Just an easy two block walk from our apartment was the Malbourne Museum. While the current building at its present location is only a few years old (it opened in 2000), its origins date back to 1854 when it was part of the Government Assay Office next to the State Library in the central business district. Considered to be the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, its seven galleries, set at right angles ( known as a Hoddle Grid pattern, named after Robert Hoddle, designer of Melbourne's CBD streets) allows each to be explored individually, as if separate buildings, while still part of a single structure. This is both a cultural and natural history museum. Interestingly, we learned that this current location was the former site of the Melbourne Exhibition Speedway - a dirt track motorcycle venue that operated between 1928 and 1936. One of the more interesting exhibitions within the museum is the "Forest Gallery" - an actual Victorian forest environment, complete with birds flying about, reptiles crawling around, and other species of flora and fauna endemic to Australia. Of course, there were the usual exhibits of dinosaur skeletons, scientific innovations, and native culture on display. According to the staff of the museum, who apparently watch such things, the most popular exhibit is the one devoted to the life and career of the thoroughbred race horse, Phar Lap. During the Depression years of 1929 to 1932, Phar Lap won an amazing 36 of the 41 races he ran (losing only when he ran while sick), and became a hero to all Australians during a time when there wasn't much to be happy about. When he died of an apparent bacterial infection, Australia scrambled to immortalize this record breaking sports legend with an exhibit of his life and deeds for future generations to see. We had never heard of Phar Lap before, but once we saw this exhibit, we could somewhat understand why Australia became enarmoured with him.
The Melbourne Museum located within the Carlton Gardens just a couple of blocks from our apartment...
...directly opposite the Exhibition Center.
For all of my computer friends....CSIRAC, Australia's first digital computer.
Australia's Coat of Arms depicting a shield with symbols of the six Australian States, supported by the two most widely known of Australia's animals, the kangaroo and the emu.
A recreation of the 1860's "Little Lion" poor district in central Melbourne...
...in which the houses were so small that rooms had to serve double duty as bedrooms and kitchens....
...and the outhouses were in the alley.
An 1854 photo of Collins street in central Melbourne.
"Bugs Alive" is an exhibit of the many bugs found throughout Australia.
Heros come in all sizes and shapes. During the Depression, Phar Lap gave Australians something to cheer about...
...he won an astounding 36 of the 41 major races in which he competed, losing only those times when he was ill.
It was widely held that his trainer, Tommy Woodcock (shown here holding his reins) was his best friend.
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Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.