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Archive for history

Squeezing in a Melbourne mini-break

Melbourne is the second most populated city in Australia, and it’s also steeped in history – so it was natural progression for us to make a quick trip here from Sydney.

Like Sydney, Melbourne is an interesting mix of old and new

Like Sydney, Melbourne is an interesting mix of old and new

The city is set in the state of Victoria, which has an interesting background. It’s in this state that Australia’s most infamous criminal – Ned Kelly – lived and ultimately died. Ned was what’s known as a ‘bushranger’ – killing policemen and robbing banks. He became Australia’s most wanted man and, when he was eventually caught and sentenced to death, he became a legend.

The Old Melbourne Gaol gives a lot of information about Ned Kelly and other notorious Victoria citizens

The Old Melbourne Gaol gives a lot of information about Ned Kelly and other notorious Victoria citizens. The bottom left image is a cast of Ned’s death mask.

We decided to visit the Old Gaol in Melbourne, which is where the captured Ned was taken to be tried and sentenced. Before looking around the museum we managed to join in a tour (acted out by fellow tourists with the help of guides) which explained how Kelly’s case played out.

Watching the action play out (we were acting as members of the public watching from the gallery)

Watching the action play out (we were acting as members of the public watching from the gallery)

When we made it into the Gaol I was surprised to find the hanging trapdoor that was used to kill Kelly and others, still on display.

The trapdoor where Ned, and others, were hanged. The empty rope (added for effect?) was particularly chilling

The trapdoor where Ned, and others, were hanged. The empty rope (added for effect?) was particularly chilling. I had shivers run down my spine just looking at it!

Dale couldn't resist the opportunity to play dress up...

Dale couldn’t resist the opportunity to play dress up…

While we were in the Gaol, we’d heard that Ned’s famous armour was on permanent display in the nearby State Library of Victoria – so we popped in for a quick visit there too!

The armour on display on the left, the real manifesto written by Kelly's gang top right and a gun believed to be Kelly's (his initials are carved into it) bottom right

The armour on display on the left, the real manifesto written by Kelly’s gang in the top right image, and a gun believed to be Kelly’s (his initials are carved into it) in the bottom right.

While we were in Melbourne, we were fortunate enough to meet someone who worked behind the scenes at national TV station, Channel 10. She very kindly invited into the studio audience of a live show called Project 10 and then gave us a quick tour of the studios, which was a fantastic and unexpected experience!

I think we look like pretty good presenters. I would watch me!

I think we look like pretty good presenters. I would watch me!

Dale, a huge sports fan, was disappointed not to be able to see a cricket match at the MCG while we were in Melbourne, but he was able to take a tour of the impressive grounds.

The famous MCG

The famous MCG

We also got to watch some of the sporting talent in the city for free because the Australian Open tennis tournament happened to be setting up while we were in town – so we saw some hopefuls having a quick practice on the courts before the tournament began.

This lady (not sure who it is) was practising her truly impressive serve

This lady (not sure who it is) was practising her truly impressive serve

Melbourne is great for those with large wallets as there is plenty of trendy bars, cafes and restaurants to spend all your money in – not having a huge amount of dollars left at that point, we were sticking to mostly free activities.

The war memorial is worth a look

The war memorial is worth a look

One of these was to take in Melbourne’s natural features – such as its Botanic Gardens…

Like Sydney's gardens, it was amazing to be in a green haven that is surrounded by skyscrapers!

Like Sydney’s gardens, it was amazing to be in a green haven that is surrounded by skyscrapers!

…and the Beach where, if you’re lucky, you can see ‘fairy’ penguins (the same as the Blue Penguins we had seen in New Zealand) waddle up the beach at sunset.

We didn't hang around long enough to see the penguins, but lots of people were there waiting for them

We didn’t hang around long enough to see the penguins, but lots of people were there waiting for them

Melbourne was an interesting and vibrant city with lots of things to see and do. I’m not sure we were able to make the most of it – as cash strapped as we were – but I was glad that we managed to fit it in, considering we hadn’t planned on visiting.