We are staying in Melbourne post cruise for a few days, so taking one of the ship’s tours today will hopefully give us some ideas for places to visit in more depth. The Yarra River cruise with downtown drive and visit to Capt Cook’s cottage in Fitzroy Gardens looked like it would hit a great selection of attractions. So we both signed up.
After breakfast, we returned to the cabin, getting armed with everything required for the tour – cameras, water bottles, sun glasses, etc. Report time was 08:45 in the Wheelhouse Bar, and shortly after we arrived the tour was called and we were off to the gangway and the bus.
We only had about 20 of us on the tour and it was a full sized bus, which helped the comfort, as most couples had separate rows rather than cramming into the double seats. The tour guide was excellent, providing lots of great information, including proudly introducing Melbourne as the world’s most liveable city. During the scenic drive to downtown, we noted nice wide streets with grassy, tree lined boulevards. Being used to gridlocked streets in Greater Vancouver, we were pleasantly surprised by the lack of traffic throughout the day. No gridlock seen in Melbourne, mind you it was Sunday.
An example of the wide tree lined grassy boulevards
The tour guide also mentioned that in the downtown core all trams are free, which certainly helps ease the congestion. Maybe Vancouver should try this, so we can actually compete for the number one spot.
Downtown trams and complete lack of congestion
The first stop on the tour was out front of the National Gallery of Victoria, where we disembarked the bus for the short walk to the river cruise. We had a few extra minutes to spare so had an opportunity to check out the local area.
National Gallery of Victoria and water feature
Melbourne Arts Centre, which is next to the National Gallery
Grassy area behind the Arts Centre with stalls being set up for the Sunday Market
Arriving at the Southbank promenade we headed down to the river next to the oldest bridge in Melbourne, dating from the 1850”s
Melbourne’s oldest bridge
Looking down the Yarra River from Southbank, with our boat approaching the dock
Once alongside, we boarded the boat for our Yarra River cruise. The boat was rather basic, with rows of plastic seats in a cabin with floor to ceiling windows, and a small outside viewing area at the aft end. Judi sat inside and listened to the commentary. I stayed out on the open deck with a couple of other chaps, which was best place for photographs.
View of downtown Melbourne from the open deck at the stern of the boat
Just prior to departure we noted a couple of canoes pass under the bridge behind the boat, which followed closely behind us the entire trip upriver. That was an impressive feat, as they were heading upstream and also matched our speed.
Canoes approaching as we departed the dock
Once away from the dock we passed under Melbourne’s oldest bridge heading upriver towards the Olympic Stadiums, which were built for the Olympic Games in the 1960’s.
Wide angle shot of both banks of the Yarra River shortly after clearing Melbourne’s oldest bridge
We continued upriver along the banks of the Yarra River with the many stadiums on the port side. The next photograph was taken once we rounded the first bend in the river and were alongside the Rod Laver tennis arena.
Looking downriver from Olympic Park with canoes keeping pace
The next few photos are a selection of those taken on the cruise
One of the many picnic benches and BBQ’s that line the banks of the river
Approaching one of the older bridges at a bend in the river
Not only is this Melbourne’s tallest building, it is also tallest in the Southern Hemisphere
On completion of the cruise we re-boarded the bus for a drive around downtown Melbourne, passing 2 cathedrals, parliament building, numerous theatres and multiple stadiums in Olympic Park. The biggest being Melbourne Cricket Ground, which was the 3rd largest stadium in the world, when it was built.
Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG)
Once complete with the downtown drive we headed to Fitzroy Gardens, which is the home of Capt Cook’s cottage, or more correctly his parent’s cottage. The cottage was originally built in a small village in England, UK that was located in the vicinity of Hull and Middlesborough. In the 1930’s, when the cottage was listed for sale, a wealthy resident offered $2,000 to purchase the property and move it to Melbourne. Many obstacles were overcome, including a stipulation by the original owners that the cottage remain in UK. With negotiation, this was amended to state the cottage must remain within the British Empire. The cottage was surveyed and deconstructed, with each block being catalogued. It was packaged and shipped to Hull Docks, where it was loaded upon a ship for the voyage to Melbourne. On arrival Melbourne the cottage was re-constructed to match the original. The following photographs are from outside and inside the cottage.
Even the original ivy had some clippings saved and replanted in Melbourne
Front of Capt Cook’s cottage
Upstairs bedroom, which was attached to the living room
Judi in the garden at the rear of the cottage
Andy & Judi at the Capt Cook statue beside the cottage
The Capt Cook cottage only takes up a small portion of Fitzroy Gardens, which encompass many hundreds of acres and is laid out resembling the Union Jack. In addition to the cottage we also visited a glass ceiling building, known as the Conservatory.
The glass roof conservatory adjacent to Capt Cook’s cottage
Judi on the bridge over the pond in the Conservatory
The Conservatory is warm and humid, with a water feature and good selection of plants and flowers.
Statue inside the Conservatory
Heading back to the bus we noticed a group of people sitting quietly on the lawn and when walking passed we noted it was a free drop in meditation session. From the photo below you can see it was fairly well attended.
Fitzroy Gardens meditation group
One of the many gardens with an Aloe Vera plant. Also note the English Elm trees along the street, which all have a band applied around the trunks to keep the local possums away. The possums enjoy the new shoots, which would damage the trees.
Our final stop was at the Shrine of Remembrance, a fitting reminder of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice during the many wars and conflicts. This is more than a Cenotaph and was a very moving experience, especially as a ceremony remembering those lost during the war in Crete.
Entrance stairs to the Shrine of Remembrance
You can enter the building and climb up to an external balcony that circles the structure. It is a considerable hike up to the balcony, probably at least 150 stairs from the bottom, but the views made it worth the effort. Judi took a rain check, as we only had 20 minutes, so she checked out the basement displays.
View from the external balcony looking towards downtown Melbourne. If you enlarge the photograph you will notice that one of the buildings in the background contains a face, which is that of the last aboriginal.
I found this memorial garden an excellent segue to the day after Istanbul, when we cruise by the site of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli and the Captain will hold a remembrance service.
The Shrine of Remembrance not only remembers the loss of human life, it also has a memorial to the many horses used in battle and never returned.
Lastly, a memorial to those most affected by the loss of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, is the widows and children left behind. They had a very nice memorial set within a bed of flowers in the shape of a cross.
Widow and children memorial
This concluded our tour, so we piled back aboard the bus for the short trip back to the ship. An excellent first tour and very informative, seeing a number of places that we want to visit again when we return to Melbourne post cruise.