Today was impromptu, we woke up very early thanks to the 7pm bedtime the night before. For $7 we headed to St. Kilda beach on the tram which is only 20 minutes out from the centre of the city. There are quite a few Herberts in and around Melbourne we’ve noticed. By this I mean stereotypical travellers who are doing all they can to ‘fit in’ with the locals and the culture, when really they look like an eyesore and even the locals are questioning their sanity. Pairs of twenty somethings in backward wearing hats and John Lennon shaped sunglasses, draped in shabby fitting tops and dresses looking more try-hard than diehard Australian. Embarrassingly you can tell from a mile away that these individuals are British. Scattered across the beach were quite a few of these individuals who are also mostly found as staff at the bars and restaurants in the surrounding area – there’s hope for us after all!
We strolled down to the end of the pier heading towards the little blue penguins that nest in the rocks. It was only about 2pm, the sun was still hot and the parent penguins were still far from appearing from the sea to nest with their young, so we se up camp for our homemade picnic of crisp sandwiches and rich tea biscuits. Only when Adam was being his inquisitive self did we realise that we were sat on a wooden walkway that was housing 2 baby penguins sheltering in the shade. We got a couple of photos and made our way down the sand for ice cream as the ‘penguin return’ wasn’t until sunset (8pm). 1 ice cream and 2 Peroni’s later we are back at the wooden walkway awaiting the arrival of more penguins – as the night continued more tourists arrived, then more, then Australians even arrived having never seen the penguins before. Quickly we realised that this event wasn’t about us seeing the penguins, but more the penguins struggling to find a safe route to beach and waddle back to their babies on shore. The walkway on which everyone was stood is placed hovering over the sand connecting the rocks and the sand, so the penguins are expected to walk towards and under the tourists to safety – a difficult feat when everyone of those tourists is armed with a camera and an eagerness to capture their sheer vulnerability on the beach. We felt too guilty so up and left before the penguins arrived, we’d seen the babies earlier in the day in a more comfortable environment so were happy with that. There are day tours to Philip Island for around $130 which is an alternative spot to see the penguins come in land for the evening, we’ve heard this is a more controlled environment for the penguins, but no doubt still daunting.
Heading back from the beach on the tram at 9pm meant we had our latest evening yet! On the walk home we made sure to go via Fitzroy Gardens in the dark and sure enough, POSSUMS!!! Little, round, lemur type animals with strange tails. They are surprisingly friendly and came relatively close to us. Finally, the wait was over, we know where the possums are! Bed at 11:30pm after a home cooked (by Will) chicken curry and a glass of questionable white wine we were asleep.
The late night meant a late morning, we slept through until 10:30am, still averaging 10 hours sleep means we’re far from acclimatising. We decided to walk into the Central Business District and find the ionic graffiti spots that we’d learnt about along our way so far. There are a lot of lanes and arcades in the centre that we had already walked past numerous times, oblivious to what was just around the corner. The graffiti was extremely colourful and on mass. There were quite literally hundreds of pieces overlapping each other, which we were told by one artist who had just complete his cardinal bird, that “it will be tagged over within a day or two”. It was crazy to see such an easy-going ethos towards those graffiti-ing on the walls, but we noticed that apart from those designated lanes, the walls in Melbourne were plain and unmarked – almost like an unwritten rule that you can paint anywhere within those parameters but nowhere else. We plan to go back in a day or two and see what the lane looks like now, by estimation it should look entirely different after new artists have painted over the previous art of only a couple days old.
We walked through the lanes instead of the beaten paths and saw quite a few quiant cafes and small boutiques that we wouldn’t have otherwise known about. We also found the stores at the other end of the spectrum – Prada, Gucci, Chanel – Natalie and I hinted at the guys for gifts but I think that fell on deaf ears!
We also spent time at the State Library where we went to the 5th floor for a look around the free galleries and the view down into atrium where current students from the city were busy working hard. We had our picnic today sat outside the library on the grass watching an outdoor chess game that was extremely tense between two strangers. Will and Adam had figured out a few ways throughout the game in which to check mate either one of the players, but in the end a stale-mate was agreed.
We returned for a swim in the pool and to lay out in the sun on the rooftop terrace – inclusive of our accommodation this week. Homemade sweet and sour chicken for dinner, the rest of the questionable wine and it’s already midnight. Maybe we are acclimatising after all!
The boys have the tv set to switch itself on at 7am in-time for the Liverpool game which kicks off in the UK at 8pm on Wednesday, no doubt tomorrow’s alarm clock will be of them gesticulating at the screen – hopefully positively! We hope for more signs of wildlife tomorrow as we head for a trek in forests not too far from Melbourne. Today we saw sulphur-crested cockatoo’s in Fitzroy park, and some more lorikeets!