Things I’ve Learned In Melbourne, Australia

Things I’ve learned in Melbourne

“I once sang ‘Summer Nights,’ from ‘Grease,’ at a bar in Melbourne with John Travolta. He looked cool singing the part of Danny – sitting in an armchair, smoking a cigar – while I got stuck playing Sandy.” Hugh  Jackman

When you are making a right turn in Melbourne, you do it from the left lane. It is so confusing.

Australian Rules Football ( footy ) is a combination of rugby, soccer, wrestling and ballet. They had the grand final in Melbourne the week before I arrived. They are “mad for footy” in Melbourne.

The Collins and Swanston Streets intersection in Melbourne was the first intersection in Australia to get a traffic light.

Here is the Australian Center of Contemporary Art.  (ACCA) It is closed today.


Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt died while swimming off the coast of Melbourne.  I never heard about this in the US. They built a memorial to him.  It was a municipal swimming pool. You can’t make this stuff up.

Melbourne was originally named Batmania after one of the founding colonists, John Batman.


The city government was going to get rid of the clocks at the Flinders St. station. The  Melburnians (yup) protested. They were not ready to give up “Meet me under the clocks”. The clocks are still there. (Photo-Sean Dirks)

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Laneways and arcades are as synonymous with Melbourne as street art and coffee. (one small laneway, urban art laneway)



The Block Arcade is one of the finest examples of a 19th Century shopping arcade. It is known for its impressive etched glass roof with decorative wrought iron and timber supports and has the largest mosaic floor area in Australia. (Block Arcade, Royal Arcade)


Melbourne is the third largest Greek city after Athens and Thessaloniki.


Here is the National Gallery Of Victoria. They are between exhibits.


During the gold rush of 1850 Melbourne became one of the wealthiest cities in the world.


There are fifty vinyl record stores in Melbourne. They have the most vinyl records left in the world.

Melbourne is the only city in the world to have five international standard sporting arenas. The city hosts some of the major sporting events of the world such as Australian Open, the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Grand Prix.

It also has  art, film, music and fringe festivals throughout the year.

Two things you can always talk about in Melbourne are sports and art, and sometimes even with the same people.


Melbourne had the first gay and lesbian radio station in the world.

If black is your color, Melbourne is your city. People love to wear black.

The Tramway system in Melbourne is the fourth largest in the world. It stretches along 244 kilometers and has 450 trams. There is a free tram that circles the city.

Bicycling is a good way to get around the city. If you run into trouble, there are cycle vending machines.


The Melbourne Museum has just opened a permanent exhibition called First People. It is done really well and gives us some insight in the Aborigine life in Australia. It is worth seeing.



The Queen Victoria Market is a good place to grab breakfast, lunch and souvenirs on the weekend. In fact as well as food you can buy just about anything.  A market is always a great way to soak up the culture of a city. Open Tuesday, Thursday -Sunday.


Lygon St. is Melbourne’s Littly Italy. Stroll down the street with block after block of Italian restaurants, cafes, bars and traditional shops.

There is no shortage of tattoo parlors and second-hand clothing stores  in Melbourne.

I wish that I had the time to go in to the Immigration Museum on Flinders St. It looked really interesting.

They do not play in Melbourne. (photo-Sean Dirks)011 - Australia - Melbourne DUI

Coliban Park ( an Australian sheep farm outside of Melbourne, is a good place to see sheep shearing, sheepdogs, and wild kangaroos.  Duncan, his wife Jess, his mother Rita and  their daughter show us around the farm. (Photo – kangaroos – Sean Dirks


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Melbourne has been named the world’s most livable city by the Economist magazine. I could live there.

Fly safe,


You Are Here – Street Art In Melbourne Australia

You Are Here   –  Street Art In Melbourne, Australia

“Some people want to make the world a better place. I just wanna make the world a better-looking place. If you don’t like it, you can paint over it!” Banksy (In Melbourne)


I guess what I love about street art is that it is art of the moment. It isn’t meant to be there forever.   You are here .  You can find these words on this spot on this wall.



The laneways covered in Melbourne street art have become one of the tourist attractions of the city.  I’m not the only person taking photos. The street artists  here work in all mediums from brushes,  spray paint, stencils, street sculptures,  paste ups,  stickers,  and installations.


It’s the first time I have seen street sculpture.  It is small and hard to find – like  beach treasures.   Maybe as street art becomes more accepted  and mainstream,  artists have to find more creative ways to tell their stories. (soccer ball, but is it art?, eternity)




One of the main mural streets  was painted over in bright blue by a street artist.  The anti establishment street art  movement? or just someone who had a lot to say in blue?   It is already painted over.


I loved all the street art quotes and poetry.


There are a lot of references to literature and history . (founding fathers painted with Aborigine faces, koalas)



I love the  outdoor galleries.



Tagging seems less popular. I hated to see some cool piece tagged over by jealousy or stupidity.  I don’t usually mind graffiti but I do when it is covering street art.  Seems a bit like a street art oxymoron.


“Do art not tags” is the name of a graffiti education presentation being offered  in schools within the city of Melbourne. Actors visit classroom and provide information about the differences between graffiti and street art and how different choices can lead to different consequences.


The best way to see Melbourne Street Art is with Melbourne Street Art  Tours.  The tours are given by street artists . You can join a group or hire them privately.


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My tour guide was Michael Fikaris.   He is an excellent artist as well. His portrait of Charles Bukowski was one of my favorites. He brought stickers and left them where he felt they needed to be.  He was very knowledgeable about the art, artists and their stories. (Charles and Michael, commissioned wall by Michael Fikaris, you know who with a twist)









The great thing about going with Melbourne Street Tours  is that you see art that you wouldn’t normally see. Some of the best stuff was in places I wouldn’t have gone to alone.  They know where to show you the good art and avoid the mediocre.



You walk by so much street art , when you are out exploring the city.  It is all colorful and fun, and hard to know where to look.





Street artists use the walls to raise social and political awareness, Others just want to show their artwork. Some are talented and some are enthusiastic.


Michael immediately points out  the interesting pieces. There are some good artists working out on these streets and it was great to have Michael show them to me. I was getting overwhelmed with so much street art on one wall.  I definitely would have missed a lot doing it on my own.


Melbourne Street Tours works out of Blender Studios.  You end with a tour of the studios and meet some of the artists.  There are pieces for sale but no pressure to buy.  Of course I got home and wished that I had bought more.  They also run street art workshops and school programs.


This was the first thing I did in Australia. It turned out to be one of my favorite things. They also made me feel very comfortable on my first day in their country.  It set the tone for a wonderful trip. Whether you are visiting or if you live in Melbourne,  I recommend going to see the street art  with Melbourne Street Tours. Even If you pass these streets everyday, I guarantee you will see new things with them.


Fly safe,




Things I Have Learned In Australia

Things I’ve Learned In Australia

“The bigger the hat, the smaller the property.” Australian Proverb

We drive on the “right side” (left)  but they drive on “the correct side”.   So, in a Mcdonalds drive through in Australia, is the order window on the right or the left? I don’t know because I did not eat at Mcdonalds in Australia.

They also apparently walk on the correct side. I wondered why I was always walking against the foot traffic. I ran into a marathon in the park. That was tricky.

Kangaroos cause more driving problems in Australia than bad drivers and alcohol combined. They jump out and cause many accidents. If you hit one, first check the pouch to see If there are babies and then pull it over to the side of the road. (Bonorong Sanctuary, Tasmania)


Australians order coffee by length and thickness . You can have a long black, short black or a flat white . None of those work for me. I solved the problem by ordering a long black and then asking for a little milk . Australians like their coffee strong.  They have Starbucks,  but they are quick to tell you that their coffee is much better, and in Australia it is.

A didgeridoo is a musical instrument called a didgeridoo.

One third of Australia is desert.

Australia has the lowest precipitation of the world’s inhabited continents.

Queen Elizabeth is the head of state of Australia. Prince Harry was in Sydney for the Hundredth Anniversary of the Navy.  His family would like him to spend more time in Australia.

Voting is compulsory. If you do not vote you pay a fine.

You always lose a day when flying from America to Australia. You gain it coming back but not really because you are in a stupor just trying to stay up.

There are 69 varieties of kangaroo in Australia. (Bonorong Sanctuary, Tasmania)


Almost every animal in Australia has a pouch. (Bernadette and wombat, Bonorong Sanctuary, Tasmania)


” So if you are in the desert in Yulara, just check your bed for creepy crawly things and call the front desk”. (Uluru)


Australians always say sorry like the British even if it isn’t their fault.

Catcher In The Rye, Farewell To Arms and  Brave New World  were all banned in Australia in the 1950’s.

Australia has never had a serious civil disobedience.

Waltzing Matilda by  Banjo Paterson, Is  the unofficial song of Australia. He is the only nineteenth century Australian named after a stringed instrument.

In Queensland they say, “beautiful one day, perfect the next.” (Great Barrier Reef)\


A Billabong is a watering hole.

The bush is anything that is not the city. I spent the afternoon in the bush.The outback is everything else. As in,  I have been to the outback of the United States.

Camels were used to build the railroad from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then set free. This is the only country in the world with wild one hump dromedaries  running free in the central and northern deserts. Dubai imports racing camels from Australia.

It’s pronounced “Cans” and “Melbin” ( Cairns and Melbourne). It’s pronounced Sydney, Hobart, Alice Springs, Yulara and  Port Douglas.

Australians  always have a  near death experience story often involving a crocodile or a snake. Today our driver in Port Douglas  said his son found a fifteen foot python in the toilet.

Eighty per cent of all Australian deaths by crocodile are alcohol related. The crocodiles don’t drink.

Australian cities are safe and clean and you can not only brush your teeth but drink water from the tap.

There is the same rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne that there is between NY and LA. They have the same bad jokes about each other. (Melbourne)


Melbourne had the Olympics in 1956 Sydney had it in 2000. (Sydney Opera House)


The first European settlers in Australia drank more alcohol per person than any other community in the history of mankind.

More land in Australia is occupied by pubs than mines.

In 1954, Bob Hawke made it into the Guinness Book Of World Records for drinking 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds. Bob Hawke went on to become the Prime Minister of Australia.

There are 1500 species of spiders, 6000 species of flies, 4000 species of ants and 350 species of termites in Australia.

There are more than 150 million sheep in Australia, and only some 20 million people. (Tasmania)


Australia has more animals and insect that can kill you than anywhere else.

The ten most poisonous snakes in the world are Australian. (tiger snake – top five Bonorong Sanctuary, Tasmania)


Most of the plant and animal life found in Australia exist nowhere else in the world. (Tasmanian Devil, Bonorong Sanctuary, Tasmania)


Australia is the largest landmass in the world. It is the only continent that is one country.

This is the only country that was started as a prison. When we achieved our independence in 1776 England had to find a new place to send their criminals. (Penal Colony, Port Arthur, Tasmania)


Their minimum wage is much higher than ours. Tipping is not expected ” because they are paid well”.  Everyone knows that tipping is part of our culture, so they do seem to expect Americans to tip. If you like the service, ten per cent is fine.

Australians are the biggest gamblers  on the planet.

Australia has the world’s oldest rainforest, very old fossils and rocks and the and the world’s oldest people -the Aborigines. (Daintree Rainforest)


Canberra is the capital of Australia. I never remember this.

Crocodiles can live up to 200 years.

Water flows down the drain in the opposite direction in Australia because it is the Southern Hemisphere.

We have hurricanes and they have cyclones.

In 1805 British law gave the Europeans the right  to punish Aborigines in any way they chose to. In 1838 the law was repealed.  The killing  went on for another century.

Central Australia has no surface water.

Ugg boots or as local call them ‘very ugly boots’ are an Australian design bought by an American company,  where a sheepskin has been turned inside out and made into a boot.There is an Australian Company called Emu where the boots are made and owned by Australians.

The sports capital of the world has 70 percent of its total population participating at least once a week in a particular recreational activity or sport. Australia also ranks in the top five for obesity.

The Australian Coat Of Arms has a kangaroo and an emu on it. The reason being, kangaroos and emus can’t go backwards. They can only walk/hop forward. Australians eat the animals on their Coat of Arms – maybe because they can’t run backwards?

Australia’s first police force was a band of 12 of the most well behaved convicts.

The ‘dingo fence’ in Australia is the longest fence in the world (5,530km) – about twice as long as the Great Wall of China. (Dingos are wild dogs)

According to US Customs in Los Angeles, Tim Tams (Australian biscuits) are one of the main things that Americans bring back from Australia. It wasn’t just us. No wonder customs was so quick. They are not looking for cookies.

What I knew about vegemite before I came to Australia, was that it was something that a muscle-bound bread salesman from Brussels, offered in the form of a sandwich because he came from the land down under. (Lets see who gets this reference).  What I know now  is that it is a salty yeast spread that is way too strong for wimpy Americans like myself.

The Coastal Studies Unit at the University of Sydney has counted 10,685 mainland beaches in Australia. (Bondi Beach, Sydney)


Though Australians sound like the British, their easy-going, fun-loving, honest,  kind personalities, make them among the most likable people I have met in the world.

Fly safe,