Melbourne beckoned me. Well that's what I'm claiming. It certainly didn't say go away, at least not in a language that I understood. Any restraining order applications to the contrary are a pack of damned lies. The CBD circuit of the city is served by a free historic tram which rattles around while a voice over points out all of the sights you could have seen if you had been looking a few minutes ago when the tram went past them. I hopped on this tram and set out to discover Melbourne.
I got as far as Flinders Street Station where trains came and went cunningly concealed by the same sort of renovation works which have managed to make Sydney's major train station more of an obstacle course than a transport hub. Still there I was in the heart of Melbourne; handsome sandstone buildings loomed up at every turn, trams frolicked in the Autumn sun and lane way after lane way was crammed with people eating things. A sign directed me towards Federation Square, rather foolishly I followed it.
Federation Square is a modern open space surrounded by, well to be honest I'm not sure what it was surrounded by because most of it appeared to be closed. "Square" is also an interesting term for a space that appears to have be designed by a spider with a cocaine addiction. It was indeed open and some people were taking advantage of the openness to hang around. There didn't seem to be much else to do.
Out of sheer perversity I wandered around Federation Square until I reached the river. I assume I left the square at some point. Having reached the river and seeing no point in returning I strolled along the bank with the water (I assume it was water) at my side my calm interrupted only by the fact that most of Melbourne seemed to be jogging in the opposite direction. After a while I gave up, turned around and followed them at which point most of them disappeared.
Melbourne of course has galleries, museums, churches and handsome public buildings because these are the marks of a major city. Without them Melbourne would just be South Albury. I acknowledged them as necessary indicators of global citydom but didn't feel any particular obligation to pander to Melbourne's megalomaniacal delusions of relevance by visiting any of them. Instead I went to Carlton Gardens.
Carlton Gardens sits just outside the centre of the CBD and (according to Visit Melbourne website) are home to a variety of animals. Presumably the variety of animals that has learnt to live on garbage and thrown away food. Brush tail possums, ducks, tawny frogmouths and kookaburras are just some of the animals I didn't see as I wandered through. I did see plane trees. It is difficult to miss the plane trees because unlike the animals they don't move very fast.
The plane trees lined a path inhabited by people taking wedding photos amongst the plane trees while the weather got greyer and more ominous by the second. I glanced uneasily at the sky (to be fair the look it gave me wasn't any happier) and hurried on. After I had hurried for a moment I remembered that I wasn't really going anywhere so haste seemed irrelevant despite the weather. I slowed to a stroll and to that I attribute the fact that I didn't walk into the Exhibition Building when it leapt out from behind a plane tree.
The Exhibition Building was built in the 1880s to house an Exhibition. It is a perfect example of the sort of thing they were building in the 1880s. It is white, it is large, it has a dome and a fountain out the front to let you know this is a very impressive building indeed. They don't normally put a fountain out the front of a waste management facility. Having encountered the building and been duly impressed by its fountainyness I left and never went back.
Melbourne has officially been done.