Yesterday we caught the tram just after 8am, and it was crowded with school children, crammed. Today, we went to catch the tram just after 9am and it was almost as bad, so we crossed back over the road to take the train – it was much quicker and almost empty! Not as scenic, but a different route into the city was interesting all the same.

We picked up the city circle tram and were aiming for the Old Treasury Museum, but overshot the stop, and instead got off at Parliament. We noticed that there were free tours, so we took the opportunity. It’s a wonderfully ornate building, based on our own houses of parliament, though the upper chamber is elected, and both chambers are rather smaller. It’s quite hard to remember that this is a state parliament, rather than the federal … but then, Victoria State has the same land area as the whole of the UK, albeit with 1/10 of the population.

We learned some interesting facts … 22 nationalities among the elected MPs but no aboriginal (indigenous) members, two dominant parties in the lower house (the Assembly) but minority parties form the majority in the upper house (the Council) … all intriguing stuff.

And the security was tight … airport scanners etc … even though the place was packed with visitors and school children … so it took some time to get our party through security, even though there were only around 20 of us.

We then wandered back down the road to the Treasury Museum, built in the mid-1850s to store gold from the gold-rush … but only completed as the rush began to slow, so it was never used to it’s full potential and soon became an office block extension to Parliament. Nevertheless, it was our type of history – a suite of rooms in which the caretaker and his family lived up until 1920 … laid out as they had it, kitchen, parlour, scullery, bedroom – a display about the Soldier Resettlement Scheme post WW1 – another on the bushrangers, including the well known story of Ned Kelly and his gang. And the story of the architect of the building who went on to build many of the historic buildings across Australia and elsewhere – only 19 years old when he was appointed. All really interesting.

We found lunch in the Collins Street Arcade … one of the iconic, expensive shopping districts (there are several) … in the food hall … quite a sight itself. We settled on Burritos, really tasty, before walking on to St Paul’s Cathedral to meet up with J. We were rather early so visited the tourist centre across the road, and the souvenir shop (interesting to compare prices of identical articles from place to place … ), before spotting J on the steps opposite. We said Hello, then Tim wandered off to do the MCG tour, while J and I went off to spend time talking over tea and cakes … firstly at the open air patisserie in the square, and afterwards at David Jones (think expensive John Lewis). We talked more ‘clergy wife’ than ‘girlie’ but it was a lovely time, and made arrangements to meet again at the weekend, before walking together to the station, so once again I took the train ….

I like this system – the destinations are linked directly to the platform, so there’s never any confusion – trains to South Yarra are always on platform 6 – but I hopped on a train doing the ‘City Loop’ before heading south, so had a view all round the city and of the major stations, before heading in the right direction – it probably only added 5 minutes to the journey.

Tim wasn’t feeling too good, so we settled in for the evening, and I had opportunity to crochet, and to watch a series of episodes of … Criminal Minds!

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