Posts Tagged ‘tour’

Food, Music and Libraries – meandering in Melbourne on Monday

September 16, 2014

Impressions of Melbourne…

Still on Perth time so slept in till 8, then trotted up to a nearby 711 for the essential Myki transport card. Can’t use Public Transport in Melbourne without it.

Took a crowded commuter tram up St Kilda road to the city and made the long hike up Bourke St to Kinfolk cafe for breakfast. Kinfolk have volunteer waitstaff and direct all their profits to four development projects, and the food is delicious.


Once fed and coffee’d it was time to see how many libraries I could visit from the list of Fabulous and Famous Libraries in and Around the Melbourne CBD (a suggested pre or post ALIA2014 Conference activity).

(I did make a little detour into the enticing Wunderkammer on my way)

I began with the august surrounds of the Supreme Court Library. No photography allowed so I’ll have to paint a word picture of this domed and galleried space with two stories of bays of law tomes radiating from the centre like intellectual spokes from a wheel. The casual visitor is impressed by the many portraits of Judges and Justices in their robes and wigs (dead(?) white males with one exception), and amongst them in sombre black an portrait of the first librarian. Also sombre, in one of the display cases, is the judge’s black cap. A more frivolous note could be struck on the grand piano – the staff on duty were relative newcomers and couldn’t tell me when and if it was played.

Crime of a more cheerful sort could be found up the road at the Atheneum Library. From it’s origins in 1839 as a Mechanics Institute Library the Atheneum has survived and grown to fill a unique niche as a successful subscription library with a particular strength in Crime Fiction.


I chatted to Tom about the library’s history and took advantage of their hospitality to conference delegates (otherwise it’s members only) with a cup of coffee and some classic crime.


Survived my departure via one of Melbourne’s oldest working lifts

IMG_0784.JPG and headed off to City Library.

Here, behind an unprepossessing facade in Flinders Lane I found a buzzing hub of books, people, study rooms, arts projections, and an art gallery in a friendly rambling warren of a repurposed building.



I also found another piano, this time very much in use with musicians welcome to play at almost any time – I wandered to “Misty” and left listening to “Nature Boy”.


More music accompanied me back to meet and lunch with a colleague at Kinfolk – a cellist in a lane way (with the poignant sign “this cello for sale”) and a violinist serenading Collins Street.

Refreshed by lunch I took a tram back up to Swanston St and the rather overwhelming State Library of Victoria. The facade is modestly swathed for renovations and the entrance and information centre areas don’t strike the eye so it was a shock to pass in to the grand Redmond Barry Reading room

and a greater shock to pass into the iconic domed main reading room – of course I’d heard of it, and seen pictures but nothing prepares you for the sheer scale of the place!

I took some time to look at their collection of art depicting Melbourne, children’s book illustrations, and, in the Dome gallery, Mirror of the World which traces the human urge to write and create from manuscripts and incunabula to pulp fiction and artists books.

I left the Les Miserables exhibition for a later visit. Victor Hugo’s words are emblazoned in French and English on the walls of the information centre.


After that rarefied excursion into the breadth and depth of human knowledge I needed something to bring me back to earth so I crossed the road to The Little Library at Melbourne Central – a funky shop front book exchange in a shopping centre.


Unfortunately I had not saved the best till last, as I found when I dropped in to RMIT library – which looked like your standard tertiary library, functional and visually unexciting, so I moved across the road to see the new and trendy Swanston Academic Building with its many “informal learning spaces” which in my tired state looked a little like dark, uncomfortable and depressing alcoves in the many corridors.


Maybe I needed to see it in the morning.

There were several more libraries on the list but I’d come to the end of my time and headed back to my hotel to have a rest and get ready catch the bus to Brighton to sing with Sing Australia – but that’s another story…


Seeing justice done – 150 years of the Supreme Court of Western Australia

June 19, 2011

About a week ago my brother-in-law spotted a little notice in the local paper advertising the Supreme Court of Western Australia’s open day.  So today the whole family packed into one car and headed up to Perth to take a look round.

The open day was to mark 150 years of the Supreme Court in WA and was surprisingly popular!  Our first stop, the Old Court House (1837), now the Old Court House Museum was packed with visitors.  We shuffled through with the throng.  The building had been used for many purposes over the years, a school, a concert venue, a public meeting venue as well as a court (it was used as the Arbitration court as late as 1963).   The architect was Henry W. Reveley, a civil engineer who was one of the earliest architects in the colony.  I was amused to see that in the days when the building shared the functions of school and court:

When the court was in session the pupils, under the stern gaze of their teacher,  retired to the gallery where they followed the proceedings in absolute silence.

The old court house 1837 : a brief history / Neville Green

Bishop Dom Salvado of New Norcia held the most memorable  [ibid] concert in the building, having walked 100km from that monastic town  to give a piano recital to raise funds for the Benedictine Mission.

Supreme Court of Western AustraliaWe moved into the main court building (designed by  John Grainger, who I was surprised to learn was the father of Percy Grainger).  There were many visitors and many court staff acting as guides.  We followed the arrows and went into Court 3 where we were disconcerted to find that one of the guides was Supreme Court Judge Justice Ralph Simmonds, who gave an informative and amusing talk about the operation of the court!  The court was packed, and he did note that it was unusual to have five defendants at one time, especially with children amongst them – a family had sat in the dock to listen to the talk! The number of judges has increased over the 150 years from 1 to 22, however if they had kept pace with population growth there would now be 150! [The Supreme Court of Western Australia 1861 -2011 : administering justice for the community for 150 years / The Honourable Wayne Martin, Chief Justice of Western Australia, p31].  We were also referred to May it please your honour / Geoffrey Bolton  if we wished to know more (and as a good librarian I noted it all down!).

I made a short detour to see the Law Library, in a wing added in 1987 and usually only open to eligible users,  before rejoining my family on the tour.  The old library in the old building had been converted into Judges’ rooms and a conference room.  A bank of what appeard to be cupboards in one room evidently conceal a wardrobe, kitchenette and bathroom – however we were informed that they did let the Judge go home at night! In the conference room we were facinated by a display telling of trial of Audrey Jacob for the shooting of Cyril Gidley at a ball in the neighbouring Government House Ballroom in 1925.  Audrey was acquitted, which seemed odd given the evidence presented, but then I remembered the hangman’s noose we’d seen in the Law Museum and thought perhaps the jury had not wished to see an obviously disturbed, and beautiful young woman hang…

In Court 1 we heard the end of a talk by Justice McKechnie, ABC TV’s documentary On trial had been filmed in that court, the programme goes to air next Thursday.  We were impressed that such senior members of the profession had welcomed the public into their workplace, emphasizing that the courts are our courts, and encouraging us to come and watch a trial.

We left that court down the steep stairs leading directly from the dock to the concrete, steel and security glass of the holding cells (renovated following a breakout in 2004) eventually exiting through the sally-port (what a lovely medieval name for the prisoners entrance!)

If you want to know more this edition of The law report is a good place to start!

We went on for a quick look at Government House ballroom (scene of the tragedy mentioned above but also of more happy memories) and two of the reception rooms in Government House, more rooms are usually opened but today only the Executive Council Room and the dining room, as they are preparing for the new Governor and have a rather important visitor coming later in the year

Sing Australia Tour of Victoria makes the Shepparton News!

November 8, 2010

I’ve been away at Sing Australia’s National Gathering in Melbourne (1300 attendees), followed by a Tour of Victoria (17 hardy souls 2 leaders, a driver and 3500km in a 24 seater minibus with luggage trailer!).  We managed to make the news in Shepparton! (We also were on the  Pride of the Murray when she became pride of Motown for the day – wait for the last few seconds of the clip). I had a good time but I was crook for most of the trip and wasn’t able to sing… ironic really!  Getting better now I’m home…

Shepparton News
05 Nov 2010


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