Capital of Victoria
Before heading to Melbourne I took a drive up near Bendigo to volunteer at a yoga retreat. It was more a property with a mud brick hall where the owner ran classes on occasion away from her yoga studio in town. I found this through www.helpx.net. The idea is to volunteer your time, in my case 5 hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. I did plenty of odd fix it jobs such as fixing guttering, motor mechanics, planting and watering and feeding the pig and chooks. It was a good enough experience and was great to have somewhere warm I could lie on a couch and plan my trip through South Australia. I got all my maps out and worked out the distances and fuel requirements for each leg of the journey in advance.
After the week ended I headed off into Melbourne with no clear idea where to head first, so I jumped on Wikicamps and found the Shrine of Remembrance. This was another fine monument like in Sydney and Canberra dedicated to our men and women who have served our country. The interior was wonderfully decorated with intricate patterns, paintings and columns. Down below a small museum of various artefacts was on show including a gift shop. Heading up to the roof provided a 360 degree of the city.
From there I headed straight towards the beach stopping for lunch by a seaside café.
I found a hostel close by and that’s where I stayed my 2 nights. The first night in the hostel like in all previous times was awful. There were backpackers singing loudly outside my room till 11pm or so, then in the early hours 2 Englishmen who apparently booked to stay that night kept ringing the office doorbell and calling the phone for an hour before leaving. It seemed management had forgotten they were coming. So only 4 hours sleep for me that night at most.
I departed at 7:30am having booked underground parking online for the Melbourne Museum. I had stood at the entrance once before in January 2009 but didn’t get to go in due to time and money constraints.. so was determined to see this time what it had on offer. Adult entry was $12, and in I walked towards the giant dinosaur skeletons. There were several sections within the museum including geology, plenty of stuffed animals and insects, aboriginal displays, Phar Lap, WW1 displays. After 2 hours I had completed the whole tour.. though I began increasing my speed due to information overload. There’s too much to read and learn and I’d had enough for the day.
From the museum I walked off towards the city centre eventually making my way to the National Gallery of Victoria. There are 2 Galleries I visited, both free entry. Plenty of beautiful artwork and ancient Chinese, Egyptian and other cultures statues, vases etc. to see.
As I’ve spent so much of my travelling time over the last 4 months in nature, preferring to explore national parks than towns, when I hit the big cities again I feel like such an outsider. I can see with clearer eyes and mind the insanity of our society. The shear materialism, endless advertising, the overstimulation of the senses, the stressed grimacing faces sipping on their coffee, staring at the ground or into their phones afraid to make eye contact with anyone. We are no different from herds of cattle, being corralled along the sidewalks or onto trams. The modern day zombies.. Looking around it seemed I was one of the few people smiling…
After 2 days I had enough of the city life and felt the need to hit the road. I’m sure Melbourne has much more to offer than the museum and art galleries, but I’m not much of a shopper, nor do I seek souvenirs. Food and entertainment although enjoyable is expensive and mostly wasted on my simple tastes. Everything I need I carry in my car.. and there is always the need to keep the weight down, so I buy little else along the way. After a year of travelling I don’t know how I’ll ever reintegrate into modern society!