Melbourne was the last stop on the family tour. As is essential in this city, we spent a fair bit of time wandering around the laneways. Of course this generally involved everyone going in different directions, then spending 20 minutes trying to wrangle everyone back together again. It’s dangerous to get Ed too close to a watch store, or Chris too close to a pen shop, or Rita and Maddie too close to souvenirs.
We also took a stroll down Hosier Lane to look at the graffiti; there was a different proposal on the wall from when we were last here!
It started raining, but fortunately the laneway cafes are prepared with big umbrellas and outdoor heaters, so we took a coffee and lunch break.
That afternoon it was time to head to Phillip Island for the Penguin Parade! Chris and I had not been able to resist and had already been once, but this time was extra special because Ed being Ed, he had bought the extra premium tickets so we got our own guided ranger tour and reserved private seating in a special section. Chris always delights in being able to sit apart from the “plebs with cheap tickets”, which is generally us 99% of the time.
Anyways, we got to Phillip Island with ample time to check out the visitors centre and see some of the little penguins already in their nesting boxes. This is basically the only place you can take pictures of them.
Once the doors opened our ranger came to take us on a small tour. It was pretty chilly outside, but our special tickets also included blankets and padded seats, which was nice. We got led to a small set of seats right along the beach, much quieter and less crowded than the huge bleachers we sat in last time we were here. Just as the sun set the penguins started appearing on the beach. Not sure if it was just the day or if this area of the beach is actually better, but we definitely did see more penguins here than we did in the general area. The penguin count for that night was over 1200, which is a pretty big turnout I think.
Once most of the penguins were ashore, we wandered around a bit watching them squawk and waddle around looking for their partners. Next to the boardwalk by the reserved seating there is what they call the “Penguin Highway” because it’s the route many of them take up to their nests. We followed along with them back to the visitors centre, where we got warming hot chocolates. Everyone spent a lot of time rolling up their little blankets (and I died laughing when Jeff’s spontaneously unraveled). It was then back to Melbourne for some late night KFC, something the guys had been looking for an excuse to get the whole trip.
Queen Victoria Market
Visiting the Queen Victoria Market consisted of everyone’s personalities coming to the fore. Ed was excited because we were taking the tram for the first time. Rita got a giant bread bowl soup and then wandered off with Maddie and split up the group. So the boys went and got coffees while Ed wandered around until he found someone to make him a belt. Then we magically ran into each other again (even though the market is the largest in the southern hemisphere). All in all, a typical outing Pon style.
AFL at the MCG
We had gotten a bit into AFL over the last fews months, so we were pretty excited to return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground for a Sunday game. Of course the boys had to have a beer (because SPORTS!) as well as a classic MCG hotdog. Ed seemed both pleased and slightly worried about his heart as he ate it. Unlike our last visit, we were sitting right at the front, which was pretty exciting. I knew all the rules and everything! Ed also decided he had to buy some team branded merch even though that was probably the only game they will ever see…
National Gallery of Victoria
We started off the day with some coffee and art at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). Unlike last time we actually saw the permanent collection this time, which included spending like 15 minutes watching a video waiting for a watermelon with elastic bands on it explode.
We took a donut break before heading to the Ian Potter Centre (also part of the NGV), where we saw some fun Melbourne-centric art.
Australian Centre for the Moving Image
We also went to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), which is a museum devoted to the moving image (videos, tv, video games, etc.). Chris and I had been here a couple of times before, once to actually look at the exhibits on the development of film and television, and once to basically play video games. Needless to say this was a hit with everyone. Ed and Rita went through the whole exhibit while Jeff and Maddie played video games. A bit of a break for them after having been dragged around so many art galleries.
State Library of Victoria
Ed wanted to stop by the State Library of Victoria, which has a REALLY NICE reading room in the centre under a big dome. So nice it almost made me miss studying. There are galleries in the halls around the room with lots of important literary memorabilia and such. The highlight was Ned Kelly’s armour, which we hadn’t expected to see there, but Chris was very pleased that we did! He figures that since we’ve seen the armour and also James Cook’s diary, we’ve now seen the most important Australian artifacts.
While wandering around downtown we stopped at a camera shop and also what is billed as a “world famous camera museum”. Most of the visit consisted of Ed pointing out ancient cameras that he used to own. He also bought me a lens cap because apparently people get twitchy when I shove my camera in my bag unprotected.
If I had a quarter for every time Ed said “Well it’s not the London Eye”, I could buy like, a coffee. But a pretentious Australian coffee, not a Tim Hortons. Which is a lot of quarters (WHY, AUSTRALIA)! Anyways, the point of this story is that we went and looked at the Melbourne Star but didn’t actually ride it because it’s not as tall as the London Eye.
While Googling ferris wheel heights we discovered that the London Eye is currently the fourth highest, behind the High Roller in Las Vegas, the Singapore Flyer, and the Star of Nanchang in China (the Melbourne Star is seventh). Jeff and I have actually ridden the Singapore Flyer, meaning we are beating Ed, much to his dismay.
Vivid Sydney at Darling Harbour
For the last night in Sydney (for the rest of the Pons) we decided to head back to Darling Harbour for dinner. Ed figured that since it was the last day of the trip, he was going to splurge and eat at the expensive seafood restaurant we had noticed earlier on.
Vivid Sydney had just started, which is a big light festival that occurs all across the city. For the festival there was a light show happening every 30 minutes in Darling Harbour. The show was set to music from Australian artists, so there was some Kylie Minogue that Ed appreciated. The show was pretty crazy, with lasers shooting across the harbour, images projected onto spraying water, and FIRE! Ed was very depressed when he realized he had forgotten to bring his camera.
It a fit of “last night!” excitement, we ordered way too much food and then exploded ourselves trying to finish it. An appropriate end note for the trip I think.