The Travelling Trooper Wonders What In The World Is Happening In This Picture

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This is Sir Redmond Berry. He stands in front of the Victorian State Library. This was the starting point of our tour. Berry donated a good chunk of books to the library. Hence the statue.

The tour started off with a bang. Our guide asked, “Would anybody care to guess what makes this the tallest building in Melbourne?”

“Because it has the most…STORIES!”

This was going to be a good tour.

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This is the Melbourne Gaol (jail). I was hoping to do a night tour, but none were running while we were in Melbourne. Part of the property is now used for events, apparently. Weird.

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This statue commemorates the 8 Hour Movement, which is why we have 8 hour work days today. The working class folk were being worked into the ground, working brutally long hours, until they finally got fed up and took a stand. Thanks, Australia!

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These ugly sheets are meant to act as a deterrent to keep possums from climbing the trees. Apparently they’re not very effective.

A pretty fountain that was donated by a famous company that starts with the letter C. Hence the shape of the fountain. I’m going to go with Coles, because I can’t remember which company it was at the moment.

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I also don’t remember who this Aboriginal individual was, but he did good things for Melbourne, so yay for him and his wife!

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Melbourne has some pretty fab graffiti!

Arcades are not as cool in Australia as they are in North America. Not a single video game in sight! I believe this was the Royal Arcade. Arcades are where you go to buy frou frou things. They’re Melbourne’s Yorkdale Mall.

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Federation Square was voted the ugliest building in Melbourne, but it’s actually a pretty awesome place. It’s environmentally friendly, houses several wicked museums, including the ACMI Museum, offers free wi-fi, and is a great meeting place for locals and tourists alike.

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And so ends our tour.

Some other highlights:

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Somewhere in Chinatown.
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Centre Place
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The Arts Centre. Yes, that is supposed to look like a tutu, because that’s where the tutu-ed people perform.

Next up: The National Gallery of Victoria before meeting up with Dan and Lisa, some friends from the Sandpit of Abu Dhabi, and their bebe, Cooper.

The NGV was showcasing art from all over the world. This mammoth piece out front was a perfect introduction, combining religions from different parts of the world.

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These lanterns are made entirely of natural materials and recycled bottles.

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I won’t pretend to understand couture fashion, but these dresses look pretty damn fly. I mean, I can appreciate them as a piece of art…just not as a piece of fashion. Particularly THESE ones…

But then they take it too far, and I just want to burn this thing.

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I’d never heard of British Surrealist painter, Reuben Mednikoff, but he apparently worked in the US and Canada for a while. I really liked this piece. It’s called “The king of the castle.” His explanation of the piece reads, “It represents the child’s phantasmagoric hesitation between leaving the mother’s womb or bed, and staying inside it. The imagery is simple (HARDLY!): a sharp-toothed mouth draws a huge tongue with the crowned child-king at its very tip—the bad mother who has released the child too early–while the belly displays a bed with a mother and child clasping each other and a little cot occupied by a baby safely hidden away under the mother’s bed–the good, protective mother .”

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I thnk Mednikoff had mommy issues. I feel like Medknikoff was the first-born in his family, and his mother pretty much left him on his own to roam free and do as he pleased as the “king”–mainly because she had no idea what she was doing. But this really messed him up because he wanted more affection from his mommy. She then learned from her mistakes with the emotionally dead Mednikoff, and was very nurturing and loving with her subsequent children. It’s time to move on, Mednikoff. Let it go, man.

This piece is called “Oedipus.” I really like the combination of straight and curved lines. It’s such a weird picture. I have so many questions. Where are they? Is the one on the right Oedipus? What’s up with his facial expression? And if he’s Oedipus, is the other dude the sun? If so, this piece is really bizarre. I mean, Oedipus looks like he’s lusting for the sun, but the sun is all, “No means no, Oedipus.” And the fact that the cloth covering the sun’s wang clearly indicates what he was reaching for. Oedipus got too close to the sun, and then the sun shot him down.

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Get a room, you guys! Very Picasso-esque, though.

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Speaking of Picasso…

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Weeping Woman was a “postscript” to Guernica. She was drawn from a figure that stands on the far left of that painting.

Another surrealist. This one, titled, “The dressmaker,” was by a friend of Picasso’s, Oscar Dominiguez from Spain.

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Monet’s in the house, everybody! This is Vetheuil, a farming community on the river Siene. I wish I could see the world the way these guys saw it.

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Boulevard Montmartre in Paris, painted by Camille Pisarro.

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Unfortunately the reflection of the light ruined this shot. The look of fear, terror, and fascination on the boy’s face as he’s being rescued by the firefighter was absolutely brilliant. It’s called “The Rescue” by John Everett Millais.

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I got chills looking at this one. And no, it wasn’t because of the fact that she looks a lot like Winona Ryder. This is Queen Esther, wife of Persian king, Xerxes. She was forbidden from seeing her own husband without being summoned by him. She found out from a relative named Mordecia, who worked at the Persian court, that a nutjob named Haman planned to kill all of the Jewish people in the kingdom. Mordecai urged her to go visit the king and risk her life to save the kingdom. A small plaque at the bottom of the frame reads, “And so I will go unto the king, which is not according to the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

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So that look that you see on her face, that’s a look of determination. Fearless determination. I love it.

The artist here reused a 19th century marble statue of a nymph. He carved away at the statue until all that remained were these interlocking chains. It’s called “Untitled,” but I’d call it “Ugh.”

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I COULD STARE AT THIS FOR HOURS. I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS FOR THE ARTIST! Why does that man have the head of a donkey? Who is the little man flashing the jackass and his woman? Why is he flashing them? Are those rabbits evil? Are the little fairies riding them evil? Is the naked guy their leader? Is this an attack? What’s with the creeper peering over the woman’s shoulder? How did this woman come to fall in love with a jackass? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

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This one is just sad. And eerie. Ravens are always eerie though. The title of this one is “Anguish.”

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The colours in the sky in this one reminded me of Monet. It’s of the entrance to Glen Etive, which I assume is in Scotland, since painter Waller H. Paton is Scottish.

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I love the water in this one. It’s of Mount St. Michael in Cornwall, and it’s by Clarkson Stanfield.

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Pine trees represent longevity, virtue, honour, wisdom, and strength in Korea. They are also mediators between Heaven and Earth. The small sign beside the photograph explains that “Bae uses the pine trees as a symbol of perseverance in a world where change and modernisation are constant.” Whatever you say. I just think it’s a beautiful photo.

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In Shinto Buddhism, deer are sacred animals. The crystal beads fragment the surface of the deer into a million different images that apparently “reflect the past and project into the future.” I look at it more as reflecting the different ways in which we view each other and the world. The world and all of its living creatures and land masses/land formations exist around us and despite us; we choose to view this world, interact with it, and understand it in a million different, often conflicting ways. But underneath it all, it’s one simple world.

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This might have been my favourite piece in the whole museum. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good shot of it without any light reflection. It’s by a Malaysian artist called Yee I-Lann. Lann is from a  region in Malaysia called Sabah, where many Indigenous Kadazandusun Malaysians have been displaced due to urbanisation and palm oil plantations. This image tells their creation story, in which Huminodun, the daughter of god Kinoingan, is sacrificed to ensure the fertility of the land. Tragic, but beautiful.

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Once out of the NGV, it was off to the Hall of Remembrance. We’d passed by the Hall the previous day with Josue, but it was closed by the time we got there.

On the way, we learned the story of Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop. His story reminds me of the movie “Unbroken” in that it has so many unbelievable chapters, and in every one, Dunlop rose to the occasion. Not only did he go on to represent Australia in rugby, but he was also  renown in the medical world. His knowledge and skills in his field took him to the Middle East and Greece. He even pioneered new techniques to combat Cancer. He worked tirelessly with several health, education, and community organizations that improved the lives of people in Australia, Sri Lanka, the UK, and Thailand. Clearly, this was not a “Weary” man. The nickname comes from association. Dunlop –> tyre –> tired –> weary.

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Then in 1942, he was captured by the Japanese Army while commanding a hospital in Java. He was placed in charge of the prisoner-of-war camps there because of his leadership skills. A year later, he commanded the first Australians sent to work on the Thai section of the Thailand-Burma railway.

In 1945, Dunlop forgave his captors. He believed in healing, re-building, and looking forward. He devoted his subsequent years to helping former prisoners-of-war and their families, as well as re-building relations between Australia and Asia.

His plaque says, “A courageous leader and compassionate doctor, he restored moral in those terrible prison camps and jungle hospitals. Dunlop defied his captors, gave hope to the sick, and eased the anguish of the dying. He became, in the words of one of his men, ‘a lighthouse of sanity in a universe of madness and suffering.'”

It’s amazing to think that countless people, locals and tourists alike, probably walk by this man’s statue every day, and never bother to pay their respects. This man is a hero. He’s what we should all aspire to be.

The city of Melbourne cares a great deal about their war veterans and their contributions to various war efforts over the years. That is why it is illegal to build anything that obstructs the view of the Hall from downtown Melbourne.

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The Hall itself honours ALL soldiers, though; not just soldiers who have fought for Australia. That is why political leaders and soldiers from countries all over the world come here to pay their respects.

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The building was built so that on Remembrance Day, during the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, a beam of sunlight hits the floor of the main hall and makes its way across this memorial. This even is artificially recreated every day, though. If you’re lucky, as we were, you can be there to witness it.

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“These figures of father and son honour the courage and sacrifice which link two generations of Victorian service men and women who served and died in the World Wars 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.”

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From the Hall, we headed back to Federation Square to check out the Koorie Heritage Trust, which our tour guide had recommended. It celebrates the Koorie people in Victoria. The first floor consisted of paintings for sale by local artists, as well as a gift shop.

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The second floor featured video installations. You could listen to local Koorie people talk about their history or their daily lives. For example, Debbie Rose talks about growing up an Aboriginal child, but not looking Aboriginal, and not knowing her father.

Then there was Uncle Herb, who talks about learning to play the gumleaf (a specific type of leaf that, when you blow on it in a particular way, can produce musical sounds) from his grand uncle. He came 2nd on Australia’s Got Talent, has travelled the world to showcase his talents, and now leads workshops to teach others how to play the gumleaf.

The third floor was the Koorie Trust office, but it also showcased some artwork.

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We had JUST enough time to head over to ACDC Lane and Hosier Lane to check out some quality graffiti before meeting up with Dan and Lisa, some friends from the Sandpit of Abu Dhabi, and their bebe, Cooper.

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There were so many Foo Fighters concert posters here, I have no idea why. This was just a small sampling.

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Ummm…does this mean the same in Australia as it does where I come from?

Another fantastic day in Melbourne. Tomorrow, off to the Great Ocean Road!

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