State of the Art

Saturday, September 13, 2014 Road Junkies 0 Comments

A WANDER DOWN UNDER, CHAPTER 10:  IN WHICH WE MEET THE BIG CHEESE

Day 11:  Hobart to Melbourne.  With our flight to Melbourne not leaving until 10:30 this morning, we took our time getting to the small Hobart airport.  Much to our surprise, the terminal was a hub of activity.  The line for security screening was longer than we expected because numerous flights were scheduled, and non-passengers, allowed access to the gate area, helped clog the queue.  Again for this domestic flight, no one ever checked our identification and we were not asked to present any documents until we actually boarded the plane.

The flight took less than an hour, and we were soon picking up our rental car at the Melbourne airport.  On the drive from the airport into the city on the Tullamarine Freeway, we couldn't miss seeing some of Melbourne's vast collection of public art.  First came the Melbourne International Gateway, better known to locals as the cheesestick and the grater (or the ribcage), the kind of work that provokes remarks like, "What was that?"  The landmark consists of a 230-ft yellow beam cantilevered to loom diagonally over 8 lanes of traffic, coupled with a collection of 39 red beams lurking nearby.  According to those responsible for its installation, the yellow beam is meant to commemorate Victoria's gold rush, while the red beams symbolize the state's wheat industry.

Melbourne International Gateway (photo by Mary Ann Adair)
As we were still scratching our heads over what struck us as a giant french fry reaching out to some streams of catsup, we entered what appeared to be a widely spaced mesh tube covered with transparent skin arched over the freeway.  Constructed as a sound barrier to reduce noise pollution in nearby housing towers, the Flemington Bridge cleverly effects an artistic combination of form and function.

Flemington Bridge sound barrier
Arriving at the Oaks Hotel on William Street just after noon, we checked in and stowed the rental car in the hotel's garage before heading off to the Queen Victoria Market just a block away.  Known locally as "Queen Vic," this historic landmark first opened its doors in the 1850s as a fruit and vegetable market.  Over the years, it gradually expanded until it now encompasses two city blocks.  In addition to the original fare, market vendors today sell gourmet foods, cosmetics, clothing, souvenirs, household goods, and many other types of merchandise, both manufactured and handmade.

Traders like this one contribute to the colorful atmosphere at the Queen Vic.
The Vic's food court offered a large variety of cuisines from many different cultures.  A Malaysian style of fried rice was our choice for lunch, and its bold flavors separated it from the familiar Chinese fried rice of our previous experience.

Owned by the city, the Queen Vic is one of Melbourne's top tourist attractions.  Last year the city committed to the largest investment in its history to preserve and renew the beloved landmark.  After the renewal, Melbourne intends to petition UNESCO to grant World Heritage status to the market.

This trader was selling some amazing handmade books, complete with handmade paper for the pages.
Leaving the Queen Vic, we walked over a couple of blocks to Melbourne Central, a large shopping, office, and transportation complex, to pick up some supplies.  Inside, we found another example of the city's preservation efforts.  When the central complex was planned, an 1881 shot tower, used in the manufacture of ammunition for firearms and retired in 1961, stood on the site.

Shot tower inside Melbourne Central
Nine stories tall, the tower was saved from demolition and incorporated into the design of Melbourne Central with a conical glass roof built over it.  Much of its original equipment remains, and a museum has been installed in the tower to showcase its historic role in the city.

As we have committed to do on this trip, we built some relaxation time into this travel day, spending the remainder of the day resting in our apartment.  Tomorrow, we plan to hook up with a guided walking tour of the city and take in a bit of Australian theatre.

Road Noise:

At the Melbourne airport, officials are keenly aware of the international mix of passengers entering  the city.  This includes visitors from cultures where the sanitation norm is squat toilets with used paper thrown into a trash bin.  Just in case the airport's restrooms offer a guest's first experience with western style toilets, signs offer guidance.


Daily Stats:
  • Started in Hobart, ended in Melbourne
  • Mileage -  403     (Trip total:  11,288)
  • Weather - 41° to 66 °, sunny to partly cloudy
  • Shoppers at Queen Victoria Market - 44,178   
SATURDAY, 13 SEPTEMBER, 2014