Wednesday, 16 November 2011

A second day being a tourist in Melbourne

Jim checked the Transfercar website this morning, and there were no vehicles available to go from Melbourne anywhere we fancied.  So we decided to go for our swim, then off to a travel agent to book a flight.

We had a lovely swim at the baths we found yesterday.  Their lane management was much better than at our local pool because they have allocated expected swim times for each section.  I have not swum for 4 months, and Jim has not swum for a year or so, and we managed about 900m each.  It was lovely to swim again.

There was a set of free scales - this confirmed I weigh 12 stone, and Jim is 13 stone 2lb.  So I've lost half a stone since I got here.  Only another 2 stone to go!

We went to a travel agent and booked flights tomorrow to Sydney, and a night's accommodation.  Then we went back to our hotel, logged onto Transfercar, and a new transfer had just come on line - from Melbourne-Sydney.  You win some, lose some. 

Then I went to the Immigration Museum and learned all about the different groups that have migrated to Australia and how they earned their livings - from cake decorating (Hungarian), to traditional wedding finery (Greek), to machine knitting from home (Italian), boilermaking (Scottish).  I still find it intriguing to find out what actually motivates people to leave a familiar, if unacceptable, life, and to branch out into the unknown.  For all that I'm doing a student exchange, I cannot see me having the desire to permanently change my country of residence, despite thinking it quite likely that I will spend another year studying abroad somewhere else.

There was also a section on Child Migrants, largely from the UK, where orphaned and destitute children were sent to Australia to populate it under the "White Australia" policy.  This was portrayed in a balanced way, showing how some children benefited from this, and others were systematically lied to and did not.  However, it did fit with what I have heard from other sources, that children's homes, particularly Barnardo's, was very good at using wholesome images of this policy to gain financial support from the great and the good, when the experience of the children was far from wholesome.

We passed Flinders Street railway station and it has about 8 clocks hanging in the entrance of the station, showing the times of the next trains on each line, on analogue clocks.  This must be a predecessor of indicator boards, so that customers in a hurry can glance at the clock for their line, and know whether to hurry or not.

On the way back, we passed the ANZ bank.  This was an amazing example of Gothic architecture, with stunning painted and metal decoration inside the building.  It started as a huge domestic residence, then became the Stock Exchange with large wooden counters in the centre of a huge hall, then ANZ took it over and it is their corporate pride and joy.  Unsurprisingly.  We were told that the frieze of gothic dogs around the top of the ceiling, had one dog with no tail.  So we looked carefully, and found him in a corner.  I think the painters started in that corner, above the entrance door, worked their way all the way round, and then had misjudged the spacing slightly, so one dog lost its entwined tail.  Apparently it was the bank manager who pushed for the elaborate decoration and he was a big fan of the gothic style.  It was originally costed at $44,000 for 3 years work (in Victorian times I think) and by the time he had finished altering the spec as it was done, it cost $74,000 and took 4 years.  Sounds like a modern building contract!

Then once we got back to the hotel, I discovered my college modules had been enrolled by the International Office, and I could register for classes.  I'm still puzzled how to register for the summer school drawing class.  But my other classes are Indigeneous Studies Monday morning, History of Art tutorial Tuesday morning, Cloth and Habitable Space Wednesday morning and History of Art lecture Thursday morning.  All in all a pretty good timetable.  Roll on February!

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