Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Round The World 2004

Melb'ne & MEL-BNE

I had an absolutely first-rate night's sleep in a wonderfully comfortable bed. I awoke at 7, then again at 8, then again at 9! Oops ... this hadn't been in the plan, but it really didn't matter and I guess I must have needed the rest. I eventually jumped out of bed at 0905 and had a quick look out through a gap in the curtains to see a rather different view from yesterday - this one featuring grey skies. I had a quick, refreshing shower and headed down for a very nice cooked breakfast, which I reckoned would probably be my main meal of the day. By the time I got packed and organised, I ended up checking out just minutes before the deadline of 1100. I left my suitcase with the concierge and headed out for a second bite at sight-seeing. I walked along the Southbank and crossed the new-looking footbridge near Flinders Street station. Instead of again staying on the periphery of the city centre, I pressed on into the heart of the central business district, up Elizabeth Street, along Bourke Street Mall and down Swanston Street. I particularly liked the Town Hall and St Paul's Cathedral. (I had seen St Paul's from Flinders Street yesterday, but it wasn't its best side.)

Always with an eye for quirkiness of any kind, I spotted an example of the famous Melbourne 'hook turn', a traffic procedure which I believe is unique to this city. Because of the intensity of the tram network and the desire for right-turning traffic not to foul the tramlines, there is a special procedure for making right turns at certain city centre junctions. Instead of getting into the right lane on approaching the junction, you use the LEFT lane. You make as though to pull into the street on the left, but immediately swing round and position yourself in front of the waiting cars. You then complete your turn ONLY when the cross street light has turned green! It works well enough (from the car driver's point of view) if only one or two cars are waiting to turn, but not otherwise. From the tram passenger's point of view, it works just fine.

I then boarded a river cruise heading in the up-river direction, which was reasonably interesting and certainly passed the time. It rained for a good proportion of the time I was aboard, but I suppose I was lucky that I stayed dry the rest of the time. Disembarking at Federation Square an hour or so later, I took a City Circle tram back to the hotel to pick up my suitcase and head for the airport. The on-board attendant had a very curious way of grabbing people's attention. At every stop, he would call to those outside "City Circle : free, free, free, free, free, free, free ..." Announcing the next stop was even stranger : "Marky-marky-marky-marky-marky-marky-Market Street" and "Spenny-spenny-spenny-spenny-spenny-spenny-Spencer Street." Hmmm ... different!

Melbourne skyline - new day, different weather! Yarra River footbridge and Flinders St Station Town Hall and a procession of trams
St Paul's City Centre building Princes Bridge, said to be a smaller-scale copy of London's Blackfriars Bridge

I picked up my suitcase and made that seemingly very long walk to the Skybus terminal, boarding an absolutely packed bus for the airport. I was checked in by an agent who definitely did not sound Australian - she turned out to be from Greenock! Small world, indeed. The Qantas Club at MEL is huge and I used the opportunity to catch up on some e-mails while enjoying various types of fruit tea.

(Link to flight log in side panel)

On arrival at Brisbane, I used the hotel shuttle bus to get to the Holiday Inn.