know, it had been constructed years earlier but taken down to due engineering issues, and occasional operational issues. Needless to say, I didn’t feel the need to take “flight” on the wheel, but it was a marvel to behold even at ground level.
I had read somewhere that Docklands was celebrated as a bit of a shopping area, and revisiting the shopping centre adjacent didn’t seem to have changed much in the time I had been away. It was an open plan, two level “arcade” style shopping centre. I had some lunch there at a fast food chain, and continued on.
It didn’t take much walking along Waterfront Way to arrive at the Melbourne City Marina. I was kind of expecting something major, with lots of boats … but things don’t seem to be quite as developed as I had assumed.
When I walked by a bench, I noticed a sign saying “You are within a
S area” and it took me a few seconds to think of what that meant.
No sitting? No spitting? No singing? No soliciting? Ah, no standing, as the wooden deck was technically a road!
It was fascinating to see these aquadonut “floating barbequeues”, although I guess the slight chill might have put prospective people off. That being said, I’ve never seen them before, and the thought of eating in a small round donut floating on the water seems odd.
The view from the walkway was captured in a large panorama (click for full size). The waterfront is surrounded by trendy looking buildings, likely fairly new, especially on the marina side. The area was quite quiet compared to what I’m accustomed to in Sydney.
Not being a particularly sporty type, I was quite surprised to find Etihad Stadium right next to the water and within the free tram zone. If I recall correctly, on a normal day, a 35 City Circle, 70 Docklands Waterfront City and 75 tram will get you here. Wouldn’t it be nice if our event locations in Sydney were free to get to?
I decided to give my Dad a call, while walking along the wharf. My eye was initially caught by the sculptures on the ground, and an Asian lady walking her very adorable malamute. Then I looked up, to see the various blue-green and purple toned glass and the setting sun just peeking out of the corner. One handed, I changed the lens and took the photo while on the phone – my Dad didn’t even notice!
Port Melbourne – Really?
The next day, when deciding where to go, I decided to venture a little further out, this time heading to Port Melbourne. Expecting to see a working shipping port of some sort, or possibly even a passenger terminal with ferry wharves … imagine my surprise when I was greeted by this at the end of the tram line:
I didn’t expect that. It seems Port Melbourne is very much a single boat affair. I looked at the list of departures to be surprised that there are only a handful a month, with the port very much quiet and mostly idle otherwise.
On the side, I spotted an old crane, probably still operational. It points to a time when Australia had a lot of engineering know-how and industry to deliver solutions.
Having felt kind of disappointed, I decided to head up the road a little to see what the beach was like. Surely, if there was a beach, there would be people and some action, right?
But that was not to be. It was large, but quiet. Maybe it’s just too cold.
In the distance, there was a long pier, but nothing to see but just empty sea. Looking around, I did get a good look at the Spirit of Tasmania II.
On the way back, I turned around to grab a picture of a welcome sign – showing a logo of past tourism campaigns, namely You’ll love every piece of Victoria.
Luna Park & St. Kilda Instead?
Seeing there wasn’t much to see, I decided to pay Luna Park a visit and headed towards St. Kilda. To my luck, I got my myki checked three times in a day because officers were targeting that particular line, but of course, I had nothing to fear apart from some minor inconvenience.
At the time I arrived, the park was not yet open, but rides were circulating for testing. I had no intention of going in, but I did want to capture the more scary face at the front. Compared to Sydney, it seems their face is a bit smaller, and the park isn’t that big at all.
Down there, I captured some more examples of how “new and old” are sort of coexisting. These two businesses are clearly built into a terrace-style house, and they retain their division and two-floor nature. Other fast food chains, especially in the city, live with such arrangements too having an upper dining area to compensate for the smaller footprint of each floor. Even supermarkets in the CBD are “slimmed down” metro versions of the full supermarkets. They are much more numerous than in Sydney though.
The University of Melbourne
Having achieved the above, I decided to keep venturing around, so I decided to head towards the University of Melbourne even though it was a weekend, in the hopes of a hassle free self-guided tour around the campus, just to see what their campus is like. I’ve always been the curious sort, so I felt it was a good idea.
On the way, I stopped off in the CBD to grab something for a future experiment, and on the way, I came across this very colourful row of payphones that caused me to stop and take a photo.
Sadly, just two nights later, someone probably got a little distracted … and this very blurry photo from the back shows the casualties.
Riding the tram to its terminating stop at the University of Melbourne, I hopped off, took a look around and entered the main campus in the most obvious way. On the way, I passed by a building which served as the postal centre for the uni. As I needed a postal satchel, I decided to try my luck, but of course, it was closed. They had a vending machine – the first example of this I had ever seen, but it was out of service – just my luck!
A cursory look around at the map and at the buildings really seemed to point to the Old Quadrangle Building as the main photography candidate. To get to it, I had to walk through this relatively inspiring old archway.
Once inside, I could see just how small their quadrangle was in terms of grass area. It’s no competition with Sydney Uni or UNSW.
A redeeming factor was how well the lawn was kept and the nice trees. The ceilings of the walkways were also very visually appealing, and the stone floor really completes the look. Walking out of the quadrangle, I am naturally drawn to the clock tower in the distance.
Passing it, I came across this device. As it turns out, it’s a sundial. It seems unis seem to have some attraction to sundials, as UNSW has one too.
I continued wandering around, being spotted by a few security guards along the way who didn’t give me any hassle. I reached Professors’ Walk, where the botany building was outstanding in its natural look. Down that walkway, there was a new building under construction as well.
I decided to try and make it down to a large grassy area at the end of the walk, across the road. On the way, I came across this entrance to something. I naturally assumed it was a tunnel entrance for a shortcut or something similar.
I walked in, and imagine my surprise when I saw this:
Most beautifully odd carpark, ever? Maybe. Continuing along, I reached the grassy area I had intended to visit. Rather sadly, I also found this leaflet posted on a wall near the university – it seems that students are taking things into their own hands, and there might be a bit of racial conflict. Rather disappointing to see it reached this level where notices were getting posted, but I suppose universities are areas where freedom of “speech” is practiced, and so you might expect a few people to come up with such things.
Right next to the sign was a council operated bike share station.
I really like cycling around, but I decided not to do it this time around. It is a good idea, but it might not be quite as easy as it seems –
The system has a $3 fee for 24 hour access with unlimited 30 minute trips, or $8 for weekly access with unlimited 30 minute trips with $50 refundable deposit and payment/ID by credit card. To stop monopolization of the bicycles, they require you to ride from one station to another station and dock the bicycle within 30 minutes, otherwise pay additional fees of $2 for up to 60 minutes, $7 for up to 90 minutes and $10 for every half hour thereafter. Long journeys might not be possible in an uninterrupted manner without incurring fees, so it’s wise to break them up into station-to-station runs of about 30 minutes. After docking the bike, you need to wait five minutes before you can claim another to continue your journey. If you come across a full station, you can claim an extra 15 minutes free to dock at another nearby station with spaces. It’s definitely not as convenient as I would have liked, but its price is very reasonable as compared with private rental which can easily cost close to the cost of purchasing a bike in a matter of a week.
Of course, because helmets are mandatory, you need to purchase one from participating stores. It’s good that they have a good list of stores on the side, and they are only $5, making them very affordable. I found it particularly inspired that the RACV sponsors the bikes, especially given the fact that such motoring organizations are often thought of as “for the cars” rather than for all “road users”. That being said, at least around Sydney, road rage incidents and frustrations with cyclists seem to be on the rise with incidents reaching high profiles on the news despite new laws which aim to protect cyclists (by having a 1m gap) and also (in return) more heavily penalize cyclists for breaking road rules. Because we are not allowed to ride on the footpath (or risk receiving a fine), I really don’t feel that safe or comfortable riding around thanks to the government. I’m not too sure what it’s like in Victoria, but it seems to be quite similar.
On the way out, I saw the medical building, which was relatively featureless but was quite long and “block like”, with an imposing image, so I snapped a photo of it anyway.
After that, I trammed it back to the hotel for a rest, in preparation for another evening walkabout, which will be separately posted.
This is just the first part of my daytime walkabouts – a second post is forthcoming, followed by night-time walkabouts, as I don’t want the posts to get too cumbersome with too many photos. Keep an eye out for Part 5 of the series – coming soon.
P.S. I can’t believe it – in this time that I haven’t been appointed by the uni, I’ve been busier than ever with both technical and non-technical endeavours. If you thought the blog was chaotic, real life is even worse! But somehow, I feel more alive and productive than ever. Sorry to those guys who want more technical, and less holiday postings – there’ll be bits and pieces here and there.