It’s day three here in Melbourne and sadly, we’re in the final stretch of our trip. For those of you who have been keeping up with the blog, you’re well aware of how much fun we’ve been having over the past few weeks, and for those of you who haven’t been…start catching up! We’ve only been in Melbourne for two and a half days but it’s been jammed full of fun (and of course educational) activities.
After a fun night of “group bonding” followed by a bit of a slow start this morning we were off on a walking tour of Melbourne . Luckily, no one got lost this morning (*cough* Linda). According to my FitBit we covered about six miles on the tour and while I can’t 100% confirm the accuracy, it definitely felt like it. If only I had Skechers like Jeb’s to prevent my feet from hurting. However, I can’t imagine a better way to get to know the city than walking through it. Our tour guide, Courtney, was extremely knowledgeable (at least he seemed like it, but who knows he could have made it all up) and taught us everything we need to know about Melbourne.
The tour started off at what used to be the Magistrate building and prison where Australia’s most famous criminal, Ned Kelly, was convicted of three counts of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. However, the building is now party of a University, RMIT. Courtney told us all about the story of Ned Kelly and his gang and while he may have been a criminal, he was seen as a hero to the Australian people because the majority of his crimes were committed against authorities, much like Robin Hood. It seems that Ned Kelly was an extremely interesting man, so if you’re interested in learning more about him check out the 2003 movie starring Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom.
The tour also took us past a lot of buildings that were built during the Marvelous Melbourne Era (1850-1880). In 1851 gold was discovered in several locations throughout Victoria (the state that Melbourne is in for those who don’t know) and the gold rush that ensued radically changed Melbourne. In just a year the town’s population doubled and this large influx of people fuelled an economic boom that lasted for the next forty years, thus creating the Marvelous Melbourne Era. Melbourne was the richest city in the world at this time and rapidly expanded with the building of places such as the Parliament House, the Royal Exhibition Building, and the Princess Theatre. But as they say, “All good things must come to an end” and in the early 1890s the city of Melbourne suffered a huge economic downturn where more than half of their banks collapsed, resulting in a massive depression. But, they recovered and while they may not be the richest or biggest city in the world anymore, they are constantly competing with Sydney to be the best city in Australia.
Art is a huge part of the culture here, especially street art. We walked down multiple laneways and alleys lined with buildings that are used as artists’ canvases. The artwork was incredible and made me feel like I have absolutely zero talent or artistic ability (probably because I don’t). It was definitely my favorite part of the tour. Not only because of the art, but also some of the best bars and restaurants are located in these alleys that I never would have thought to go down if Courtney hadn’t taken us down them.
As I said earlier, the tour covered over six miles of city and lasted about three hours. That being said, this was an extremely brief recap of everything we learned about on the tour. For those of you who are lucky enough to know me, I’ll be sure to fill in all of the missing details when I get home next week.
The tour finished up around 12:30 and we split up into smaller groups to go to lunch and explore the city. A group of us went back to the Royal Arcade, which was a place we had visited on our tour that is kind of like an upscale indoor strip mall filled with little shops restaurants and cafes. We ate at a place called Café Segovia and it was delicious. But unfortunately some of the girls ended up at an authentic Chinese restaurant that wasn't quite as delicious.
After a short tram ride back Maura and I decided to walk around the Queen Victoria Market for a couple of hours. The Victoria Market is kind of like a hybrid of a giant outdoor flea market and a giant farmer’s market. Mo and I both agreed that we could spend an entire day there if we had the time. By 3 o’clock pretty much everyone was down for the count. Everyone made their way back to the hostel to nap and get ready for another fun night out in the city. (I promise I’m learning a lot too Mom and Dad).
It's crazy to think we only have three days left on this excellent adventure.
The prison where Ned Kelly was held and later sentenced to death by hanging. It's now part of a University, RMIT
The Royal Exhibition building
The Princess Theatre, which is one of the buildings built during the Marvelous Melbourne Era
Street art of Ned Kelly
It's day 21 and I still have to take a minute sometimes when we're walking around these giant cities and remind myself that I'm actually in Australia right now. I think I can speak for everyone when I say how thankful I am to have had this opportunity and to have chaperones like Lisa and Linda who (mostly Lisa, Linda is just here to fold the laundry and boil the eggs) have planned all of these incredible things for us to do and see while we're here. I don't think there's another study abroad trip in the world that could even compare to the one we're on.
I'll wrap up my post by saying a HUGE thank you to my beyond amazing parents for sending me on this trip of a lifetime. I love you and can't wait to see you in four days!! Stay tuned to hear about all of the other fun (and educational) things we do over the last few days!
-Sydney Maxwell (not Sarah Wechter even though google seems to think I am)