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Friday, March 6: Day 319 – Melbourne

Melbourne was established in 1835. The biggest population surge occurred during the gold rush which then allowed for massive building projects.

Diseases brought by the white men killed many indigenous people who had no immunity. There were conflicts over the land.

The indigenous people had no concept of ownership. In fact, one does not own the land, the land owns them.

In the 19th century there wasn’t much thought about the indigenous people. Aboriginals either defended themselves and the land or went to church missions.

Sir Douglas Nicholls was knighted by the queen for his work as an Aboriginal and for Aboriginal rights. He campaigned for rights and recognition. These First People were subjected to systematic and cultural death. Children of mixed blood were forcibly taken from their parents and given to white families to be raised until the 1970’s.

When an indigenous man was asked what the river was called, he said,”Yarra yarra”. Yarra means water. The Yarra River runs through Melbourne.

The State Library of Victoria was built of marble in 1858. On one side is Joan of Arc and on the other side is St. George slaying the dragon. It was thought wise to keep England and France apart. In the middle is a statue of Sir Redmond Barry, a judge and lawyer that sentenced the infamous outlaw, Ned Kelly, to death.

Ned Kelly was accused of robbery and horse stealing. So the law was after him. He burned places where mortgages were held so people bought him drinks. He killed three police officers. He was wanted for over two years. There was a shootout and he wore some metal armor looking like a version of Darth Vader. It was bulletproof but his arms and legs weren’t covered.

Barry uttered the customary words “May God have mercy on your soul”. Kelly replied “I will go a little further than that and say I will see you there when I go”. Judge Barry died two weeks later.

We saw the jail where Kelly was hanged. The jail is now a wedding venue that brings new meaning to the term “tie the knot”.

Michael Crimmins was the youngest prisoner at this jail. The three-year-old spent six months in the prison in 1857 for being idle and disorderly. His parents abandoned him when they went to gold fields.

There is Eight Hour Day Monument. Melbourne was the first city in the world to establish an eight-hour workday. There was a protest in 1856. Actually, Melbourne is known for protests and strikes due to its high population of students and trade unions. In fact, Melbourne is the most left-leaning city in Australia.

Here are a few things that we witnessed:

Anyway, overworked construction workers laid down their tools and wanted 8 hours of work, 8 hours of recreation and education, and 8 hours to sleep. This was known as 888. Good on ya, Melbourne!

Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world.

There are eight public universities. The Chinese university student has to pay their fees before they can attend class.

Melbourne and Queen Victoria grew up together. Many of the buildings are Victorian.

In 1852 when they asked if the land south of the Murray River could be a separate state, Queen Victoria said “No”. They were smarter the next time and said that they would name the state Victoria. This time she said “Yes”.

Queen Victoria is the second most statued woman in the world behind the Virgin Mary. This is what our guide said, but I have NEVER seen a statue of Queen Victoria.

In the Carlton Gardens, trees were imported from all over the world so people would feel at home.

Wrapped around the bases of the trees are slippery metal plates to prevent oppossums from climbing. It doesn’t work as we see two oppossums named Susan and Trevor. If they have been named, they must be regulars.

In 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition Building epitomized the wealth, opulence, excitement, energy and spirit of Marvelous Melbourne. The international trade show brought cultures, technology and ideas from across the world to Melbourne.

Gold was mined in central Victoria, but buying and selling took place in Melbourne. There was more gold in Australia than in California, Alaska and Canada combined.

There was a population boom. This gave way to “gold babies” who could have the fortune that their parents made at the age of 18. This produced the prosperous era known as the Marvelous Melbourne Era. In 1893 the banks collapsed because they couldn’t keep up. There was more champagne drunk in Melbourne than in France.

When Australia became a nation, Melbourne and Sydney argued as to who should be the capital. It was decided that a new city would be established halfway between the two cities. Canberra is that city.

Street Art is not just murals, but artists must get a permit for a legal wall. This anti-graffiti move is a money saving proposition for the city.

There are a lot of pop-up bars. This popular one is called Section 8 and is not permanent but has been here since 2011. Customers sit on stacked pallets.

The street buskers are very good. In fact, they must audition to get a spot in the city. They select the best.

The Royal Arcade houses many interesting boutiques complete with
hand-made floor tiles.

The Block is nearby and is a trendy part of town. The train station is a beautiful building from the Marvelous Melbourne era. The focal point on the outside is a large clock. When someone says “Meet me at the Clocks”, this is what they mean.

New York City has Broadway, London has the West End, and Melbourne has the East End. Tonight we go to a play entitled Come From Away.

The play was clever and amusing as 38 flights containing passengers from 100 countries were downed in Gander, Newfoundland (Population: 8,000). There was a huge runway there as airplanes in the past would need to stop here and fuel up. Challenges to the local population and the foreigners in a strange place made for some funny dialogue.

However, as an American who witnessed the nightmare of 911, it is hard to see this as a comedy. The passengers were indeed frightened, especially of the unknown. They complained about food, accommodations and lack of phone service. I kept thinking that those that died would gladly accept these inconveniences. I shed a few tears.

May we realize that when we complain either in our thoughts or verbally, there are many, many people who are sick, in pain, deceased, etc. would gladly trade places with us with our minor inconveniences!! When you look at it that way, it is all small potatoes!!!!

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