It was Dan’s second day here, and we headed into groovy funky Carlton. We jumped out of the train at Museu… errr Melbourne Central and strolled up Swanston Street, along the way pointing out the RMIT students, who at the time had been occupying one of the university’s finance offices for a couple of weeks. They were battling university policy with big banners and shouting into megaphones, the same way most protestors do.
Lygon Street, Carlton, is definitely Melbourne’s epicure epicentre. You could spend far too much time, money and appetite here buying all sorts of gastronomic goodies. Dan’s particular quest was to find the perfect baguette – it had to be nice and crunchy, and firm, not baggy. Once it was found, we managed to dodge the continual swarms of school children doing some kind of survey, and get on with the serious business of lunch at Thresherman’s and a gelato at that place opposite the park.
By that time it was raining pretty hard, but by the time we’d finished the gelati, it had let up a bit, and we walked back to the city, and spontaneously decided that a visit to the Old Melbourne Gaol was in order. My wife L and her mother visited there a couple of years ago, and came back with stories of being scared out of their wits by the dark, dingy cells with their hanged prisoners’ death masks.
I actually didn’t think it was that scary, but after a while we did hear a mournful wailing coming through the Gaol. It was my son Isaac, who had decided that it was not a very interesting place for a toddler to be.
We walked back to Melbourne Central for a much needed coffee/hot chocolate break and a look at the shot tower. It’s a 100ish year old tower that they couldn’t knock down because it is protected, so they built the shopping centre around it instead. It may not sound like much, but it gets a good reaction the first time people see it, especially if you don’t warn them first!
We went through looking at the shops and kept on into Myer. We saved the descent back to street level for the Bourke Street store, where we could get a lift that still had a human operator announcing each floor – a bit like the start of "Are You Being Served". Then we walked the length of the Bourke Street Mall, dodging trams and listening to what ever buskers we could find along the way, and stopping at Darrell Lea for the compulsory big bag of liquorice.
After dropping past McGills and the map shop in Little Bourke Street we went up and down the delightfully scenic Hardware Street, which I suspect is somewhere a lot of visitors to the city don’t know about. And that’s a good thing, it has a certain ambience it wouldn’t achieve if it were swarmed with the masses. The same goes for Equitable Place, which we also explored before heading home from Flinders Street.