Sunday, April 15, 2018

Melbourne Snapshots - 2018

Yes! We were in Melbourne again.

We seem to visit Melbourne every three years or so, either for a weekend or a week, and usually around the time of the Comedy Festival.

Tony was in Melbourne a few times for business last year and extended his stay a couple of times to stay overnight and catch up with fellow sports and data enthusiasts who follow him on Twitter. This trip we caught up with a couple more. It's so strange meeting people you know and talk to online in real life.

This trip to Melbourne was a flying visit so I could attend the Yoga Australia Conference.

The conference started Friday afternoon and ended Sunday but, to ensure that there was little interruption to my classes, I decided to only attend Friday and Saturday. We also needed a bit of a break so I asked a friend to cover my Thursday evening class and we flew to Melbourne on an early-ish (for us) flight on Wednesday and returned on Sunday afternoon. In all, we had about 2½ days to ourselves.

University of Melbourne

Thursday was the only full day we had to ourselves and after a visit to the tourist information centre at Federation Square, we decided to visit the Parkville campus of the University of Melbourne.

A university campus isn't necessarily thought of as a tourist attraction but we'd visited Berkeley Campus when we lived in the States after I read about the campus in a guide book. (If you're interested, see University of California, Berkeley Campus snapshots.)

We started our walking tour with a visit to the Ian Potter Museum of Art. As you walk into the museum you see this magnificent stained-glass window, the Leckie Window.

The Leckie Window was designed by Napier Waller and presented to the University by John Leckie around 1935. It was installed in the old Wilson Hall and was the only artwork recovered when the hall burnt down in 1952.

Most of the rooms were closed in preparation for an upcoming exhibition, except for one that contained an exhibition on ancient and contemporary glass. Some of the artifacts came from ancient Rome and Eygpt.

Unfortunately, Tony's back was playing up so he headed back to the apartment to lay down and I continued exploring the campus alone.

I noticed there were numbered information boards outside some of the buildings and determined that they were part of a self-guided tour. The boards also included arrows pointing out the directions of the next points of interest with the Ian Potter Museum of Art being number one! I tried to use these boards to direct me through the University although I skipped a number of boards when my path was blocked by construction work or the next points of interest were inside a building.

One of the first places I stopped was System Garden. It was a beautiful spot, quiet and not too crowded, and I spent a while here indulging in my love of nature photography.

System Garden was originally set up for botany students by the Professor of Natural Science. The garden originally comprised a series of concentric garden beds organised around a central glass and brick conservatory, the tower of which remains today.

The gardens fell into disrepair in the early 20th Century but were resurrected in the 1970s. The present gardens are about a quarter the size of the original gardens. Plants in the garden are grouped in families/subclasses to display the similarities and differences between different members of the same family.

I also spent a bit of time at the Grainger Museum.

The Grainger Museum is an autobiographical museum, financed by the Australian composer, Percy Grainger. It contains artefacts illustrating his life and interests, and those of his family and friends.

Grainger was born in Melbourne in 1932, made his concert debut at the age of 12, and then departed to Europe to study piano and composition in Germany. He was famous as a concert pianist and composer throughout Europe, North America and Australia.

He was quite forward-thinking and eccentric.

  • With his mother, he designed a line of towel clothing and beadwork.
  • He was vegetarian, at a time when vegetarianism wasn't popular.
  • He was interested in typography and typesetting and his designs and instructions for the covers of his published music were displayed.
  • He developed a concept of free music based on eighth tones (the chromatic scale is based on semitones) and rhythmic freedom.
    He worked with the physicist, Burnett Cross, to create machines to produce and play his music and these are displayed in the museum.

Much of the collection come from Grainger himself. He envisioned the museum to be both a “Grainger Museum” and a “music museum”.

The South Lawn, a green open expanse amid a cluster of university buildings, was packed and buzzing with activity. And at the 'top' of the lawn were the Uni's most photographed buildings: the clock tower on the old Arts Building and the Old Quad.

The Old Arts Building was built between 1921 and 1924, and was the last stone building to be constructed on the university campus. It is a two-storey complex in the Tudor-Gothic style with the clock tower being five storeys.

The Old Arts Building is located next to the oldest building, the Old Quad. The Old Quad is currently being renovated to restore many of the original features and create new spaces.

I loved the arches: the series of sandstone arches that led out to the South Lawn and the brick arches along the other sides. In 1856 stonemasons working on the Old Quad, downed tools and joined other labourers to march to Parliament House to demand an 8-hour working day. Every Australian state has a Labour Day or Eight-Hour Day public holiday that commemorates those who fought for the reduction in hours. This protest is noted as one of the first protests where an organised group of workers were successful negotiating an 8-hour working day without loss of pay.

There is still much to see and the campus is also close to Lygon Street (which we haven't visited in decades) so I think we'll be back.

Other photos

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Street Art

Whenever I'm walking around the city I love walking down the "Little" streets like Little Bourke and Little Collins, and check the alleyways and lanes for street art.

On Wednesday afternoon while Tony met up with one of his Twitter friends I headed off to Southern Cross station to check our Myki (travel) cards and do some shopping. Close to the corner of Spencer and Little Bourke Streets I saw these murals: one of an Australian parrot covering the wall surrounding a garage door, and a couple laying on a bed on the side of the building above the garage.

On our last morning we sought out the lanes renowned for street art and Hosier Lane is probably the most well-known. I first visited Hosier Lane last time we were in Melbourne and I don't remember it being so busy. Mind you, it was the weekend of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival so there might've been more in the city than usual.

Off Hosier Lane is Rutledge Place and few people seemed to wander into it. And being a quieter spot artists seemed to take advantage of every available surface as a canvas: the walls, the pavements, the road, even the dumpsters.

There was a man guiding a small group through Hosier Lane and Rutledge Place, and I overheard him say that artworks are frequently painted over. Therefore, if an artist wanted their work to remain for some time, they'd select a higher spot. The duct pipe used for the painting of an eagle was a storey off the ground and extended to the roof of a three-storey building.

Nearby were two other lanes noted for street art, ACDC Lane and Duckboard Place, and on this Sunday morning they were devoid of crowds. Plenty of time for us to view, admire and photograph the artwork.

ACDC Lane is named in tribute to the Australian rock band AC/DC, and much of the art in this lane has a musical theme.

The week before we arrived a new permanent sculpture of Bon Scott, the primary lead singer of AC/DC, was unveiled.

ACDC Lanes runs into Duckboard Place. Duckboard Place is bordered by new and old buildings, and there was no art on the back of the newer building possibly because there were no large spaces of blank wall. In other lanes, there's painting on windows but as a number of restaurants faced the street, it seemed there was an implicit agreement not to paint the shop fronts.

Other photos

We've lots of photos of street art from this trip. Most of them are posted on Tony's Instagram account, @randomwithoutwarning.

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Wanderings around town

I woke up early on Thursday morning and, feeling restless, headed out for a walk along the Yarra towards South Wharf.

The Seafarers Bridge is named to reflect the maritime history of the South Wharf area and a connection to the nearby ‘Mission to Seafarers’ centre, an international organisation that cares for the welfare of seafarers of all nationalities and faiths.

When Melbourne hosted the Commonwealth Games in 2006, barges were set up along the Yarra River to hold 72 sculptures of fish and other sea creatures, each representing a nation that participated in the Games. After the Games, the sculptures were offered to local councils across Victoria.

The John Dory sculpture (representing New Zealand) was installed at South Wharf.

Thursday evening we met another of Tony's Twitter friends at Sukhothai Restaurant, our local Thai when we lived at Northcote.

Although Northcote has changed in the 17 years since we left, little has changed at Sukhothai. It is still owned by the same people, the decor is similar although subtly modernised, and many favourites are still on the menu. At one stage we thought we were going to have to revert to the ‘check-the-refrigerator’ wine list (there never used to be a wine list, we'd just check what was in the refrigerator) but it turned out that the wine we'd selected was unavailable.

And something else that hasn't changed - the food is still delicious!

The newest shopping centre in the CBD is the Emporium Melbourne. The last time we saw the site (which I thought was in 2015 but apparently it was 2012) it was a hole in the ground surrounded by the propped up facade.

The original building was formerly the Myer Lonsdale Street store. Now behind that historical facade is an eight-storey shopping and dining complex with the largest Australian designer collection in Australia.

Other photos

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Travelling high ...

Tony also posted the following photos on his Instagram account:

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And the yoga conference?

The theme of the conference was “The Modern World of Yoga” and I was particularly interested in sessions related to mental and emotional health.

Although I only attended 1½ days of the conference, I left with much to think about: confirmation on the way I teach, new ideas to try in classes, and a realisation that I need to slow down and look after myself. Key to helping others is to ensure that I'm healthy - physically, mentally and emotionally.

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