Day 2 in Melbourne: after a night at my relatives’ house, they turned me loose in Melbourne. My cousin Josiah had to go to work at his office downtown so I hitched a ride with him. My first stop was the State Library of Victoria. Naturally, this would be a stop especially after I got my master’s degree in Library and Information Science. I did not come here for the books; I came here for the special exhibits.
Outside the main entrance are two giant sized chess sets. Yes, people do play.
Once inside, it’s time to see what’s on display. The advice from the staff librarian is to start at the top – the sixth floor. From there, work downward. Oh, and enjoy the view of the atrium:
Perhaps one of most interesting exhibit I have ever seen was the history of books and publishing. You can learn about the development of books from illuminated manuscripts to the pulp fiction novels of the 1930s and then the Kindle. But, have you ever considered WHY there was an explosion of printed material started from the 1500s onward? The answer: Gutenberg made the first printed press in 1476. Around the same time, the Age of Exploration in Europe began: Prince John the Navigator Portugal had commissioned trips to go further. Vasco de Gama sailed around the Africa. Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. Balboa reached the Pacific. Along the way, they made new maps and drew pictures of new animals and plants. And when all those explorers got home, they needed to disseminate the information to others. Perhaps to fellow members of naturalist societies, financial backers, and royalty. Many first printed books were of plants.
On another floor, there was an entire exhibit dedicated to Ned Kelly. Ned was either a folk hero or the worst villain. Ned had built his own body armor and was involved in multiple shootouts. The most recent movie about Ned in 2003 had a who’s who of British-Australian stars.
After leaving the library, I headed to explore the downtown area. Melbourne is known for its arcades and covered walks. Near the St. Paul’s Cathedral, there were several guides who handed out walking guides and maps. I picked up a walking map and decided to walk even though it was over 90 F. I didn’t see all of them, but here are a few of them:
Definitely going back for more to find the other arcades.
I do have one “issue”; author Keri Arthur sets her “Riley Jensen” erotic paranormal thrillers in Melbourne. I haven’t read all her books but I wonder if I have ever been to any of the places she named. It’s like going to New York City and going to the places listed in your favorite novels or TV shows set in NYC. Sadly, the iconic McLaren’s bar in the TV show How I Met Your Mother does not exist except on a sound stage.
There is one more place I visited that afternoon but probably will save it for another post.