Monday, 27 February 2012

Torquay to Melbourne

This is the final entry on the blog for the road trip as the car has to be returned to the place where we started back in Melbourne. To make the most of the day we left Torquay early to take a quick detour to Bells Beach, which is a famous surfing beach where the final showdown in Point Break was filmed. Admittedly, I've never seen the film (although Lizzie is vowing to make me watch it soon...), but I was in awe of the sea as some really powerful waves crashed metres in front of us. We had to abandon the beach visit fairly quickly though as we were being bitten by blood sucking flies!

Bells Beach is the mecca of surfing, this was just one of many surfers!

A surfer getting ready to take on the ocean

Pressing on, the next stop en route to Melbourne was Geelong (or 'Geh-long' as it's pronounced) which was a 20 minute drive from Torquay. Although, we only had an hour to spare we were able to check out the revamped waterfront at Corio Bay and some of the unique buildings on Moorabool St.

The distinctive T&G Building in Geelong
The T&G Assurance Building in Warnambool

Although, no longer called the T&G building, this iconic Art Deco masterpiece is in the heart of Napier
The T&G Mutual Life Assurance Society was an insurance company that operated in Australia and New Zealand in a number of iconic Art Deco buildings. Although the company no longer exists the name still lives on in several cities including in Waarnambool, and Napier in New Zealand, which we visited on our original trip.

Down by the waterfront there are a number of brightly colour bollards (111 in total) which capture the character of Geelong's inhabitants, past and present. These range from the lifeguard team, to some fishermen and even the town band. The Baywalk Bollards were created by local artist, Jan Mitchell, who transformed old timber pier pylons into this colourful piece of public art. The most recent bollard is a tribute to Jan Mitchell herself as she died in 2008.

Lizzie as part of the lifesaving team

Volunteer Rifle Band represents Geelong’s first band
concerts in 1861

The Geelong Baths Swimming Club with yours truly

World War II couple
1940s Tram Conductress

Scallop fishermen and woman
Yacht Club lady

Mrs de Carteret
Fireman representing the Volunteer Fire Brigade

The final leg back to Melbourne was far less interesting (apart from trying to navigate our way round the city centre) but it concluded our 1254 km or 779 mile trip!

It was a sad day saying goodbye to the trusty Ford Focus

To cap off a fantastic week on the road, we quickly dropped into the State Victoria Library to check out the Ned Kelly exhibition, which included his death mask and the most complete version of his infamous armour from Ned's capture at Glenrowan. Normally these items are on display at Old Melbourne Gaol so I'd imagine you'd be quite gutted if you paid the entrance fee at the gaol to find out you they're free to view temporarily at the library!

What I was also impressed by at the library was the octagonal La Trobe Reading Room. This was the largest reinforced-concrete dome in the world when it was completed in 1913. Since 1959, copper sheets were installed over the skylights as sheets of glass had reportedly fallen onto the library users below. However, with the wonders of modern technology the dome has been restored to it's original state and the reading room can be flooded with natural daylight once again.

We're staying in a different (more central hostel) for our last two days in Melbourne and just around from the corner are the Carlton Gardens where the UNESCO World Heritage listed Royal Exhibition Building can be found. Built for the 1880 International Exhibition, the building is one of the world's oldest remaining exhibition pavilions.

The Royal Exhibition Building was designed by the architect Joseph Reed, who also designed the State Library of Victoria

After taking advantage of the $5 pizza offer at the Blue Moon Bar next to our hostel (it was actually a nicely made fresh pizza, nothing out of the microwave!), we went for an evening stroll on Yarra promenade down by the Southbank where we eventually finished up at Federation Square for a free Cornetto ice cream to round off the day.

View of the city skyline from the Southbank

The Travellers sculpture, Sandridge Bridge

Melbourne skyline with the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge

Clock tower of Flinders Street station under the bridge arch

Flinders Street station is the oldest station in Australia

Alas this draws to a close to our adventure around Victoria and Melbourne, and brings us onto the main part of our trip - New Zealand.

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