Day 1,816 of Traveling the World | Melbourne & The Great Ocean Road, Australia | January 26, 2023

There’s the drive along the Riviera in France. Pacific Coast Highway along the California coast. The “Croatian Riviera” from Zadar to Dubrovnik. And now, we have experienced one of the other top coastal drives on the planet – Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Wow. The 150-mile road began as a way to employ returning servicemen from WWI. It follows the contours of the land, dipping to sea level to give access to beaches, and climbing to give stupendous views over the Bass Strait and the Great Southern Ocean. One of the biggest attractions is the Twelve Apostles, rocks that jut out of the water as temporary remnants of a retreating limestone coastline. Some fun info is provided beneath their photos!

Melbourne continues to fascinate. It is a very young, very vibrant city. Today is Australia Day, a national holiday, analogous to July 4 for Americans. All sorts of free food was available at Fed Square in the next block down from us. Free hot dogs, free chicken bowls, free smoothies, free coconut drinks, free ice cream, and free popcorn were all available. The lines for each were very very long, as you might imagine. If waiting in the sun for an hour or so wasn’t an issue, a free treat was yours! We have been here for 10 days, and we are starting to think that 10 days may be our new “normal” stay in a city. It gave us time to explore, take days off to recuperate, and find other places in the city to enjoy. The whole downtown has a free tram system – you just jump on or off wherever you wish. There are several markets, several urban shopping areas, retail shops and restaurants everywhere, and the city is known for great coffee – and rightly so! We found many museums as we walked, both free and modestly priced, as well as movie theaters and performance theaters. The Australian Open is just a 10-minute walk down the street. Not being sports fans, we didn’t even know it was taking place in Melbourne until people started asking if it was why we were here! We unknowingly keep booking hotels where there are major sporting events. One man commented – that may be because you follow summer around the world, and it caught up with you!

We also took our 30th Food Tour while here. “This is Melbourne” had a Street Eats tour, and we spent three hours with our guide, Martina, who started the company four years ago. The other clients on our tour cancelled, so it was just the three of us, eating some of the best Asian food that Melbourne has to offer while learning about the history of Australian immigration. We visited the National Gallery of Victoria here, along with ACMI, Australia’s museum of screen and film culture. There is so much to do! Alas, we have run out of days before running out of activities. That just means we will have to schedule another trip…..another year!

La Trobe Reading Room, State Library Victoria. Established in 1854, this was one of the first free libraries in the world and today is the fourth-most-visited in the world. It was beyond glorious to walk around this room and enjoy the light pouring in from the dome’s windows.
Another glorious ceiling, this time in stained glass, in the Cathedral Arcade shopping center.
Here, three passageways and their ceilings meet, and the stained glass is over-the-top crazy.
Degraves Street, one of Melbourne’s notable “laneways” that are busier than the main streets, jammed with cafes, restaurants, people, and street art!
Street art – Yalda Aghafalzi, arrested for protesting in Iran, freed on bail, and found dead two days later.
The green sculptural lightscape of St. Collins Lane Shopping Center in downtown Melbourne. Thousands of green LED glass bulbs are suspended from the ceiling, mimicking falling leaves.
A happy-face vase in the window of Monsterthreads.
…not chopping here?…
The watery entrance to the NGV – National Gallery Victoria.
…and more water falling down the window as you enter…
The Great Hall stained glass ceiling in the NGV – the reason we visited! It was created by Australian artist Leonard French, and it is absolutely stunning to see.
Out in the NGV garden is this “Temple of Boom,” based on the Parthenon, but in bright colors, and being constructed over the summer.
King Kong, looking ridiculous!
A beautiful, beautiful flower in the garden. We thought it was human-made for a few seconds, but it is real. Fabulous, right?
Uhhh….excuse me… “Exhibition” misspelled in a museum?? Hello!
Outside the NGV, along the entire median strip in the road, were a few dozen electronic birds. The screens were constantly changing, simulating the birds walking around. They were too cute.
The Forum Theater – can you find all seven gargoyles??
We stopped at a chocolate and ice cream shop on the Great Ocean Road and found these three chocolate kangaroos covered in ice cream and sprinkles.
Monument sign for the Great Ocean Road. We were warned not to take a photo from the middle of the road, as there have been several fatalities of people taking selfies. The houses on the hill are facing the ocean, of course, with great views.
THIS is the scene across the street from those houses!
Another beach scene along the road.
After passing lots of beaches, we entered a portion of rainforest on the Great Ocean Road named Melba Gully.
The Twelve Apostles – except there are only seven! These rock formations on the southern coast had been known as “Sow and Piglets,” named in 1798. BUT – they were renamed The Twelve Apostles in the 20th century, since it sounds more solemn, plus too many people thought they were going to see animals!
Loch Ard Gorge – two more “Apostles” up the road a ways!
The beautiful colors of the rock strata – plus the two formations in the very middle formed their own triangular hats!
In the small town of Apollo Bay is a decadent ice cream store. Check out the names! Chili Choc – Unicorn Poo – and the dread Vegemite. Now, vegemite is very very salty. Sadly, we will never know what it tastes like as ice cream, since we aren’t in love with it like Australians are!
East Melbourne Fire Station mural. We are guessing that this is Prometheus.
The gorgeous building is Flinders Train Station. The day is Australia Day. The boisterous crowd is listening to speeches, and occasionally clapping and cheering.
Free smoothies! But to blend them, they asked (mostly) children to pedal to power the blender on the front to make the smoothie!
Out in Aussie splendor in Fed Square on Australian Day.
There was a flyover that lasted about 20 minutes.
We stopped and talked to these guys for a couple of minutes when we saw that they were sitting in a “Ladies Only” waiting area. They were electricians working in the area. We don’t think they knew how the area was designated, but when we pointed it out, one of them told us not to make any assumptions about their gender based on their appearance.
Wow. Just wow. Not ever seen in the US of A.
???? Rabbits.
A beautifully decorated, eclectic restaurant where we tried some Thai treats on our Food Tour.
Meet Martina, our Food Tour guide. This was duck salad.
The Shrine of Remembrance, honoring all Australians who have served in war.
This bright orange canopy, a commissioned art piece, celebrates outdoor life in Melbourne (Queen Victoria Gardens).
Pho a Gogo. Sounds a little 60s, but it does rhyme.
We saw this building as we walked across the street, and we wondered how on earth you have the four elements as one entity in one establishment? But if you had an apartment on the top floor, you might never find it necessary to leave the building.
How playful!
Again – how playful!
We know! We just didn’t expect to be told in a shoe store!

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