02 – 07 JULY 2015:
Melbourne was even colder than Sydney! Ugg boots were a must! I can see why they were designed here! I didn’t have a lot planned for Melbourne and the cold weather combined with my lovely one bedroom apartment at Adina Hotel in Northbank made it quite discouraging to go outside. I liked to cosy up there most evenings but I still made an effort to see as much as possible in the day time, in spite of the cold!
My apartment was on Flinders Street which is near Federation Square, Rialto Towers and Crown Casino to name a few so I pretty much walked everywhere, however the tram seemed to be the most common form of transportation around the city. I personally didn’t use any of the trams because I was so close to everything I wanted to see and decided I would get a bit of exercise in by walking. Yarra River is also on Flinders Street. It’s not that attractive in the daytime but at night it seems to come alive because of all the lights from the riverside buildings which reflect on the water.
As there was limited sunshine during my time in Melbourne, I decided to soak up some culture instead.
MELBOURNE OLD GAOL
About two miles away from my hotel was the Old Melbourne Gaol museum. I have a bit of a weird fascination with prisons so definitely wanted to visit here.
It cost $25 AUD (£13) for an adult ticket.
It’s an excellent historical place to visit, a little on the creepy side, but this all adds to the atmosphere. It’s great for both older children and adults as you can see what an old prison was like; how tough it was on the prisoners with the conditions they were subjected to. You can even see the hanging platform and tools used for the execution.
You can do your own self tour through the jail or pay an extra $5pp for a group tour. There was a lot of information throughout all of the cells, such as prisoners’ stories, facts about the prison and the justice system over the years, and how it’s evolved. There were some cool artifacts displayed behind glass windows and also some that you could actually hold.
They had a few “experiences” (events) taking place throughout the day included in the ticket price. I took part in the ‘Watch House Experience’ which immerses you in the arresting process. It was an interactive session where everyone in the group was individually arrested and taken to a holding cell.
The crime I allegedly committed was ‘stalking’ (YOU HAVE NO PROOF!!). You also get taken to the shower and the exercise yard which aren’t quite on par with the facilities I get at my local David Lloyd Health club!
Obviously prison conditions have changed over the years. Some say prisons are more like holiday camps these days in comparison, but nevertheless I am committed to ensuring I lead a crime free life for the rest of my days. I like to be able to shower in privacy!
A few days each week they also run night tours, and some of the night tours are conducted in the dark. They are meant to be very theatrical and interesting (and probably terrifying). I would have definitely done one if I had the chance!
Located on the same road as my hotel, the concept for this museum piqued my interest as it’s not your typical museum theme. I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did though. It cost $12 AUD (£6) admission for an adult which I thought was very reasonable.
The museum has so much information both visually and also with audio descriptions, and it is highly interactive – things shown on big screens, amazing displays, and you can actually go through the Australian citizenship interview process for yourself (FUN!! LOL). There’s also some great stories about early the immigrants to Australia. You can even see the type of ships early English “immigrants” arrived in, showing just how tough it was in those early days.
Contrary to the name, the museum isn’t just about immigration. It teaches you about different cultures and it challenges your thinking. It questions peoples’ assumptions based on factors such as ethnicity, appearance, and culture / sub-culture. It is not only informative but very eye opening in a dynamic way. It makes you think about your life and mind set, and questions your personal beliefs and opinions.
Upstairs there is a paper based wish tree where you can add your wishes for your future and your hopes for the world. I thought this was a very nice idea and great for people to contribute to, especially kids.
The whole concept is terrific! Personally, the experience really instilled a sense of pride in being able to say I come from two very different cultures.