Australia 2010

A circumnavigation (with risks).

Melbourne.

As recommended by Lonely Planet we are parked up at the Ashley Gardens, Big 4 Holiday Village (S37.78307 E144.86441) about 10km North West of Melbourne city centre. A pleasant place in a rather unpleasant area of town, but with good bus access to Melbourne CBD (as Australians call it). We are here primarily to catch the ferry to Tasmania tomorrow.

Having spent two days visiting the city it is hard not to be underwhelmed by Melbourne in comparison with Brisbane and Sydney.

By far the most impressive part of Melbourne we have seen is Federation Square ("a riotous explosion of steel, glass and abstract geometry"). It is also where you find the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, art galleries and lots of good restaurants.

This monumental work is a geographical map of the artist's County, which lies between Uluru and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) Embedded in this county and underpinning the work is his Cockatoo Dreaming story. A cockatoo was preparing kangaroo meat to store for when she would lay her eggs. A jealous crow was watching and decided to steal some meat for itself. The cockatoo and crow fought for some time - leaving holes in the surrounding country - until the crow hit the cockatoo with a rock, badly injuring her. An eagle had witnessed the fight and decided to help the cockatoo, so she called out to the crow telling him she wanted to make love. The excited crow lay in waiting for the eagle but she struck out at him with hot spinifex wax, scalding his genitals. Crying out in pain the crow flew away. This is how the landforms of Kunmanara's Dreaming place came into being: the eagle is a hill that overlooks the cockatoo, a brilliant white rock protecting it from bad weather, and the white stones lying around the site are the cockatoo's feathers.

Walking round the rest of Melbourne is a bit disappointing after Federation Square. But two innovations were memorable.

The first video enhanced hand dryer I have seen (in the toilets of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image).

The Hook turn. A complicated, and at first very confusing, way of turning right at traffic lights from the left lane only (with trams in the centre of the road).