A half day mini-adventure
I’ve provided directions on the assumption that you’re a visitor starting your day from your city centre hotel or a local come to the city for the day.
Before you set out on the day’s activity visit QV Centre. Downstairs is a huge Woolworth supermarket where you can grab one of the fabric shopping bags (a dollar or two) and fill it with picnic fixings. The city is rampant with convenience shops, Seven Elevens and such. But for variety and economy, go to the supermarket or the Queen Victoria Market (the subject of a future blog, as it’s a destination all on its own).
Now exit QV east toward Swanston Street and take any tram going south, out of the city EXCEPT a Number 1. Swanston street will turn into St Kilda one of the great Southern Hemisphere’s great boulevards. You’ll pass Flinders Station on your right and Federation Square on the left. After your cross over the Yarra River take note of the gardens to the left (you will walk back to the city through these). On the right there is Southbank, the National Gallery of Victoria and the Arts Centre (all worthy destinations, but not for you today).
Today you’re going to the Shrine one of the most prominent landmarks in Melbourne. It’s only a few minutes out of the city centre. Get off on Dorcas Street and back track to the trail into the Shrine or go one stop further to Domain Interchange and walk back to the Shrine from there.
The Shrine of Remembrance
The Shrine is sacred ground, was built in remembrance of those who served and those who died in the Great War of 1914-1918 and armed conflicts and peacekeeping duties since. To pay your respects and view the monuments and allegorical architecture are enough to warrant a visit.
Be sure to view the North and South porticos for their Doric columns topped by breathtaking sculptures (‘The Call to Arms’ and ‘The Homecoming’) and the East and West walls for their moving inscriptions.
Laying a poppy, a symbol of sacrifice, courage and remembrance, at one of the memorial locations within the Shrine and surround Shrine reserve is one traditional way to pay your respects (poppies are available for a gold coin donation).
The external elevated promenades provide views of Melbourne unlike any other.
If you’re looking for more structured activities, there are exhibitions, events, remembrance ceremonies (monthly not just for Anzac Day and Remembrance Day) and talks which are open to the public. There is a calendar of upcoming events on the front page of the Shrine’s web page. http://www.shrine.org.au/home
The Shrine is open from 10 am to 5 pm 7 Days a week. Note: During 2013 and 2014 the Shrine is undergoing major redevelopment to include permanent exhibition spaces. However the Shrine remains open to the public, although wheelchair access to some areas has been affected. The Crypt is closed during the course of construction.
After visiting the Shrine take your time walking back to the city through the Shrine Reserve and then east and north through the Botanic Gardens.
Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne
A visit to the gardens is a “choose your own adventure” style of exploring. There’s something different to see depending on the time of the year and your interests. There are specialised garden areas for different types of plants and environments.
Lush apricot rose
Some of my favourites are the Arid Garden (inspiring in these water wise times) the living fossils of the Cycad Garden, the lush Fern Gully, and the tranquillity of the Australia Forest Walk. But that’s just a sample of what’s on show. You can download a map of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne to guide you. Or just wander where you’re eyes take you.
No matter where you wander in the gardens you’re never far from a quite spot in the shade or sun to stop and have that picnic you packed. The only place you’re not allowed to stop and picnic are areas marked private, within the actual garden beds and areas blocked off as reserved for private functions. Put your trash in a bin of course and please don’t feed the birds. Although barbeques are not permitted within the gardens, free public barbeques line the Yarra River along Alexandra Avenue.
The gardens are open from 7:30 am to sunset every day of the year. Wheelchair hire is available from the Observatory Centre and at the Terrace Café for a $50 refundable deposit).
More information about the Royal Botanic Gardens