Melbourne Museum, Brunswick Street & Fitzroy and crazy Salsa night

Melbourne Travel Blog

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Woke up at 4.30am this morning dying of the heat; it was still 27 degrees. Melbourne is suffering some unusual high peaks in temperature, and 3 times already have hit over 40 degrees, yesterday being one of them. I tried to fall back asleep but with Zoe's body heat too it was unbearable so I got up. I hoped to find relief downstairs, as they keep the house in darkness all day to shut the heat out but it was maybe only a degree lower and when I opened the back door to curl up on the outside sofas I was greeted by a blow of intense humid heat, and shut the door sharpish. I finally fell asleep on the sofa downstairs.

When I finally roused myself I picked a nearby location for sight-seeing, and wandered down to the Melbourne Museum. This is a wonderful museum, possibly the best I have been to, which says a lot when the standard of museums in London is so high. I started with the Aboriginal exhibition; many photos of historical Abos, and stories of their murders by the white colonisers and of the 'Stolen Generation' - when well-meaning white folk stole the Aboriginal children and sent them to work as servants in the big cities with the intention of bringing them up 'civilised'. The continued impact of this abhorrent event is still acutely felt and has manifested itself in Aboriginal culture as alcoholism, high mortality, high suicide, child abuse, drug abuse, and high unemployment.

I managed also to sneak into a special Abo culture display put on for a tour group, and was pleased and interested to watch an Aboriginal tribesmen share some of his tribal songs, dances and cultural significances of the boomerang and didgeridoo. The boomerang, if it a 'returning' boomerang, should always be caught flat between two horizontally clapped hands. The didgeridoo is not permitted to be blown by women as it is a phallic symbol, and will only be

played by females at weddings in the presence of her husband. Rules about this have relaxed however, since the didgeridoo is now a widely accepted part of modern musical culture.

Next door, the native forest exhibition was closed for safety reasons, as they have a forest inside the building, much in the style of Eden Project or Kew, but with the current high winds too dangerous to open to the public. So I went instead to the Bugs exhibition, somewhat reluctantly but in the spirit of seeing everything. I was surprised; this was easily my favourite exhibition and I spent a happy hour exploring this. They had many beautiful butterflies and beetles, and live tarantulas. Tarantulas can live up to 30 years and eat the same weight in insects in a year as a person weighs. They also had an ant farm and I spent a good 15 minutes with another lady watching these fascinating creatures as they carried eggs from the queen to nurseries, where the nurses would take over. While other ants were tasked with picking up deceased workers and taking them outside to a graveyard, while still others carried food from outside into the tunnels. There was also a second ant display showing their progress above ground and we were invited to follow one ant and see how it behaved each time it crossed another ant. They touch each other briefly and this is to pass a chemical secretion with instructions for the workers; in this way orders can be carried out across the hundreds of ants.

Upstairs the human body exhibition was extremely informative and well-presented, not to mention slightly racy in the sexual development area with films of sex and many models and photos of naked people. Next door I had just enough time to do a quick run through of the 'Mind and Psyche' exhibition which discussed brain function, mental diseases and disfunctions, drugs and dreams. Like the rest of the exhibitions, there were plenty of fun buttons to press, and interactive gears and levers to play with, not to mention dream beds and other activities that would have been over-run with children were this a museum in London. It was a nice change to have so much room to explore properly and for the adults to have a go for a change!

Jo was cooking at 6pm so I had just enough time to walk across to Brunswick Street and Fitzroy Street, a well-known area of Melbourne for retro clothes shops and kooky bars and restaurants. I had a wander back towards the house and thankfully wasn't moved to buy anything considering my recent shopping sprees, but enjoyed the walk and marveling at the fashion.

Back at the house Jo cooked us a marvellous green curry with omlette and then we got ready to head out to the Empress Hotel to see a trip-hop band called Miso. The band was great, so I bought one of their CDs, and when they finished we headed over to the Laundry where Jo's cousin sometimes djs. On arrival we were surprised and pleased to find a salsa night in full swing, and half-cut already I was immediatley sashaying through the crowd whereby I was soon accosted by an older fella who started whirling me around the dancefloor. It was fun, if exhausting, and I had to recover for quite some time after that! In the meantime our group had warmed up and we danced the night away to the sounds of salsa.

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photo by: jendara