Early morning, I took a 7:45am flight to Melbourne (bye bye Sydney). After arriving at Melbourne, I signed up for another “I am Free” walking tour.
On this tour, I was able to learn the history and cultural development of Melbourne. As mentioned from before, Melbourne did not grow big until the gold rush in the 1850s. Ever since then, Australians begin to compare between Melbourne and Sydney. In fact, Melbourne was ahead of Sydney in many aspects at one point in the 19th and 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1956 Summer Olympics that gave Sydney a wake-up call to re-establish the city.
Currently, since Sydney is the financial hub of Australia and has better beaches, Melbourne differentiates itself by developing othert aspects of the city. People from Melbourne claim that they have better culture, sports, visual arts, liberal arts and even coffee. Melbourne is currently being recognized as a UNESCO City of Literature. Right now, there are only 7 cities of literature recognized by UNESCO in the world.
In terms of sports, Melbourne prides itself to be the city to host major world sports events. These include the Australian Open for tennis, the Australian Grand Prix for Formula One, and the Melbourne Cup for horse racing. In addition, it also has a 100,000 capacity venue (the Melbourne Cricket Ground) that annually hosts the AFL Grand Final.
Last but not least, Melbourne is very well-known for its street art. In order to increase its cultural importance, the government allow real-estate owners to have their walls painted with street art. Real-estate owners simply need to apply for a permit from the government. Afterwards, should an artist want to paint on a building, he/she need to ask permission from the real-estate owners. At the end, the art produced on the wall will be considered as street art, and not graffiti. Below are some amazing street art pictures found on the alleys of Melbourne.
At the end, the tour guide led us across the Yarra River to see the beautiful skyline of Melbourne.
One thing I would like to mention about this city is the numerous references to Batman. In Melbourne, there are Batman Avenue, Batman Street, Batman Park etc. So why are there many references of Batman in Melbourne? Well, Melbourne was actually first settled by an Australian explorer called John Batman. He was the first Australian who made business deals with local Aboriginals to buy the land of Port Phillip, which is located in Melbourne now. Indirectly, John Batman founded Melbourne and he initially called the land “Batmania”. However, the British authorities rejected this name and named it as Melbourne instead. Imagine if Batmania was the name chosen for the city, then the residents would be called Batmanians, how cool would that be?