Sunday, February 26, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
While in Melbourne, we stayed in the Quest Gordon Place in Little Bourke St - at the top of China Town!
The complex itself was interesting; apparently it is a "National Trust listed property" and was built in 1884-5 as a new 'model' accommodation complex for single working-class men. It has a central atrium with a swimming pool, another covered atrium in which there are seats and an enormous palm tree. As the marketing says, it is a very quiet, restful location within easy walking distance of the heart of the city, and a stone's throw from the free tram route.
Little Bourke Street is Melbourne's Chinatown. We managed to find places we had visited in 2001:
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The exhibition was The Mad Square at the National Gallery of Victoria. It covered "... the chaotic world of German modernism’s avant-garde" from the "... era of chaos came an explosion of creativity – experimental, provocative and utterly compelling."
This period has long had a fascinatioon for us, and the chance to see first-hand some of the works produced during the period was too good to miss.
What we hadn't quite expected was how interesting the Gallery itself was - especially the entrance. The large plate glass curtain-wall has water running over it, and this is a constant fascination for young and old alike. The gallery is just a short walk across the Yarra River from the CBD, and has ample space around it, so water features are prominent.
2001 & 2003), and it continues to appeal, in large part because the physical fabric of the city is so different from "our" Wellington. Quite apart from the size (after all, Melbourne has about 3 million people; NZ has about 4.1 million in total!), it is spread out across a relatively flat site, and has managed to retain a large number of nineteenth-century stone buildings. And the wealth, originally derived from the gold-fields just an hour or two inland, means many of those buildings are ornately decorated and still redolent of the Victorian colonial urban gentry and ruling class.
When not using the tram, we walked quite a bit, and, as previously, I was very taken by many of the buildings. Coming as we do from a city prone to earthquakes, and dominated by lack of flat space and uncertain stability, being surrounded by open streets and stone buiildings is delightful - especially when many of those buildings date from the late nineteenth century. Not only do may of them have ornate decoration, but many are similarly ornate inside, including those whose provenance is a workers' friendly society!
The fountain has a walkway which juts into the centre of it, so I was able to stand 'inside' the fountain and then photograph the Princess Theatre through the cascading water.
And this is the Princess Theatre.
But it also had fresh fruit, vegetables and meat, as well as a deli section and food hall. So we were able to have brunch, wander the tat-stalls & buy a few things, and then stock up for a barbecue for that evening.
|An exhibition of rare books and manuscripts had some glorious displays and a backdrop which was imposing.|
|Ned Kelly is never very far away!|
Other things of note? it is not unusual to hear about the respective costs of living in Australia and NZ, and usually at NZ's expense! So I was somewhat taken aback by 2 elements of life in Melbourne. Firstly, the cost (& ease) of buying alcohol. Now it's not as though I wanted to buy a lot of alcohol, but we enjoy having a couple of small bottles of beer of an evening, so I set off to buy some. Only it isn't that easy! Firstly, the large 'supermarket' in Melbourne Central (Coles Central) was several floors down & took me a while to find. And then they don't sell alcohol as do supermarkets in NZ. My fault for making that assumption I guess! So then I had to find a bottle store. They aren't difficult to find, but they are small, 'hole in the wall' type of affairs with a very limited range of stock. In addition the prices they charge struck me as exorbitant: $Aus15 for a 6-pack of 330ml bottles, which is the equivalent of approx $NZ18.50. In New Zealand I would expect to pay $20 for 12 such bottles. Now it may be very different in the suburbs, with larger stores, etc. But I suspect not.
And then there are the prices of restaurant meals. Checking menus for prices of meals was misleading, because they have a face-value which is directly comparable to NZ. In other words, a main course might cost $Aus30, which would be what I might expect to pay in NZ; except that the Australian price is, in NZ$ terms, about $37. Quite a bit more than I would expect to pay in NZ.
So my experience suggests the cost of living is higher in Australia, at least in the city.