Friday, 27 July 2012

Melbourne opens itself to the public this weekend

It's not everyday that you get to visit some of Melbourne's most historic buildings or sites that are usually never accessible to the public.  It's a great initiative and speaking from past experience I cannot recommend it enough.

Here is a quick guide:

Official Website

Aussie-traveller's recommended visits
-Manchester Unity Building
-Melbourne Town Hall and Offices
-RMIT Building 113 Captiol Theatre
-Newman College
-University of Melbourne (University House)
-Parliament House
-Melbourne Recital Centre

Some highlights
-100 Buildings opened
-3 mystery buildings
-Royal Melbourne Hospital Tunnels and Towers
-Redevelopped Hamer Hall (photo below)

-BRING A CAMERA (most buildings encourage this but be careful if photography is forbidden...)
-Not all buildings are open on both Saturday and Sunday

Good luck and have fun! Take as many photos as you can as you'll have to wait another year for this opportunity to arise again.

Aussie-traveller welcomes people to share photos from the event on its Facebook page which you can access below.  Don't forget to 'LIKE' it and SHARE with friends!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Visiting One of the ‘New 7 Wonders of Nature’: Uluru

Guest Post

Rising from a now vanished sea to stand proud, demanding the attention of all who visit is Uluru, or Ayers Rock.

Situated in Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia, this large sandstone rock formation seems misplaced surrounded by miles of flat expanse.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen anything quite as spectacular as Uluru, which is not surprising considering it also happens to be inscribed on the World Heritage list and is one of Australia’s most iconic symbols.

While here I stayed at Yulara, which is about 11 miles from Uluru. For those who are driving this is an option to consider instead of driving the distance back to Alice Springs which is about a 4-5 hour drive. At the Yulara Resort you can find budget accommodation for those camping to five star Uluru hotels. In the resort itself you can expect to find restaurants, an art gallery, a swimming pool, shops, a mini market and lush greenery, making it a pleasant stop over for a good night’s rest.

Known as an inselberg, which is a lone rock that rises from a flat or slightly sloping plain, the sheer size of Uluru takes a moment or two to take in. Combine that with the fact that surrounding it is a vastness of flat land it’s not hard to miss on the horizon. But, what we see is definitely not all of it.

Measuring in at 348 metres high, about 863 metres above sea level, this massive iceberg shaped rock has most of its bulk underground. Standing near to Uluru you can only imagine the true extent to how much bigger it could be. If ever there was a time when I could appreciate how tiny and insignificant an ant might feel among us humans it was now looking up at the bulk of Uluru.

Notable for changing its colour to a glowing red during the hours of dawn and sunset this is the time when most people venture to catch the best glimpse of Uluru. Of course, even if you can’t make the time to visit at these hours simply seeing it when you can is still an awe inspiring experience.

Even though Uluru was named in 1873 by surveyor William Gosse as Ayers Rock after Sir Henry Ayers the then Chief Secretary of South Australia, Aboriginal culture and Uluru has been intertwined far longer than that. The rock is thought to have been created more than 600 million years ago, while the Aborigines have lived in the area for the past 10,000 years. Today, rituals are still held in many of the caves, but it’s important to note that photography of any kind is not permitted.

Before having the chance to visit Uluru I looked at pictures and read up on the history to understand more about it. While the pictures give you some sense of what to expect in terms of size, I felt that actually seeing it for real didn’t do it justice. Once again, it was easy for me to feel insignificant as I stood before it.

For those visiting Uluru walking around the base of it is highly recommended. Depending on your walking speed this can take several hours, but is definitely worth it considering the amount of flora and fauna that can be seen. It is believed that 21 native species live around Uluru.

However, in order to respect the wishes of the Aboriginal people it is not recommended to actually climb Uluru. Not only is it a strenuous and steep climb with plenty of strong summit winds, but the climbing track suggested trespasses through an Aboriginal sacred site.
The track itself is only one mile long, but depending on how fit you are this could take two hours to complete. Even if you don’t climb Uluru the experience you have will be hard to put into words, but is definitely a visit that will stay with you forever.

Rebecca Campbell is a freelance writer who loves travelling and experiencing the many wonders each country has to offer. Her latest travel experience has been to Australia where she has been looking into houses for rent with homesales.

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Friday, 6 July 2012

A freezing winter in Melbourne

Transitioning from a humid lifestyle back in Hong Kong to a freezing climate back home has proven to be more difficult than I had originally anticipated.  Having spent almost a year abroad, it's strange settling back but at the same time it is nice to meet up with old friends.

Melbourne hasn't changed much apart from the redevelopment of areas such as Swanston st and the inefficient MYKI (public transport smart-card) system.  Yes, it is improving but it's far from ready.  If you compare it with ones in other regions such as Hong Kong & Singapore, I always wonder why they didn't outsource the work and shamelessly ask for advice from already working systems.  In a future post, I will give you an example of what the Hong Kong octopus card can do and you'll understand why I am so bitter towards the MYKI.  Having spent a few weeks here, I can already pick out many faults in the system, but fingers crossed it will work out in the end.  The sad truth is that Melbourne has great potential for a superb system, it's just that it is not managed well.

No, I am entirely frustrated with Melbourne as I have missed it dearly.  This week it was sad to find out that Melbourne no longer tops the charts as the most liveable city in the World.  Vancouver too, has missed out on a place in the top 10, previously ranking very well, claiming #1 position for several years.  Hong Kong is now the most liveable city!  I think it's a sign: I have a feeling Hong Kong is dragging me back.  It's the perfect excuse right?  More information on the ratings below:

Within the first few days of arriving back to Melbourne, I couldn't help but roam around the city and explore my hometown.  After discovering many areas in Hong Kong at every free moment I had, I was inspired to do the same back home.  There is so much to see, so much to do... You just need to find time to discover what's around you.  And yes, we all do have a few spare minutes in our lives... 

Walking down Little Burke this week, I enjoyed taking in the street art.  I don't remember this particular artwork before, I'm not exactly sure if it's new or I genuinely never noticed it.  It's awkward but there is something cool about it.  The second photo I took is one that I personally like, the non-standing sign, the glistening garage doors and the brickwork on the left all adds to it.  For those who have never visited Melbourne, I highly recommend you check out the lanes and our famous graffiti!

The next set of photos are from Australia Arcade.  Apart from the fact that this mall feels rather dead and many business have change or left, it was a good idea to introduce this artwork.  The umbrellas are a nice contrast against our gloomy winter!

View from the food court seating below

And Grand Hyatt on Collins st.  I've always loved the design of this hotel, especially the colour of the glass windows which always shine :)

That's all for now.  Greetings from a seriously cold Melbourne!  Stick around for some final posts about my experience studying and living in Hong Kong!

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