We’d heard about Melbourne having all the seasons in one day. We soon found out why. We first woke to find the weather really nice and sunny – a typical Australian heat.
We didn’t have anything planned so we decided to go into the town centre to have a little look around and have lunch/dinner. The kind lady at our park reception told us that to get to town, we’d either have to get the tram or bus – neither of which took actual money. They have their own Oyster type tap-on card called the Myke. So, we walked in the opposite direction to the tram stop to buy a couple of these cards from the local 7Eleven. We’d not seen 7Elevens since Thailand so it brought back a lot of memories – for me, mainly the sun and also the tasty cheese and sausage rolls I used to eat from there and the extra large raspberry Fantas for £1 – Stef always had the pizza or sea food toasted sandwhich. Mmmmmm! The cards cost us £3 each and we topped them up with enough money for a one-day travel card, which again was the equivalent of £3 each.
It wasn’t a modern tram like the ones back home, I wouldn’t say it was old, just a classic. The trams run on the same roads as the cars so unlike the ones back home, they can get caught in traffic jams. The odd thing about them is though, that sometimes they stop in the middle of the road to pick up passengers, leaving the inside lane open for the cars. The cars stop behind it and let the people cross when the tram stops. We didn’t see any accidents and everyone seemed to respect the tram. God knows how many accidents and law suits there would be at home if it stopped in the same way!
We got off in the Melbourne CBD area. Neither of us know what that is, but it was where all the action was (possibly Central Business District?). After walking around for a while and looking at the same shops they have at home, we found a lovely little pub called the Charles Dickens Tavern. Luckily, it had free Wi-Fi. Even more lucky for me, I had taken my laptop in my bag – it was always my plan to find somewhere with Wi-Fi, all I had to do was to sweeten Stef up with a bit of shopping first.
It was modelled on a London pub and reminded us of home. We sat in there for a few hours and I had a couple of pints of Stella. It tasted the same but dented the wallet more – It was about £7 per pint! I don’t think they are even that expensive in London! It got to dinnertime and we treated ourselves to fish and chips and a beef and Guinness pie.
We headed back to the van and it started to get cold. Later that night, it also started to rain. Then back to being a little warm. Then back to raining and cold. All we needed was snow and we’d have the whole set.
The next day, we visited the Old Melbourne Gaol. This was Stef’s idea. She is addicted to visiting prisons and every town we go to there’s one that we should see.
This however, is quite an important jail. It housed the famous Ned Kelly. He was a mad man who wore a metal bucket over his head and had a shoot out with the police. You can either Google him or wait for a few blogs and read Stef’s entry when we visit his statue. Him and his gang killed police and innocent people, however, now he’s a national treasure. We got to the ex-prison and in the souvenir shop, you could buy everything Ned related. Masks, beer coolers, fridge magnets and of course, metal spoons. Everything had his face plastered over it. Well, I say face, it was more his bucket head.
The tickets cost about £15 each and gained you access to the prison and also the experience of being treated like a convict and thrown in a cell. Great.
The prison was more or less the same as the rest – small cells and grim walkways. It did however, have a feature I hadn’t seen in others – the rope and trap door where they hung naughty people. This was the dying place of Ned and many others. It was even used in the film Ned Kelly, staring Mick Jagger.
In each cell they had stories and facts about the prison and the residents. They even had death masks of those that were killed by the rope. After death, the masks were made using the heads of the dead and were displayed. Ned’s was there. He seemed a nice bloke.
Prison walk over, we waited outside a door with others to be treated like convicts at the Watch House. It was a charging and holding lockup, used from 1908 till 1994. It was a place where drunks, murderers and those charged with minor offences were housed until their court date. I didn’t know what it would be like. If it were back home, I’d probably be given the newest Xbox and a choice of the most violent video games, but as the year of the experience was to be set in the early 1900s, it was going to be a bit different.
A woman police sergeant opened the door and immediately started shouting at us for our tickets. She was very scary. We were marched in and separated into two lines, male and female. We were all given cards that had our new names and the crimes we had committed. I had committed the offence of shoplifting – grabbing items from a jeweller and legging it. Stef on the other hand, had been arrested for cultivating illegal substances. Typical. We all had to explain what we had done to the sergeant and talk to them in a “yes Sergeant, no Sergeant” way. Having been used to this in the police, it was easy for me and when it was my turn to talk, I did it with ease. Unlike some of the other convicts I was with. No respect. We were asked various questions and it really felt like some booking in procedure to get us into the cells. After this, we were all lined up in a dirty corridor and searched. It made me feel dirty – like the convict I was!
All the men were then placed in a cell and the women in another. There were about 6 men in my cell. At one point, the lights went out. I know what sort of funny business happens in prisons so my bum didn’t leave my bench! Back in the days, there would be up to 15 men in one cell. At 2030 hours, the lights would go out for the night. If you were placed into the cell after then, you couldn’t tell who was in your cell as it was pitch black. Very scary. Oh, and there was one toilet visible to all (when the lights were on) and the flush was outside and controlled by the police!
After our traumatic experience, we were all reunited and allowed to walk around the Watch house. They had a padded cell that looked comfortable. The nutters would be placed in there naked and would be on their own. To be honest, I think I would pull the mental card. Sure, it meant being naked, but at least you’d have soft floors to sleep on and would be on your own. I’m sure if you were a pretty boy in the main cell you’d end up naked anyway whether you liked it or not!
We had our mug shots taken and were freed into the public. Tour over.
Next up was a short walk away. The Eureka Tower. I was more interested in the 88th floor, the Skydeck. It is the highest public vantage point in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere at 984 ft. Due to Stef not being able to walk up a kerb without getting cold sweats; I went up on my own. The lift took a matter of seconds, travelling at 9 metres a second – also the fastest in the Southern Hemisphere. Up there, you could see for miles. Along with the view was the highest post box in Australia.
Stef had read about another building which they say just had to be seen. We made our way to the Honeycomb building with high hopes. It turned out, after a short walk, to be a small building with honeycomb shaped window. Nothing special, as we had been seeing weird and wonderful buildings all day!