Melbourne, from the other side of the river

The two times that I have been to Melbourne were spent close to the CBD in Bourke Street and I never ventured across the river to the home of Crown Casino and the Southbank precinct. This week I have been in Melbourne for a conference and have had the opportunity to spend time wandering around the Southbank precinct, admiring the sculptures, drooling over extravagant menus and almost getting run over by numerous cyclists who speed along the esplanade.

Wifi in the hotel is ridiculously expensive, almost $10 for one hour or $20 per day and their weekly rate is $99! Thank goodness for the fantastic wireless access at the conference. I’ve been able to keep up with my email and participate freely in the twitter frenzy that always seem to occur during a conference, not to mention facebook and writing the post.

Outside the convention centre is a timber sailing ship, it is quite amazing to look out and see this sort of history and it provides a dramatic contrast to the steel and glass architecture. Near my hotel is a huge glass high-rise building with golden bees perched on its walls, as I walk to and from the conference venue I pass funky, colourful sculptures and paintings similar in style to some of those I posted towards the end of last year. All of this provides a wonderful break from the talk of digital repositories, data management and research support that is the focus of the conference. 

The photos I’m sharing today are taking using the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone, it is one of my favourite photography apps even though it has been crashing a bit lately when using a particular ‘lens’. The other photos I’ll share another time.


Melbourne by iPhone

Artwork by RMIT students
Artwork by RMIT students

With only a couple of days in Melbourne and very little free time to explore I focused on a couple of activities that could be squeezed in around attending a conference and the associated functions. Being in Melbourne makes my heart happy, here I can experience the true four seasons and make good use of my black coats, the quality and variety of wonderful places to eat makes dining out an experience and the shopping offers up products quite different to what is available on the coast. This was only my second visit to Melbourne, and I was travelling with two food focused colleagues so you can pretty much guess that we ate well when not provided with meals at the conference, lunching at Guy Grossi’s Grossi Florentino Cellar Bar and dining at the French restaurant Bistro Vue one evening.

The conference provided us with the opportunity to explore the lane ways of Melbourne though a guided walking tour of the city’s street art, the guide from Melbourne Walks was extremely knowledgeable and I would happily sign up for another walking tour. The conference dinner was held at Zinc in Federation Square, a finger food affair with plenty of alcohol flowing and the ambience created by RMIT’s (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) talented art students. When not at conference sessions and events I was making the most of my time to visit Queen Victoria Markets where the taste testing and purchasing of Koko Black chocolates was conducted, these tiny little chocolates in the form of champagne truffles, salted caramel and Raspberry Ganache were absolutely delicious, one small chocolate enough to satisfy any cravings but to ensure that later cravings were catered for, I bought half a dozen different flavours. The nearby Christmas shop is a must for visitors at this time of year, elves of all shapes and sizes plus the shop in set up so that each room has a particular colour and/or theme, for a white Christmas the room filled with silver and white decorations is perfect and the traditional red, green and gold room is filled to the brim with delightful ornaments and nativity scenes.

Architecture in Melbourne is quite different to the coast, here buildings are knocked down without alot of thought for their heritage and iconic value because our council loves the look of a skyline filled with highrise buildings towering over the beach and if a house stands still long enough, eventually it will be rendered with concrete and made to look like so many other homes – apologies for the rant, I’ll stop now. Melbourne is a mix of the old and the new, beautiful old buildings such as Flinders Street Station stand opposite the funky and modern Federation Square. RMIT buildings also throw modern architecture into the mix, several of their buildings being quite unusual and whether you love them or hate them, they definitely capture your attention. Walking along busy streets and through narrow lane ways leads to some delightful finds, paper shops and English style pubs, a book shop where everything is $10, the Hopetoun Tea Rooms and Chokolait among my favourite finds.

Next year I’ll be heading back to Melbourne, with a little bit more time on my hands I plan on exploring other parts of Melbourne however I will return to a couple of my favourite places even if it is only to browse the menu or purchase a chocolate (or two).