Captain FlindersMoving from one part of the world to another, such as I have recently done, would generally precipitate some sightseeing. I love seeing new things. I like taking pictures and exploring. But I also loathe walking around looking like a tourist, which is why I put off checking out some of the parts of Melbourne for so long.

For one weekend each year, the City of Melbourne opens its doors of it’s treasures to locals and tourists a like. Open House Melbourne is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who likes looking at things of public and historic significance to do a little exploring of their own. This year, between 26-27 July, the city opened up dozens of buildings across Melbourne and the CBD for people to check out, free of charge. They do this every year and I strongly recommend that anyone visiting Melbourne try and align their trip with this event.

I originally only heard about Open House through the church that I’ve started attending. They have special programming for people who are new to the city to get together and find out what’s around (or “What’s on” as Australians would say). I had originally intended to meet with a group  of church folk who I didn’t know so we could go around and see together, but I got there late and I missed meeting up with them. Not to be put out by this, I did what I am naturally inclined to do anyway: go exploring by myself.

Since the group I was going to meet up with was originally set to meet in front of Melbourne Town Hall, I decided to start there. It’s a colossal building that is generally closed to the public for sightseeing, since there is important (I assume) governing going on. The tour was self-guided, so I just sort of moseyed around and took it all in. It was a lovely building, as you will be able to tell from all the photos that I took. In addition to taking in the fantastic architectural details, I also went on a quest to see how many images of kangaroos I could find. There were quite a few.

Town Hall
One of the really neat things was the concert hall, which they had open. They had an organist in to play the big pipe organ and I think I sat there for about thirty minutes just listening to the giant thing blast Bach. It was awesome. Since the tour was mostly self-guided, I didn’t get that much on the history of the building. They had some people there giving short lectures, but it was packed and I didn’t stick around for long. As I’ve already mentioned in other posts, I do not like crowds.

Town Hall
I eventually headed out of Town Hall and decided to do some more adventuring. Unfortunately, by this point the true Melbourne weather had kicked in, so it was raining and extra windy. Note: Melbourne is always windy. Just all the time. Windy. Since I was only moderately prepared for rain (raincoat, no umbrella) and I didn’t want to ruin my new camera, I decided to go and check out the next closest things. Across the street was the Manchester Unity Building, which is pretty interesting. You can read up on it and do the virtual tour here. It was not open on the day I went out, so I didn’t go inside, but it looked really neat.

Manchester Unity Building
Instead, I ventured down the street to the next-closest architectural marvel I could find – St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s the big Anglican cathedral on Flinders Street. The cathedral itself started construction in 1880, though there had long been a church on that property, and continued construction on and off through the 1920’s when they put on the spires. It was open, so I decided to pop in and check it out. Cathedrals and old churches are basically my favorite thing ever, so I always make a point to go and check them out everywhere I go.

I was kind of naughty and I took pictures inside, which wasn’t prohibited but kind of discouraged. It was too pretty for me not to, and besides, I had to start getting used to all the settings on my new camera! The inside was just lovely and it had some really beautiful stained glass windows.

St. Paul's
When I had taken pictures of everything there was to take pictures of, I decided to head out. At the intersection of there is the main train station (Flinders Street Station, named after Capt. Flinders himself) and Federation Square. I didn’t go over to Federation Square because it was really starting to rain at that point and because Fed Square is a hideous concrete catastrophe that wasn’t worth getting wet over. I will probably go back down there when it’s warmer out.

Federation Square
Since I was already wandering around with my camera out, taking pictures of sidewalks and trees, I figured I might as well get on with some of the other touristy things. Namely, I went souvenir shopping for things I don’t need with money I don’t have. I bought myself some keychains (boomerang! wombat!) and an Australian flag before heading back. I also stopped in my new favorite Australian store, Typo, where I bought myself a bobble-head Snoopy. Yes. Because I totally needed one of those.  He’s actually staring at me right now, bobbling away on my desk, as I write this. Very important for my blogging mojo, which has been extremely diminished of late now that classes have started.

All in all, it was a pretty good sightseeing adventure. I didn’t get around to see as much as I would have liked, but I’ll look forward to Open House next year. After all, I am only 1/24 into my Australian adventure and I still have plenty of time to check things out. I expect to do more when summer finally gets here.

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