We finally made it to Melbourne early Tuesday morning & had a fairly long walk across the city from the bus station to our hostel - YHA Metro. After checking in we set out to find a supermarket as we were starving - its amazing how hungry a night in a bus shelter makes you!
After our feed we set off into Melbourne city centre to buy some jumpers. Although we've had really nice weather since we've arrived, it gets cold at night and we only brought one jumper each with us as we thought it was going to be hot all day here. Plus Melbourne is also renowned for its changeable weather so we wanted to be prepared! After we'd finished we headed back to the hostel for a much needed quiet evening & a good nights sleep!
The following day we set out on the free shuttle bus that they have here in the city & stopped at the 'Melbourne Observation Deck'. This is one of the tallest building in the city that has a viewing floor on one of the top levels. The tower is 253m tall and offers spectacular 360 degree views across the city. From here we could see everything including the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit including the pits & the Melbourne Cricket Ground which was really impressive! From the tower we jumped (not literally) back onto the shuttle bus to the Old Melbourne Gaol. This is Victoria's oldest prison where 136 people have been hung (nice!) including the famous Ned Kelly. Here we walked around the only remaining prison block. They had information on the prisoners that were kept here and they even displayed the original 'Death Masks' of some of those who had been hung. These masks were plaster cast moulds that were made after the hanging so that local scientism could try and determine if there were any trends in skulls / brains of criminals - there weren't any! In the evening we headed down to the Southbank to check out these columns that blast out giants flames into the sky. On arrival we found out that they only 'go off' every hour and we'd missed the 9 o'clock showing by 2 minutes. To waste time until the 10 o'clock 'blast' we walked along to the Crown Casino. Here we had a go on the 'pokies' - and lost (only $1 each - hey big spenders!). It was more interesting to walk around and see everyone else throwing their money away. On one of the roulette tables we saw a woman walk up & throw down $100 on one spin. She didn't win and she didn't look like she minded that much either. Now I know this isn't much in Casino terms but it was annoying for us as we've only got $100 a day to spend between us and she'd just spent it in 5 mins - mind you given the chance Helen could do that in most shops :o) We made it back out to the river in time for the 10 o'clock flames and it was cool to see although the photo's don't do it justice.
The following day we headed to the Queen Victoria Market. This is the biggest market i've ever seen selling almost everything you need and even more things that you don't! Helen was in love here!! She would have walked around these stall for hours and hours everyday!!! I will admit the food was good. We got fresh fruit, veg & meat that which was delicious and it was even cheaper than the supermarkets. After a couple of hours we headed back to the hostel for some lunch, however we ended up staying here as it rained for the rest of the day (our first rainy day in OZ). This did however give us time to research & plan our next months travels.
Friday was a very eventful day! We set off in the morning to the Royal Botanical Gardens as they are meant to be some of the best in world. Our opinion was that they were nice, but they were nowhere near as good as Kew Gardens or the Eden Project but it may have been the wrong time of the year. We left here at 12 (we thought) as we were going on a brilliant tour that afternoon to... wait for it... Ramsay Street - the home of Neighbours! We got to the bus stop in plenty of time to get to the opposite side of the city where we were getting picked up at 1:15pm, that was until Helen realised that the watch button was pulled out. We asked someone what the time was and it was 1:10 - s***! We found a phone and asked if we could be picked up somewhere nearer, which luckily it was possible. The only problem was that they had made an error with our booking and there was only space for one person! At the office they apologised and explained that they could not do anything for the days trip as it was fully booked so we could either take the trip tomorrow, have the value of trip in merchandise (no!) or have our money back. Its fair to say I that I was the not happiest at this as I was hungry & tired at the time but also because on the trip the following day you DIDN'T get to meet a member of the cast so my chances of meeting Pepper were dashed! Gutted! The other problem was that we were leaving Melbourne the following day and we were meant to be picking up a hire car at 10:30am. After a few phone calls to the car hire company to explain we may be 30mins late we accepted the tour the following day, which was more expensive (although we didn't have to pay the extra) as you visited more that just the street. As we now had the afternoon free we did a bit more research into our journey around the Southern, Northern & Western Territories.
Saturday we were up early to be down at the tour office by 8am. Here we caught a bus to the world famous Ramsay Street, although its really called Pine Oak Court. The street itself is much smaller than you think and believe it or not Karl Kennedy and co. do not actually live here! It was weird to actually see the houses for real and we both felt really sad to be here but it had to be done!!! From the street we headed to the studios where we saw all the outside sets for likes of Lassiters, Harold & Lou's shop, the Garage etc... Again it was amazing how small it all was & it was funny that each of the 'buildings' are actually just storage cupboards inside. Every room in the show is actually a flimsy set made up in a day inside the studios - I was shocked & still in denial!!! From the studios we were taken to 'Erinsborough High' or as its really know Blackburn Language School. This was the last stop on the tour so we headed back to the Melbourne. Here we picked up our hire car and we are now driving along the Great Ocean Road but we will include this in a separate posting.
Hope everyone is well
Gavin and Helen
We will be adding photos soon, we're just unable to do it on this computer.