Over a well-appointed buffet breakfast at the hotel we discussed the day’s itinerary. We walked over to the City Circle pickup point, but it was not due for 26 minutes. It was about 65 degrees, we had our walking shoes on, and so we set out for the Fitzroy Gardens and Captain Cook’s cottage. Due to street and sidewalk construction, we meandered along a “laneway” (essentially a small sidestreet and one of several that we have found ) filled with tables and morning diners.
Fitzroy Gardens was set aside as a reserve in 1848. As an aside, guides and brochures are quite specific about discussing BWM and AWM, i.e., before and after white man, just under 200 years ago. This applies to development, history, conservation and land management, customs, etc., and there is a definite recognition that the aboriginal people received the short end of the deal.
Back to Fitzroy..it contains famous gardens, avenues of huge trees, floral displays, ornamental flora, sculptures, fountains, and historical buildings. The last of which was our main reason for the park visit: Captain Cook’s cottage, to use the term loosely. Originally built in Yorkshire, England, it was for the Captain’s parents, and he might have visited there at some point. But it was never “his.” In any event it was dismantled, brick by brick, transported to Melbourne, and reassembled as part of the Centenary celebration in 1934. The restoration is interesting and well-done along with a narrative on Captain Cook and his two and a half circumnavigation voyages (he was killed during the third one). Of his sixteen years of marriage, he was at sea (maybe in all respects) for 12.
Exiting the Gardens we walked over to the site of the 1956 Summer Olympics that is now a sporting complex with soccer stadium, the Rod Laver and Margaret Court tennis stadia (site of the Australian Tennis Open), and the crown jewel, the Melbourne Cricket Grounds (MCG). A guy wearing an FDNY tee shirt was waiting to cross and asked where were from (I guess we have not yet assumed the native persona yet). He welcomed us to Melbourne, told us some places to consider, and was on his way. Melbournians (?) have been very welcoming and are quite proud of their city.
We toured the cavernous MCG, capacity about 100,000, which has been the site of cricket matches since the 1850s. It hosts cricket matches, some “test” matches lasting days, in the “warm months” and Australian Football during the winter. After the tour, we watched part of a match between Australia and England along with about 200 others. We had a choice of seats in the lower left tier and received a quick cricket tutorial from one of the guides. We heard the words but did not understand the concept. Cricket is a subtle game with nuances somewhat like baseball but, incredibly, an even slower pace. And batters do not fidget with their gloves between bowls.
On our way back to the hotel on this beautiful Saturday, the Yarra and its banks were full of people enjoying the outdoors, sculling, eating, walking, biking, and boating. It made for a great day of activities and people watching.