Thursday, April 28, 2011

Melbourne In Review - Part One

So, as you probably read (we certainly weren’t keeping it quiet) Ell-Leigh and I both headed off on holidays a couple of weeks ago. While Ell jetted off to the sunny climes of Hawaii (Hawaii!), I took a much shorter plane trip down south to Victoria for a family party in Ballarat and then a stay in Melbourne. Today’s post was supposed to be a full run down of my trip, but I discovered that there was simply too much to share, and being stricken with a not very bad but still making me want to only curl up and watch Gilmore Girls and eat Easter chocolate cold, I decided to split the post in two. So, today I will take you through accommodation and sightseeing, next week will come shopping, show-going and eating! Hurrah!
For our stay in Melbourne I chose The Brooklyn Arts Hotel. On the page, The Brooklyn seemed to fit all my requirements; price, location, great reviews, and as an added bonus owner Maggie only charged our twin share as a single room when my sister went away for two nights on a driving tour. Top it all off with a quirky and friendly webpage which suggested an out of the ordinary stay and included breakfasts and we were decided. Happily, off the page and in real life, The Brooklyn Arts Hotel was as lovely as hoped.

the street we stayed on (The Brooklyn is the building farthest left)

oh so cute!

Our colourful little room had two comfortable single beds, a sink and mirror, a little writing desk and the most amazing heater in the world. We shared a bathroom with one other room, though never had to wait for use, and attached were two toilets. The facilities were always clean and they were decorated nicely with a rustic feel. I did wonder how comfortable one might be in the open air toilets in the dead of a cold Melbourne winter, though finding any warm bathroom in the Melbourne chill is a possibly difficult task. 

Breakfast included a choice of gluten free breads, an amazing range of spreads, yoghurt, tea and coffee makings and friendly banter amongst guests and staff. The back garden sheltered chairs and tables set up for reading, working, or taking afternoon tea and was home to two delightful dogs.
our bathroom + yours truly
The Brooklyn Arts Hotel is located in hip and happenin' Fitzroy (this is purely guidebook speak, the locals would not use this language. That said, it's certainly the hip and happenin' part of town) and within walking distance of Brunswick and Johnston Streets, with a tram stop one block down and the city a very cheap taxi fare away when late nights negate public transport.
I loved the non-sterile feel of The Brooklyn which allowed me to feel much more comfortable and welcome throughout my stay than I do at 'regular' hotels. I would definitely reccommend The Brooklyn to anybody heading to Melbourne.

Certainly, there is much to see and do in Melbourne and I split my time between touristy sightseeing and more specific activities. Here are a few of my picks for best of sight seeing in Melbourne. 

City Circle Tram
Melbourne is famous for its trams and for good reason. They run often, are quick, easy to navigate and though there are newer models out and about, many are still quite old and give a sense of history and pomp your day to day journeying. The City Circle tram is free and runs a rectangle right around the city centre, with running commentary played over speakers about upcoming historical buildings or interesting sights. The City Circle is a very good and wallet friendly way to get acquainted with the area and pick out places to return to. 


Dreams Come True Exhibition (or the Disney Princesses) at The Australian Centre of the Moving Image
ACMI, as it is more easily written, is located within Federation Square in the heart of the city. The Dreams Come True Exhibition, which, sadly, ended yesterday, was housed in just one of the large exhibition areas located in the centre, and even without the princesses I would suggest ACMI is very much worth a visit. 

Dreams Come True was a very special exhibition of the art and work behind Disney’s classic fairy tales and their princesses. While I was already excited to see the films themselves deconstructed and get a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse, I was amazed at how engagingly the exhibition was presented. With each section dedicated to a different princess, chronicling the differences in techniques and technology behind the each of the film’s creation, it was a very informative show. 

Tutankhamen Exhibit at the Melbourne Museum 
I’m always a little bit wary when I have to buy tickets in advance for a museum exhibit, because it generally means crowds, and being a shorter person this generally means viewing can be difficult.
While the exhibition was certainly crowded, it was set out in a way combated this well, with small glass cases of various ‘tomb artefacts’ scattered around each room, with written panels both at the base of the exhibited item and at the top of the case. The display included a huge collection of relics taken from Tutankhamen’s tomb, plus information on what his life might have been like, his family, and the uncovering of his burial place. 

State Library of Victoria
Now that's what I call a library
While a library might not be everyone’s cup of tea to visit, I love to see how grand libraries are set up, particularly because ours here in Queensland, while pretty great, doesn’t have the grand architectural aspect of others.
The State Library of Victoria also, I must add, provided me a very welcome warm and dry retreat on a morning of not so welcoming Melbourne weather, complete with free internet and some very interesting photographic displays

ANZ Gothic Bank Building
An outside part of the actual bank!
Not the fancy roof of the bank...but of some other buidling
There was something grand sounding about the ANZ Gothic Bank Building that caught my attention on my touristy guide map, and I made a note to check it out if I happened to be close.
While mostly easy to navigate, I did find myself becoming slightly disoriented when in the central business and shopping parts of the city, and I have to admit I did enter one building thinking that it was the ANZ building I wanted to see, only to take interior photos and exit to see a sign pointing to the actual building in the opposite direction. I didn’t stay long at the bank once I finally got there, but it was indeed grand and gothic and distinctly reminded me of the bank the children are taken to in Mary Poppins, the bank in which all the scary men sing about tuppence. It’s definitely worth a solemn squiz if you’re ever in the area. 

The National Gallery of Victoria
The National Gallery of Victoria is actually split over two different venues on opposite sides of the Yarra River. This should not be confusing, but after all my careful laying of plans and pouring over the incredibly thick gallery guide book to choose which exhibitions I wanted to see in my limited time, I somehow still went to the wrong one! Luckily it was only a short tram ride to the other gallery and I was still able to get back in time to see all I wanted, but it was rather embarrassing to return to collect my cloaked bag only minutes after handing it over (cloaking, by the way, is the most genius of ideas when you’re travelling to relieve sore shoulders and backs from heavy, tourist stuff filled bags). 

this one got my vote, sketches all done in biro.
I visited two of the gallery’s current exhibitions, ManStyle and Top Arts: VCE 2010, both of which were incredibly interesting. ManStyle took a look at men’s clothing, particularly the suit, and how it had adapted to change and caused change over the centuries. Top Arts is an annual display of the best of Victorian year twelve art students' projects, and it was a simply amazing and inspiring collection. There was an viewer’s choice vote at the end, and while I loved and voted for Freya Alexander’s ball point pen on cardboard drawings, I believe Philip Hickingbotham’s portrait of his father drawn in charcoal (!!) will win. It was honestly one of the most moving piece of art I’ve ever seen, and purely amazing considering it was created by someone so young. Oh the talent! 

Both images from The Sydney Morning Herald's slideshow of all the selected artwork. Definitely worth a look!

 Stay tuned next week for Melbourne in Review - Part Two: Shopping, Show Going and Eating!

1 comment:

  1. Those dogs are adorable! And that library is amazing. I really want to have my own library [complete with the sliding ladders!] someday.


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