Day 11 of our Victorian Road Trip: St Kilda, Melbourne

We’ve had a wonderful two-night stay with my long-standing girlfriend and her husband, but all good things must come to an end, and it is time for us to head on to Melbourne.

Melbourne is one Australian capital that was smart enough to retain its trams, and they cover an extensive network of the city. This does pose a challenge for the interstate driver though, because if you want to make a right-hand turn, you need to use what they call a hook turn. To make sense of how you execute the turn, you need to keep in mind that over here we drive on the left-hand side of the road.

A hook turn is a right hand turn you make from the left hand lane.

With thanks to VicRoads, here is how you do it:

Right turn from left only signTo do a hook turn you must:

  1. Approach and enter the intersection from the far left hand lane and have your right indicator on.
  2. Move forward to the other side of the intersection, keeping as near as possible to the left of the intersection and clear of any pedestrian crossings.
  3. Stay stopped until the traffic lights on the road you are turning into have turned green.
  4. Turn right into the road.

It’s not the most straightforward manoeuvre that an already lost and disoriented driver wants to attempt. You can see there is a intimidating moment when you feel trapped in the middle of the street. Since I had the most recent experience of driving in Melbourne (last January), I took the wheel for our drive up the Mornington Peninsula to Melbourne. We had a lunch date, and we allowed two hours for the trip. Turns out that with the improvements to the freeway, we were there for morning tea.

Best of all, our first destination was east of Melbourne CBD, so it turned out there were no scary turns to be accomplished. The freeway took us to within a couple of suburbs of where we wanted to be, and by then I had my bearings from the previous visit. That didn’t prevent one last-minute, “oh was that the street?” moment, but happily I continued on until safe to turn around, rather than making a sudden late turn while trying to dodge any oncoming traffic.

We visited with a distant relative we had met through family history research, someone whose company I very much enjoy. Since it was practically Christmas, we decided to eat out, and chose a mid-range modern Italian restaurant offering a decor of white tablecloths, large windows and prints on the walls, discreet service, that kind of thing. Being almost Christmas, many others had the same idea, so it was noisier than we expected, but the food and the attention were top class.

We could have loitered all afternoon, but we were expecting to back up with another couple that night, and I was anxious to get to our accommodation before the workday city traffic became too heavy. Good plan in theory. It didn’t stop us getting bumper-to-bumper traffic in the last few streets, exacerbated by another wrong turn, but at least that meant that eventually I didn’t miss the turn-off into the hotel.

Our dinner date had to cancel due to ill-health so we were suddenly at a loose end. Our hotel was kind of near St Kilda, a suburb about 5klm south of the CBD and on the shore of Port Phillip Bay. It’s one of those suburbs that has had many reputations over the decades, from exclusive to red-light and back to gentrification. We decided to head down there for a look around and a light dinner, but didn’t want to take the car. There is a regular tram service which was running on a street nearby, but the tickets proved too difficult to buy. We had to go to a convenience store, buy an electronic card each, then load it with a minimum amount of money. All great if you are staying a while. Not much use for a two-way ten minute trip. It was a totally different experience to how easy we found the public transport ticketing system on our visit to Adelaide in June.

We’d been sitting most of the day, so we decided to walk instead. If we had followed the tram route, we would have been there in twenty minutes or so. But being on the main road was not terribly scenic or appealing so we struck off through a nearby park, thinking we were staying parallel.

Of course we weren’t, and every time we had to make a decision, we turned in the wrong direction. We ended up way west of St Kilda’s bustling main precinct, and only got there by asking directions several times. Hey-ho! At least it offered us a good look around the quiet residential back streets and a gawk at some of the old mansions from its Victorian and Edwardian heyday, mixed up with terraces and apartments.

We were pretty footsore by the time we hit the shoreline, but at least this time we headed in the right direction (with advice from a local), and that had the advantage that we walked the length of the esplanade. There is much to see in the way of parks, historic buildings, views across the bay, seashore, and people-watching. There is a seaside pier, although we didn’t walk out to the kiosk at the end of it. The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron is also here. You can look across to the Port of Melbourne, and in clear conditions, maybe even identify the vessels berthed there.

It’s hard to be sure in this hazy shot, but as best I can make out the funnel, this is a cruise ship of the Princess Line.

Princess Line cruise ship in Melbourne

Princess Line cruise ship in Melbourne

While at the berth in front, is the unmistakable livery of the T.T. Line’s Spirit of Tasmania, a dual passenger/car ship making regular crossings to Devonport, Tasmania. The crossing takes between nine and eleven hours. I think the night service leaves at 7.30pm. This ship is steamed up, so departure time must be near (or they’re cooking dinner)  🙂 .

Spirit of Tasmania Melbourne December 13, 2016

Spirit of Tasmania Melbourne December 13, 2016

I am not sure which stevedore owns the cranes in the below shot, and I would usually recognise the colours of the two major operators. Taking into account that they are all in the up position, and there is no cargo ship alongside, I am guessing they belong to the new competitor, International Container Terminal Services (ICTSI) of The Phillipines. Here is a story on the delivery of the new cranes.

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The beach and party goers remain oblivious to the action across the water.

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Back on the street side, one quickly runs into Luna Park, an amusement park built in 1912, and still very popular today. The scaffolding behind that beautiful face is part of the roller coaster.

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Continuing our walk away from the foreshore and esplanade, we quickly came to Acland Street which is busy with shops, restaurants and entertainment. This was the suburb’s original main street. From the 1930s onwards it became the centre of the Jewish community from Eastern Europe. Their legacy remains in the cake shops which were still open and doing a roaring trade.

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As you can imagine, St Kilda is now popular with tourists, especially backpackers, and one of their favourite foods – as it was for us tonight – is pizza. Thanks to the multicultural mix of this neighbourhood, these are served closer to a traditional Italian style, rather than the overloaded thick-based versions available from the fast-food chains.

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Since I managed to restrain myself from actually going into the cake shop, we rewarded ourselves with a taxi ride back to the hotel. My feet were grateful, but my head was still drooling over pastries 🙂 .

Tuesday, 13th December 2016Image result

17 thoughts on “Day 11 of our Victorian Road Trip: St Kilda, Melbourne

  1. I think port/dock areas make for very interesting photos. It’s the combination of the commercial cranes, a hub of activity and the reflective quality of the water. I can’t remember if you’ve voiced an opinion about the super, large cruise ships. I don’t find them particularly attractive and pictures of them out sea are meh, but get them close to land and scale is everything and they become quite mesmerising don’t you think?

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    • Well I love anything around the port areas, because that was my working profession, and I started off in Port Adelaide where you could still board the vessels. We still receive an annual calendar which features twelve photos submitted by wharf workers around Australia and some of them are stunning. All the same, I liken car carriers to a block of flats, and some cruise ships are very similar. In recent years though, even though they are getting bigger and bigger, there does seem to be some return to giving them classic lines in the bow and bridge areas in particular. We have just had the Voyager of the Seas call into Wollongong, that’s the third cruise ship in two months – as a trial for a new port of call. It was exciting to see her in. Our harbour has a dogleg to the right, so seen from our apartment block, you can’t see the water, making it appear the ship is up on land. Bill and I volunteered to welcome passengers, and we worked the shuttle buses running from the port to the CBD. I was happy to do that, and excited for the passengers, but I have zero desire to travel on a ship that big, and even less (mathematically impossible I know) to cruise the Pacific Islands. All the same, we all crowded a vantage point to watch her sail away at the end of the day, and yes, it is majestic and mesmerising.

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      • I agree there is something amazing when they look so enormous and at the same time appear as if they’re right up against the land. I’ve never been on a cruise and the longest I’ve been on a ship was a couple of days crossing the Bay of Biscay from the UK down to Lisbon. It was pretty rough. Luckily, I was okay, but too many passengers were seasick to make it a pleasant journey.
        Sounds an interesting job working at various ports, everything in transit, people and stuff, everyday different.

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        • I loved working in and around cargo and international trade.As for cruising, the ones I have done had a “purpose” of sorts. 7 nights around the Hawaiian Islands, 7 nights around southern Croatian islands, 9 nights on the Yangtze River – that sort of thing. The ship that just arrived had 4500 passengers and crew. Shudder!!!

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          • I think it was about 100 on board (and 32 on the Croatian trip). It’s basically a three-level barge dressed up. Most people choose the short three-gorges cruise. We cruised from Shanghai to Chongqhing with half and full day tours on every day all included. It was wonderful to see the river’s industrial use as well as scenic, and a fabulous eye-opener to China’s history, variety, mountains, beauty and so on. The staff were amazing. I’d recommend it.

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          • That sounds wonderful. I’ve only been to Guangzhou in the south for a quick visit from Hong Kong before HK was returned to China. It was all a bit muddy, grey and grim. However since I saw the film ‘The Painted Veil’ I can see that some parts of China are absolutely stunning and well worth a visit. Some day maybe 😌

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  2. The cake shops in St Kilda are to die for, if you think about it Melbournes probably got the best food in Australia, The Greek is superb, not surprising when you consider Melbourne is/was the second city after Athens for Greek population. Italian Restaurants are better than you’ll find in Rome, Melbourne is a true class city.
    Pity about the beaches, not that I use them, and they could do with a decent bridge. Still love Melbourne.

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  3. The driving is no problem for me, I lived in Melbourne when I arrived in Oz in 51, Bought me first car a 1939/40 Morris 10, from R.H.Hall in High Street, St Kilda in Dec 53, cost me £235, which I paid off £90 deposit £2 a week for 2 years.
    So I learned to drive in Melbourne, In Feb 52 I decided I needed a licence so me mate took me along to Russell St Police HQ and a Sgt Longbottom, took me for me test, I didn’t know how to park proper cos ,me mate hadn’t shown me.
    Had to stick the car between 2 barricade things set to give me a yard at each end. Sgt Longbottom laughed his head off, said lets go for a drive and we did, he sat in the back chatting to me mate and after driving around Melbourne for half hour he said Ok you can drive come and get yer licence. So I did! 😄
    Those were the days! 😈

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    • Great memories aren’t they? My girlfriend helped teach me in her brand new Mazda 1300 that her father had bought her. (he was an absentee guilt ridden dad I think) She’d come and pick me up from work after my night shift and get me to drive home. One time I got too close to a bus, so then I backed off and overtook him. She said, “what – you missed him the first time so now you’re taking a second shot at it?”

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