A Bit of Culture

After the late return from Phillip Island we were moving a bit slowly the next day.  Maybe the negative ions from the rain just made us want to sleep in a bit.  When we finally crawled out of bed and hit the hotel breakfast buffet (it is a struggle of self-restraint not to try and sample everything), we emerged into intermittent showers that lasted through mid-afternoon.  Nevertheless, we braved the conditions and opted for a bit of culture.

Our first stop was the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), which had a number of free exhibits in addition to several fee-based.  We viewed an exhibit of Japanese and southeast Asia art, including calligraphy, garments with tie-dyed and stenciled designs, pottery, and more formal kimonos.  It was a good shelter from the rain, too.

Next, we hoofed it up to the newly refurbished State Library of Victoria (BTW, Melbourne is in the state of Victoria).  The Library is a grand building with a multiple reading rooms, old volumes, and a multi-story dome with different exhibits on each level.  The main reading room is modelled after the British Museum and the U.S. Library of Congress.

The State Library Reading Room

One of the more interesting exhibits was the Velvet, Iron, Ashes. Among some of the more memorable items were footage of the finish of the London-Melbourne air race of 1934 and the suit of armor, with 18 bullet marks, that the Aussie bushranger (outlaw), Ned Kelly, was wearing when he was captured in a shootout with police in 1880.  

The original Ironman. This weighs nearly 100 pounds. What did Ned in were leg wounds.

We just missed the Ashes Urn, which contains ashes of a cricket wicket and the inscription, “In Affectionate Remembrance of English Cricket which died at the Oval on 29th August, 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. R.I.P. N.B. —The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.”  This occurred after Australia defeated England in cricket in 1882 in England.

Our last day in Melbourne was another walking tour to the Victoria Market via Flagstaff Park.  Early in Melbourne’s existence Flagstaff Hill was used as a signal point to observe arrivals in the harbor and relay news via flags.  Today one can see where the harbor would be if not for all the buildings, but it is another nice Melbourne park.  We roamed through the market’s bread and cheese sections, picked up some souvenirs, and beat the afternoon rain back to the hotel.  All in all, we covered about 35 miles during our five-day Melbourne walkabout.

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