Meet Up in Melbourne Day 1

Last year, I had blogged about my trip to New Zealand while on a cruise ship. To recap, the first stop was Milford Sound. The cruise ship had sailed down the channel, allowing us to take awesome pictures, turned around and sailed back out. The second stop where we had a chance to disembark and visit was Dunedin. Next, Akaroa and Christchurch, followed by Auckland, and then the last stop of the five was the Bay of Islands, specifically Russell Island and Waitangi. You can always click “Back” or “Older” and read about them.

I’m going to skip ahead to the last two and half days in Australia where I visited family in Melbourne. My Uncle Alfred is my dad’s younger brother; my Aunt Miriam, and cousin Josiah live there. Aunt Miriam teaches piano and also taught my cousin Danny how to teach piano. They live in the suburbs. My uncle picked me up when I arrived and took me to some places off the beaten path on the first day.

For lunch, we had banh-mi – Vietnamese sandwiches from a pretty tasty place. I was kind of tired, having been up at 6 AM for an 8 AM flight from Sydney to Melbourne so lunch was welcome.

My uncle took me to a place where a peculiar tower was built. This tower was built in the 1700s and early 1800s before extremely accurate but small chronometers were issued to ships. Because calculating longitude is a function of time from a fixed point – that is, the Greenwich Observatory in London, sailors really needed an accurate fix. This particular type of tower used to be all over the ports in the British Empire. At 12:55 PM, the ball would ascend. At exactly 1:00 PM, the ball would drop. Any ship in the harbor or anchored nearby would have an officer watch the tower. He would then rely the correct time to his ship.

Of course, in the 21st century, there are atomic clocks, GPS satellites, and wristwatches. These have made these types of towers obsolete. Many of them were torn down and only a handful remain as tourist attractions and reminders of the challenges sailors faced 200 years ago. My uncle was a former sailor and into this asset of maritime history. In fact, he claims to have timed it to the point that whenever he takes first time visitors to Melbourne, they arrive around 12:50 PM to find a spot to watch the tower. Uncle Alfred even went to a nearby car with an Asian couple who were clearly tourists and told them to watch the tower for something they have never seen before and would have missed it. 🙂

After that, we drove around to various small parks and a boardwalk. There is one place where you can see penguins nesting. After seeing the penguins, I bought my uncle a drink at a cafe opened in 1920s, was burnt down, and rebuilt to the original specs.

That was somewhat off the beaten path. 🙂
I’ll get to play tourist the next two days; I’ll roam around the city, visit the museums, and take lots of photos. Oh, and this was a late spring day and not even summer in the southern hemisphere, but high temperatures were close to 40 C (over 90 F).

Until next time.

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