Normally, one doesn’t visit obvious tourist sites in one ’s one city unless you are hosting visitors from interstate or overseas. I had a wonderful day during this week with my granddaughter, Violet (aged 11), when we visited a few of the standout locations in Melbourne that had a Christmas decorations or a seasonal theme.
I wanted to offer her and her sister, Audrey, a day out so that they would avoid being stuck at home getting bored during their school holidays while their mum had to work. In the end, Audrey was asked to her best friend’s birthday party and that effectively filled in her day, so Violet and I travelled off to find some good places to visit.
Our first stop was to see the large Christmas Tree in the tower at 333 Collins Street. The atrium in this grand building was built in 1890 and was originally the banking chamber for the then prosperous Commercial Bank of Australia. It has been preserved over a number of refurbishments and building redesigns and has retained its jaw-dropping beauty. The soaring Italian baroque dome is the highlight and is amply backed by the exquisite inlaid marble floorings, gilt-detailed columns and arches, and all the other features and fancywork of the times.
In the 1990s, this historic building was developed and extended to become modern office space with the addition of a 33-floor postmodern tower adjoining it at the rear. The tower is topped with a copper dome, echoing the original domed structure.
Once we were able to close our mouths again, we walked down to Elizabeth Street, under the tunnel at Flinders Street Station and over to the Southbank area along the Yarra River.
We continued down to Crown Casino to see the Christmas decorations in the Atrium. I am no fan of casinos at the best of times, but if they are going to put on a grand display for Christmas, I can spend a few minutes appreciating their hard work and money that out took to present it.
Our next stop was at the Eureka Tower – a 297.3 m (975 ft) skyscraper. It was completed in 2006. We had planned a visit to this building as the prime place that we wanted to see and we had a nice clear day with extensive views.
One of the new attractions in this building is the ‘Voyager Theatre’. It features a number of ‘virtual reality pod chairs’ that took us on a trip through sixteen iconic Melbourne places. Through a VR headset, we were taken to some of Melbourne’s festivals, laneways, Yarra River, sporting events and Victoria’s stunning scenery experiencing Super 8K high-definition and 6-D movement and smell sensations. I rather liked the Scenic Railway wooden roller coaster at Luna Park and the ride on a motorcycle across King Street Bridge. At Flemington Recourse for the Melbourne Cup we were immersed in a garden of pink roses and rose scent wafted around us. Very smart technology!
The observation deck on the 88th Floor is the highest public vantage point in any building in the Southern Hemisphere at 285 m (935 ft). We had some wonderful 360 degree views around the city and the clear sunny day provided us with long range views across the city and suburbs.
Eastern part of Melbourne’s CBD with Flinders Street Train Station at the bottom.
Looking south along St Kilda Road and Albert Park
Looking west, downstream along the Yarra River to Docklands
Melbourne’s sporting precinct with the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Tennis Centre (home of the Australian Open) and Square Stadium. The Myer Music Bowl is in the parklands in the foreground
We sat down for a delicious pub lunch back at street level. Violet amazed me with her ability to eat most of an enormous serve of Chicken Parma. The size of my beer was also rather grand. Any doubts that I might have had about how much an 11 year old girl was enjoying being out with her grandfather evaporated during lunch when she texted her older sister with a message saying “You’re missing out!”
Finally, we walked up to Federation Square to see their modern electronic Christmas Tree and surrounding displays. I was quite happy when Violet announced that she was tired and wanted to go back to the car. By this time, I was feeling a bit knackered myself and I was happy to fall in line with her.