Symphonies and special effects

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular: Sold Out said the poster in front of the Melbourne Town Hall. Take that, dead boring classical composers!

That’s what a childhood of exposure to ABC Classic FM has done to me. Oh dear, I hope Alex won’t think the same of film music one day…
No such problems right now! We were walking along Swanston Street as noisy earthmoving equipment churned up the tram tracks beside us. It was incredible to think the trams would be running again in a couple of days time.

Our destination was Federation Square and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI). Fed Square is a devisive piece of architecture, a jumble of metal panels at odds with the old architecture of St Paul’s Cathedral and Flinders Street Station that surround it. I like it. It houses SBS broadcasting, the Australian collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, a place I had discovered on my last visit and now wanted to share with B.

ACMI houses a free permanent exhibition called Screen Worlds which contains interactive displays about film, television and computer games through the ages, with a focus on Australian productions. Everyone enjoyed it, Alex even learning to play Pong and watching old Playschool and Bananas in Pyjamas.
He was getting sleepy and, consequently, a bit cranky by the time we left Fed Square. We wandered towards the Yarra River, crossing over to Southbank where we had a fairly uninspiring lunch in the food court while he spent most of the time sleeping. From there we walked west along the river, past the Crown Casino and down to the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre.
There were some great views of the city skyline. I recalled how much it had changed since I was a kid. The three towers that had made the skyline so distinctive when viewed from a distance were now dwarfed by so many other skyscrapers on both sides of the river.

One of the things I really like about central Melbourne is that wherever you turn there is sculpture, art and interesting design. We stopped briefly to watch a contortionist busk, then continued on until we reached the Exhibition Centre. There were gift and swimming pool shows on, but the crowds that walked down the long atrium were obviously there for the concert, decked out in costumes and logoed t-shirts.

The concert really was spectacular and we all enjoyed it thoroughly; my blog entry has more details.

Docked outside of the Convention Centre was the Polly Woodside, a 19th Century barque that I had visited more than once as a child. The whole area was bringing back memories, despite its obvious redevelopment. I always associated the view to the west, towards the Westgate bridge and the docks with travel. I would think of Spencer Street Station, now Southern Cross, and of boarding a sleeping car in the Overland on a journey to Adelaide. That was my dream journey when I lived in Melbourne, one that has resonated ever since.

We crossed the river and caught the historic, and free, City Circle Tram. Recorded commentary played as we trundled down towards the redeveloped Docklands, an area I don’t think I have ever visited before. Then back up past Melbourne Central and around Nicholson Street, learning new things about the city. I was intending to let Alex have a run in the Fitzroy Gardens, with its playground, miniature Tudor village and Fairy Tree, but we jumped off at Parliament when we say a fountain in a park.

Naturally, he slipped over and got all wet. Luckily we had a spare set of clothes in my bag.

Opposite the park was the Princess Theatre, then further down the Parliament Building and Windsor Hotel. We walked past them to another fountain, but as the hour was getting late, decided to head back down along Collins Street for dinner, sipping on a slurpee while Alex ate a Paddlepop.

Collins Street is definitely the domain of the wealthy shopper, but the architecture and trees made it an attractive stroll. I felt as if I were displaced a few decades. No matter how it changes I can still feel the echoes of my childhood in Melbourne.

We had walked past Petaling Street, ostensibly a Malaysian hawker food restaurant in Swanston Street, during the morning. Despite eating Malaysian food the night before we went in. First Jalan Alor, now Petaling Street, this was Kuala Lumpur from last November. The food was pretty good, though the roti canai was not up to scratch. We overordered and had to take char kway teoh (noodles) back in a doggy bag. The real disappointment was discovering that they had opened a branch in Sydney. One less excuse to go down to Melbourne…

As we walked back along Elizabeth Street we passed Coconut King, another Malaysian eatery that looked pretty busy, only a few hundred metres from our hotel. I like the fact that Melbourne University and RMIT are so close to the centre of Melbourne. It means that you can get good food at very reasonable prices right in the CBD.
Back in the hotel Alex amused himself by playing with paper from the hotel room notepad and some cardboard. He has a fantastic imagination.