The next day we got up early for a morning stroll along the Yarra. Again, we had abnormal and seemingly unnatural good weather. I was almost upset that I hadn’t gotten to wear my new coat yet, which I had specifically bought for the trip. Being the third day of the trip, it was the first day that I felt settled in the city. Days and two just fly by so fast, and there is so much to take in that you don’t really feel like you’re there yet. But on day three I finally did. I could finally start to enjoy the city for what it was now that I was not overwhelmed by new sights and sounds. The plan for today was a river cruise along the Yarra, but it did not depart till 10:30, and we still had time to spare. Realizing we had not yet seen one of Melbourne’s most defining locations- Federation Square, we set our course there immediately. We crossed the river at the northern (I think? I literally had no sense of direction in Melbourne so we very well may have been going in a completely different direction) end of Southbank over a very old and very beautiful bridge to the figurative heart of Melbourne.
The square is an interesting area. It is where old and contemporary Melbourne seem to collide. Old buildings and churches sit side by side with the modern artsy building. The square also offered me a view of the facade of the historic Flinder’s Street Station. While my mum enjoyed the square, she found it a little too busy for her liking. I actually kind of liked the hubbub of the square- you could see there were so many people of different walks of life all hurrying through that square. As I said before- it was like the heart of the city and its lifeblood, it’s people, was continuously flowing through it and being pumped out to rest of the living city.
After our foray to Federation Square, we headed back to meet our trusty river-going vessel. The low floating boat was to take us on a scenic cruise up each reach of the river. First, we headed upstream. The leisurely pace was very relaxing, and we got some nice views of Melbourne’s botanic gardens, as well as the many sports stadiums in the city. Yet on this part of the cruise we also saw grimy overpasses and muddy river banks- a reminder that even Melbourne did have a less aesthetically pleasing side, like all cities.
After seeing the upstream section of the Yarra, we turned around and headed back downstream. After passing through Southbank again (which was fun to see from the water, especially with the dim winter sun and bright blue skies), we moved into the Harbour district (I think that is what it is called, note that it may have a different name). This area was characterized by upper class expensive looking high rises and million dollar boats and yachts. The homes along the water here gave a brief glimpse into the living conditions of the 1%. Some of those boats alone probably costed twice as much as our house. Eventually, this classy district gave way to the port. Yachts and charter boats had been replaced by giant container ships and tugboats. As someone who actually enjoys that “industrial port aesthetic”, I reveled in sight of huge silos and shipping crate loaders. There’s just something very raw and productive about them. At the end of the port is a huge bridge, which I have sadly forgotten the name of, but it was hard to miss as it was flanked by two monolithic support towers. The bridge marked the end of the upstream journey, and we headed back through the docks and the rich people to Southbank.
For the first time since we had arrived, we had some real time to rest and relax in the comfort of our room. After a nice nap we ventured out for a walk in the late afternoon, hoping to capitalize on the good weather. We went to look at the Penny Woodside- a 19th century tall ship that was on display at the Naval Museum. As a fan of pre-2oth century, it was cool to see the ship, which’s design incorporated the older style sailing masts and a somewhat more modern metal hull. It was a lovely afternoon as the sun went down- the clear blue skies meant a bright, clear orange sunset. As the sky faded cinematically from blue, to orange, to dusky purple and navy, and then finally to black, the lights of the city came to life, reflecting in the mirror like waters of the Yarra. Every light and every building was reflected almost perfectly in the still black water.
That evening we decided to watch a movie in our room- James Bond Casino Royal. I chose this film for obvious reasons- we were staying in a casino after all. Melbourne also has a modern James Bond-esque sort of feel, with its shining skyline and upper class atmosphere. It was easy to imagine a story of spies and espionage taking place in this modern city. Trying to emulate bond, I had a few drinks that evening (shaken, not stirred) and found myself unfortunately awake sometime after midnight very unwell in the bathroom. It seems long tiring days mixed with heavy alcohol do not mix.