Day 118 New Years Day
We see in New Year again as the clock strikes midnight back home in England and it is evident that Mark should not be driving today. Public transport is running to a Saturday timetable so we decide to take the tram out to St Kilda for an afternoon on the beach.
The first tram drops us at Flinders Street station where we pick up another out to the esplanade at St Kilda. The streets are quiet as revellers recover from last night's celebrations and we easily find seats on the trams. A 30-minute journey takes us out to the coast and we get off at the coast.
The views of the city centre are great, the sky scrapers standing out in the distance and we are able to see the headland at Williamstown across the bay. Crossing the road and down the steps to the foreshore we pass through the pool complex to the beach. The beach is golden but narrow and unfortunately cannot compare to the wonderful beaches we have already visited in Australia.
To the south we can see the gaping mouth of Mr Moon welcoming us into Luna Park, an old-style amusement park which has stood on this site since 1912. Nevertheless, we turn north and head for the pier. The walk along the pier takes us to the best vantage point for viewing the Melbourne skyline and to the small restaurant at the end. We find a breakwater and viewing platform at the end of the pier which is where the little penguins (the smallest species of penguin) can be seen every night when they return after fishing.
As we walk around the breakwater Marcus sees a penguin in the rocks. We are not sure why this one isn't out at sea; it may be malting or nesting. Marcus takes a photograph not using his flash as this can scare the penguins. It is really quite small and furry but has a long beak, it's a shame we are not able to come back after nightfall to view more.
Walking back, we make our way to Woolworths passing large Victorian mansions and buy food and drink for a picnic in the park. We sit under the large trees in the shade and look out to sea whilst eating our lunch before making our way back to the beach.
Settling down for an afternoon of sunbathing I get out my book and begin reading. Mark and Marcus both head for the sea as is tradition on New Year's Day. It's a little bit warmer here than on the North coast of Scotland though. However, Mark is soon out of the water as there are large Jelly fish and very few waves. Marcus stays in a little longer but then comes out and takes a walk along the beach.
As the afternoon draws to a close the beach becomes busier and more crowded, presumably as people get up late after last night. We pack up and make our way back to the tram stop and on to North Melbourne. An early night is called for.
Day 119 The Yarra
I wake up early feeling not too well; sore throat, swollen glands and full of cold. Nevertheless, I am determined not to waste our final day in Melbourne. We want to see more of the city but I don't feel up to walking too much so we decide a boat trip on the Yarra could be a good compromise.
We take the tram down to Flinders station and enquire about boat trips on the river. The self hire boats are all booked out for the next 2 days so we decide to go with a cruise company. Crossing the River to the Southbank we book on the 1.45 p.m. return bataeux to Williamstown.
The journey takes an hour, travelling down the Yarra to Hudsons Bay south-west of Melbourne city centre. We pass the docklands, the Marvel stadium and the swanky apartments and houses along the river before entering the port. Usually extremely busy it is quite today as it is closed for the Christmas break. We are entertained during the journey by the captain of the boat who delivers a commentary with dead pan wit.
Williamstown is surrounded on three sides by water and was Melbourne's first sea port. As we disembark at Gem pier and look back we are rewarded with scenic views of Melbourne's skyline, whilst facing us is a street of historic buildings.
We eat fish and chips at the end of the harbour before calling at the tourist information and picking up a map of different walks. We only have 90 minutes before the boat returns so decide on a walk around the headland. Turning left on Nelsons Place we pass a row of historic buildings which are now restaurants, shops and galleries.
Walking further we come to the rocky south-eastern coastline consisting of open parkland which includes the Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park. This park preserves the cultural heritage of the area with items of significance such as the old Fort Gellibrand military site which was first developed in 1860, and the Timeball Tower which was used by ships for timekeeping and navigation. Walking along Battery Road we look out to sea to where we are able to see Luna Park at St Kilda in the distance and watch yet another cruise ship navigate its way out of a port.
We walk back to the harbour and have ice cream whilst waiting for the return boat. When it arrives we make our way to the back deck to sit outside for the journey. Mark gets coffee and I take more paracetamol to keep me going. The buildings we see when returning to the city are very modern with unusual designs, some are actually bent in the middle!!
Disembarking we make our way back over the river and under Flinders Street train station. There is a massive H&M and I pop in and buy 3 new tops as the ones are brought have been worn to death and need throwing. The tram stop is just outside and we jump on to ride to Queen Victoria Markets. We spied a Spanish tapas bar El Rincon on New Years Eve which looked good.
A lovely bottle of Spanish red (I know we're in Australia with its great wines but we still love our Spanish Rioja's) and a number of sharing dishes later we head home on the tram. We will be leaving Melbourne tomorrow and making our way to the south coast. We will be sorry to say goodbye to this city which we have all liked immensely. Melbourne has been a blast and a fabulous place to see in the New Year.