Sunday, November 18, 2018

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is the located in the southeastern part of Australia.  It is 465 km (289 miles) from Canberra and 713 km (443 miles) from Sydney.

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and the great metro area is home to 5 million people making it the second largest city in both Australia and Oceania.

Melbourne was founded in 1835 and in 1847 Queen Victoria declared it a city.  It became one of the world's wealthiest cities due to the 1850s gold rush in Victoria.  In 1901 it became the interim capital of Australia until Canberra became the permanent capital in 1927.

Melbourne Town Hall was completed in 1887.

St. Paul's Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral.  It was completed in 1891.

The Old Melbourne Gaol opened in 1845 and closed in 1924.  The former prison is now a museum.

The Eight Hour Day Monument was erected in 1903.  It champions workers' rights by supporting 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of recreation and education.

The Victoria State Library opened in 1854.  It is the country's oldest public library and one of the first free libraries in the world.

The Scots' Church was founded in 1838.  It was the first Presbyterian church built in Victoria.

The Melbourne City Synagogue was consecrated in 1877 making it the oldest in the city.

The Royal Society of Victoria was formed in 1854.

The Queen Victoria Market is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere.  

The City Baths were built in 1903.  The purpose was to get people to stop bathing in the Yarra River.

St. James Old Cathedral is an Anglican church and it is the city's oldest church.  It was dedicated in 1847 and it is one of only three buildings in the city that predates the 1851 gold rush.

The Royal Exhibition Building was completed in 1880.  In 2004 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Regent Theatre opened in 1929.  It closed in 1970 but finally reopened in 1996.

Melbourne Museum opened in 2000 and it is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere.  It is home to the world's largest IMAX theatre screen.

Chinatown is in the CBD.  It came about during the gold rush and it is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World.

The Museum of Chinese Australian History was established in 1985.  It was refurbished in 2010 and since then it also acts as the local visitor centre.

Parliament House opened in 1856 but wasn't completed until 1929.  It serves as parliament for Victoria but it was the country's parliament from 1901 to 1927.

Princess Bridge opened in 1888 and crosses the Yarra River.

The Block Arcade opened in 1892.  It is one of the most popular shopping arcades in the city.

Great Petition was unveiled in 2008 to commemorate 100 years of women's suffrage in Victoria.

The Lutheran Trinity Church was built in 1874.  Surprisingly most of the church services here are in German.

Marvel Stadium opened in 2000.  It is home to The Australian Football League.

St. Patrick's Cathedral is the Catholic cathedral and it was consecrated in 1897. In 1986 it was made a Minor Basilica.  It is the largest church building in Australia.

Melbourne is a great city.  It has a very European feel to it which I guess makes sense as it has a large Italian community as well as the largest Greek-speaking population outside of Greece.

Melbourne has the world's largest urban tram network and it is often ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the world.  For me it's the architecture that stands out.  Every modern building is unique and intersects with more historic buildings.

And no visit to Melbourne is complete without doing the Great Ocean Road.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Great Barrier Reef Cruise, Australia

On Thursday, I checked off another bucket list item - visit the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef, located in the Coral Sea, is off the east coast of Australia.  It's made up of more than 2900 individual reefs, and 900 islands, stretching over 2300 km (1400 miles) covering about 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 square miles).

The Great Barrier Reef is home to more than 1500 species of fish.  CNN lists it as one of the seven natural wonders of the world and in 1981 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our ship went out to Hastings Reef which is about 30 nautical miles (55,5 km) from Cairns.  Hastings Reef is about a 10 square km (about 4 square mile) area that's perfect for scuba diving and snorkelling.

Climate change and coral bleaching are a big problem.  More than half of the coral has been lost since 1985.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Kuranda Railway Tour, Australia

The Kuranda Scenic Railway Tour is a great day trip.  The day begins at the Freshwater train station, about 10 km (6 miles) from Cairns, where you board the historic train.

The rail line was built between 1913 - 1915.  The train ride provides some spectacular views on the way to Kuranda.

Along the way, there's a stop at Barron Falls to take photos of the waterfall.

Kuranda is a small rainforest village.  

I was there on 11 November during the Armistice Day memorial.

There are a number of things to do in town including visits to the Tjupakai Aboriginal Cultural Park and the Rainforestation Nature Park.

The way down is on the cablecar with great views of the rain forest.  I'm still not wild about heights but I made it.

There are two stops on the way down where you can explore the rain forest. 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cairns, Australia

Cairns is located in Queensland roughly 1961 km (1218 miles) from Sydney.  Cairns is a provincial city and home to almost 145,000 people.  Cairns is the 5th largest city in Queensland and the 14th largest in Australia.

The tropical climate, surrounding rainforest, and the Great Barrier Reef makes Cairns the 4th most popular destination for international tourists after Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

Cairns was founded in 1876 and served the gold miners of the time.  Later on it became a major port exporting sugar cane and gold.

The War Memorial was built in 1925 to honour those lost in WWI.  When it was built, due to the clock, it was the most expensive soldier statue memorial in Queensland.

The Bishop's House was built in 1930.  Originally it was a Catholic monastery.

The former town hall was built in 1930.  In 1999 it was reopened as the Cairns City Library.

The trees surrounding the library is home to a nursing colony of spectacled flying foxes, which is the fancy way of saying bats.  You hear them screeching during the day and see them fly in packs at night.

St. Monica's War Memorial Cathedral was consecrated in 1968.  It is the only cathedral in Cairns.

The Cairns Aquarium is the world's only aquarium dedicated exclusively to the species and habitats of North Queensland.

The Cairns School of Arts was completed in 1941.  Today it is the local history museum.

The former post office building, in the central business district, was built in 1882.

The Night Market has more than 70 shops with lots of souvenir stalls.  There's a great food court too.

There's a historic Chinatown but the memorial for it seems bigger than the actual Chinatown.

The promenade makes for a nice walk.  Surprisingly, there's no real swimming beach area to speak of.

The lagoon is a free public swimming pool where people sunbathe on the grass.

I can tell you that the sun is quite strong in November.  After just a couple of hours and I looked like the flag of Austria.

The Kuranda Scenic Railway makes for a great day trip to see the local tropical rainforest.

No visit is complete without visiting the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Update:  There was a record heat wave on 26-27 November.  Temperatures went over 42℃ (+107℉) and almost ⅓ of of the country's bats perished.  The bats were annoying but it's sad that about 23.000 bats dropped dead.