Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Horse, National Gallery of Victoria

The Horse is a celebration of these magnificent animals and their relationships with man throughout history.
From Ancient Greece to modern day thoroughbreds, I was taken on a journey through the ages, as each room offered a different aspect of the horses impact on our lives.
Sculptures and oil paintings, photos and costumes filled the galleries. From dragon slaying, to chariot rides to the heavens, unicorns, and a 20 metre panorama of a funeral procession, the horse is portrayed in every way possible.

The racing room displayed racing photos, costumes and even a Melbourne Cup.
A ghostly drover reminded me of the huge part that horses play in Australia's history...
...his spirit steed watched over by Nolan's Ned Kelly.
What:  NGV International
Where: Ground Level, St Kilda Rd
When:  Daily 10:00am-5:00pm until 8th Nov.
How Much: FREE

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Arts Centre Melbourne - Theatres and Spaces Tour

We met our guide at the information desk and set off on our one hour tour of the theatres and spaces below the Arts Centre's landmark spire.
Our first stop was the plush raspberry interior of the State Theatre, current home of The Australian Ballet's Sleeping Beauty. The stage was beautifully framed with a set fit for a princess - no photos allowed. Arts Centre, Melbourne
With one of the largest stages in the world and seating for over 2,000, the stage sits five floors below ground. It is used for musicals, concerts, opera, and dance. 
I saw my first ever ballet performance here in 1995 - The Australian Ballet's production of The Competition.
Arts Centre, MelbourneThe  Amcor and State Theatre Lounges were refurbished in the 1990's. Memorabilia from the time was placed inside the resin walls and columns, including nuts and bolts, artists paint brushes, measuring tapes and film negatives showing images of the renovation. 464,000 marbles sit inside the transparent resin, giving the illusion of bubbles in water.
Arts Centre, Melbourne
Arts Centre, Melbourne

It is a beautiful space for a conference, though I'm not sure I could pay attention to what was being said, when there is so many incredible items to look at.
Arts Centre, Melbourne 
Even the carpet has an artistic touch, featuring the words 'Victoria Arts Centre', where the carpet meets the wall. The letters throw shadows that continue across the floor in the pattern of the carpet. 
Look closely. Can you see the words?
Arts Centre, Melbourne
We came out of the room, to the sounds of a piano playing in the Rehearsal Space next door. We ooh and aahed in whispers, as we imagined the pirouettes and pas de deux happening on the other side of those walls. 
Was it the Princess, woken by her Prince? We'll never know for sure...

We had a look inside the venues for dramatic productions, the large Playhouse Theatre and the more intimate Fairfax Studio. 
Back out in the Smorgon Family Plaza, an exhibition of costumes from previous performances of The Sleeping Beauty is on display near the box office. All of the levels have their own colour scheme and decor, from aubergine furnishings and gold leaf, to faux marble columns and indigenous art. The tour was informative and very interesting, with a lot of content packed into the one hour.
Arts Centre, Melbourne
The banner for Sleeping Beauty at the base of the spire had me thinking the Arts Centre looked like it too, had a tutu on.

Arts Centre, Melbourne
When:  Mon-Sat 11:00am
Why:arts, theatre
How Much: $20

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walhalla Town

"Below these rugged slopes
Where flows the mountain stream
They sought the golden seam
In this valley of the ghosts."

For a while there, when the gold ran out, it probably was the valley of the ghosts. From a bustling town, filled with thousands of gold miners and their families, the town now has only 21 permanent residents. 
Lucky them, I say. More beautiful surrounds to enjoy per person.
Walhalla, Gippsland
We arrived in Walhalla mid morning, it took about 2.5 hours from Melbourne. It was crisp and cool in the little town, hidden away in a valley and surrounded by mountains. After our train journey, we had plenty of time to explore the town.
Walhalla, Gippsland 
The town was easy to navigate, as we walked along the picture perfect Main Street. A shallow creek was alongside us, historic buildings all around.
Walhalla, Gippsland
Walhalla, GippslandWe followed a walking track up to the Long Tunnel Gold Mine.  We didn't do the mine tour due to limited time in town, but did get a glimpse inside the entrance and we were able to read some information boards in the Mine Museum. We'll visit the mine next time.
Walhalla, Gippsland
Walhalla, GippslandWe continued our walk along the Tramline Walkway, high above the town, to the start of the Australian Alps Walking Track. From here, you can walk all the way to  Canberra.  
If you wanted to.
Mt Kosciusko is 445km that way ->
We chose to walk down the steps and back to the Main St.
Walhalla, Gippsland
The sound of bagpipes greeted us, and we were  surprised gobsmacked to find a man. in a kilt. playing the bagpipes. on the clifftop. at the poppet head of the old mine shaft. 

Walhalla, Gippsland
We stayed, we listened in awe, we chatted to this lovely little man, Richard Henry, who runs up the hill every weekend to play his pipes to the gorgeous town below. Just doing his bit for the tourists, but doing it in spectacular fashion and he is a fantastic addition to the town's unique personality. He's probably there during the holidays, as the train is running daily for two weeks.
Lots to see in Walhalla, and totally do-able in a daytrip. The historic train is definitely worth doing - I'll tell you about that in the next post.

What:  Walhalla  Town
Where: Walhalla
When:  Daily
Why: history
How Much: FREE  to walk around, but support the local businesses as much as you can and keep this town alive for another 100 years.
Related post: Walhalla Goldfields Railway

Walhalla Goldfields Railway

Bright and early we trundled off, freeway nearly all the way to Moe, then a scenic climb into the hills, with views of Mt Baw Baw along the way. 
Our train departed at 11:00 from Walhalla Station, a beautiful old steam train, lovingly restored and maintained by a group of volunteers.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway The sun was shining and the fresh mountain air filled our lungs. The seating was comfortable and the open windows made viewing the beautiful scenery much easier.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
The journey took us out of the station and into a steep descent, as the track followed alongside Stringer's Creek. The railway crossed eight wooden trestle bridges on its way to Thomson Station, six of those in the first kilometre.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway The track passed through narrow cuttings and next to vertical cliffs, incredibly close to the train. These cuttings were all made by hand, and with so much effort put in to get this railway operating in the first place, it's no wonder the members of  the WGR are keen to keep it going.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
At Thomson station, we stopped for 30 minutes. Enough time for a quick walk around the old bridge and the riverbank.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway

Walhalla Goldfields Railway
The Walhalla Rail Trail can be continued on foot or bike for the next 7km to the township of Erica. The WGR hopes to one day extend the railway line all the way there.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
It's pretty cold in this part of the world. On the day of our visit, the frosty morning dew was still hanging around at lunchtime. 
Rug up and enjoy the ride through this beautiful part of Victoria.
Walhalla Goldfields Railway
Where: Lake Mountain Rd
When: Wednesdays, weekends from 11:00 am (Daily during Spring School Hols)
Why: steam train, history
How Much:prices vary -  from $15 one way
Related post: Walhalla Town