Australia Day 9

Finally a day to sleep in! We woke up mid morning, but by the time we made it out of the hotel it was after noon and we needed to return the rental car. We had to make a quick stop to fill the gas tank and then over to Budget to return the car. Thankfully, I made it out of Melbourne without having to make the hook left turn where you have to pull off to the left to make a right turn. It is very bizarre to watch and it looked even worse to try and do.

After turning the car in, we headed over to the Queen Victoria Market, which reminded me of Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax. Unfortunately, it closed at 2pm and that was the time we arrived. We quickly made it through as many stalls as we could while they were packing up. Mom managed to score some charms for her bracelet, and I just enjoyed looking in the stalls. We then decided to try and get something to eat. I wanted to get a slice of pizza on the go, but after a few blocks, we just decided to try Aussie Subway. It was ok, but not the same flavor as the US variety. We then headed down to the Rialto Tower – the highest office building in the Southern Hemisphere. As I read that in the brochure, I couldn’t help but thinking that this building might fall on hard times when the new taller Eureka Mixed-Use building on South Bank opens.

The first part of the Observation area is a movie in “Rialtovision”. It was a welcome to Melbourne video (on sale in the gift shop) and was even cornier than the Canada Circlevision movie. Sadly it was not even Circlevision, but I did feel like I had seen all of Melbourne when I was done. We then headed up to the 54th floor observation area. The weather was great and you could see pretty far. Someone in the tower mentioned that there was some haze in the sky, and on a clearer day, you could see all the way to the other side of the bay where the two points of land almost meet. After some photos and videos, we headed downstairs and then went over to the Something Aussie Store. We thought due to the hype it would be full of cool souvenirs and such, but it was a bit of a let down and was in a shifty part of downtown. We decided to hop on the free tram and head back towards the main part of downtown and the Bourke Street Parade. We popped into Target to see how it compared to the US version. It was identical – just some of the fashion was different. I decided to check out the local HMV store and managed to score the Kath and Kim Christmas special DVD and the Party album. We then popped into the Meyer Department store and scored a Melbourne 2006 polo shirt for the Commonwealth Games.

We then headed back to the hotel to pack and get ready to head out to Uluru. We had planned to head over to Lygon Street for dinner – it is the main Italian community in Melbourne and supposedly home to some of the best Italian food in Australia. The front desk person at the Sebel recommended that we try the Southbank area since it would be buzzing with people and it was a lot closer. We headed down to the Crown Casino and shopping center. It was straight out of Las Vegas – complete with a mall/casino hybrid and flames that fire off the riverfront every hour on the hour. We ate at a place called Automatic, which had excellent drinks (I had Midori, Vodka, and Cranberry) as well as good pizza. We then took a leisurely stroll back to the hotel. It was a nice evening and I look back at the time in Melbourne I have mixed emotions. I love the city, but I think my expectations were a bit high from everyone telling me it was there favorite city so I left feeling a bit disappointed since Sydney really blew my socks off.
It is time to mentally prepare ourselves for a bit of rough Outback as we head off to Ayers Rock Resort. Matt has told me that it’s a bit of rough country, so I am anticipating the worst.