Melbourne, Australia: When You’re Another Backpacker’s Tour Guide, You Know It’s Time To Leave

Sophie and I pretended we could wake up early and head out to the gardens. But in truth, The night before at Traffik left me with no illusions about sleeping until 11.

My mission that day was to visit the Queen Victoria Markets to buy some fruit, nuts and honey, but first I promised Sophie a walk around the Gardens and a short visit to one of the museums. She hadn’t been in Melbourne long, and was afraid she’d miss all the tourist sights sitting in Jackson’s Manor all day, a whirlpool easily into which many backpackers were easily sucked .

We hopped on a train to the Royal Botanic Gardens, and walked a huge loop around the grounds. The day was brutally hot, and neither of us had expected to work up so much of a sweat. As we strolled through the Australian Rainforest area, the sprinklers came on, misting the surrounding plants on one of it’s many sessions during the day. Sophie and I stood under one of the taller fixtures, letting the small drops of water invade every pore and rescue our skin from the heat.

After the Gardens, we made the trip up Swanston Street/St. Kilda Road to the National Gallery of Victoria: Ian Potter museum, which I had visited a day or two earlier. The only part I hadn’t seen was the ground floor indigenous art exhibit. I was particularly intrigued with one piece by Lin Opus called “Fish”, which was an exceptional example of the use of synthetic polymer paint on canvas. They also had dueling exhibits of contemporary aboriginal art versus traditional.

Traditional Aboriginal art are typically “dreaming” pieces, which consist of a series of dots and geometric forms, marking places (with topographical detailing), paths, animal tracks and events. It’s very deliberate, confined and clean. The contemporary pieces, however, use the same concepts of dreamings and involved symbols but it is done without such discipline, using sweeping, almost violent and thick brush strokes, vivid colors and overlapping canvas areas.

Sophie and I dined outside the library on some sandwiches and pasta salad, then headed to the markets.

We bought some mangoes, strawberries, and raisins, and I finally found some good, local, unprocessed honey. Sohpie rolled her eyes at me as I launched into a discourse on “good honey” versus the poor excuses you find in supermarkets, how you need to work to find the good stuff, and how it’s well worth it.

That night I stayed in, or at least as much as I could stay in, I did. The dining room in Jacksons Manor is always littered with people who have “self-catered” their alcohol for the evening, and spend the night smoking cigarettes and refilling each others’ goon. After a few glasses I tapped out.

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