A Virtual Tour of Melbourne
[email protected]
A Virtual Tour to Marvelous Melbourne: The Most
Livable City Down Under
Presented by
Maribel Steel
Moderated by
Dawn Turco
You’re listening to seminars at Hadley. This seminar
is A Virtual Tour to Marvelous Melbourne: The Most
Livable City Down Under, presented by Maribel Steel,
moderated by Dawn Turco.
Dawn Turco
Good afternoon and welcome to today's
[email protected] I'm Dawn Turco, and I am
moderating today's seminar. We are going down
under. The title of today's seminar is A Virtual Tour to
Marvelous Melbourne: the Most Livable City Down
Under. I'm delighted to bring back a presenter from a
prior seminar, and perhaps you'll recognize the name,
Maribel Steel. Maribel did a seminar with us last year
on Blogging: The 10 Tips to Get You Started. So she
is an experienced blogger, author, inspirational
speaker, and today a tour guide to her beloved city.
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I'm embarrassed to tell you, but we're friends, I'll tell
you the way. I'm embarrassed to say that my first
knowledge about Australia came from Crocodile
Dundee. So for the Americans online here, those
movies are a few years old, so it's a good time for
updating. And I so one to visit Australia one day, and
after visiting with Maribel, I have added her city to the
list of must-sees. So anyway, we are going to get
started. And, Maribel, I will be turning the microphone
over to you in just a sec, so get yourself settled. And
everybody else, welcome today’s
[email protected] We are on our way to
Australia. Maribel, the microphone is yours.
Maribel Steel
Aha, I'm here. I'm now looking down into my cockpit
and ready to take you across the oceans. As you
relax there, thank you all for coming. And, yes, we're
in Melbourne. Wow, that was quick. So thank you,
Dawn, and I’m looking forward to bringing some
beautiful sensations, sights, textures, sounds of
Melbourne. Yes, we have improved and advanced a
little bit from Crocodile Dundee. And one of the things,
we don't have kangaroos jumping around in the
streets. What I'm going to do here is I've got some
notes that I’m going to read from. And my
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presentation today consists of a brief intro of why I am
the visually impaired tour guide of our family.
Then I'm going to give you some tips before you travel
and some things that you might find handy to
know. Then I'm just going to deliver a brief early
history of Melbourne. And then we get into the mix of
our or by getting around, and we're going to talk about
some things of interest. And we're going to be
leading up to a very special section that Dawn is
helping me with, and I think I'll just keep that up my
sleeve at the moment because I'm so looking forward
to this very unique thing we're going to be doing. And
near the end, I'm going to sort of recap on some of
the places we've been. And we're going to then hand
over for some questions and answers.
So, I am locked in as far as I know, and we're going to
get started. So thank you everybody for coming, and
introduction now is I'm Maribel Steel. I live in
Australia. I was actually born in the UK, but I
immigrated with my family to Melbourne when I was
about six. So I've been here most of my life, apart
from a few other places I've lived with family. Where I
am now, I live in a beautiful leafy suburb of Melbourne
called Peron, and that is about 4 miles out of the
central district. So it's very close. It's a lovely tram
ride away, about a 25-minute tram ride. And we're
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going to talk about trams in a little while. So it's fairly
central. So there is definitely something for everyone
in this beautiful, vibrant city.
I'm looking at my notes here… The city is very
friendly, and I also find it very easy to get around,
which is one the reason why I asked Dawn would she
like to do this presentation with me because people
may not know how accessible Melbourne is. I find it
very easy. It's a fun and vibrant city. And when I'm
out and about, it's not hard to get help if I'm feeling a
bit lost. I find that Melbournians a very relaxed
people, they're friendly, and they often will be quite
astute. They can tell if somebody is needing a hand
and they're not afraid to come up and ask.
So I am often standing on a street corner, which
doesn't sound too good, feeling a bit lost, wondering
where I'm going. Then someone might come up and
offer some help, so that's great. And what’s lovely is
that you get chatting and you get to meet lots of
people. Melbourne is a very multicultural city, so
there are lots and lots of sounds of international
tourists. The smells of international food is quite
beautiful as you walk around the streets, and t's just a
really cruisey place. So it’s great for the visitor that
has never been because you can just take your
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time. It's really, really relaxed. You can walk along
the river.
We're going to get into some of the places that we
can go in a little while. But I guess with this intro, I'm
just trying to portray that it's worthwhile coming. As I
said, most people are aware of access. If you've got
a white cane or a guide dog, they're very helpful. Just
passing through my notes here… Accessibility – I
wanted to let you know that in terms of accessibility
here in the city of Melbourne, we're talking today
about the CBD more than say travelling outside of
Melbourne, which in an hour’s direction, you can go to
lots and lots of different places. But today, we’re just
staying in the heart of Melbourne. And basically on
every street corner where there are traffic lights, we
have audible beepers. So you can feel pretty
confident in getting across any road.
We have all the tactile markers on the pavements
leading to the important places like crossings, bus
stops, tram stops. We have them on the ground in
buildings to lead you to front doors. The tactile
markers run along in stations to help you get to
different platforms. They're just everywhere, so it's
great to have that tactile assurity. When I'm crossing
roads, I have a little bit of vision. I didn’t mention that
I have RP, retinitis pigmentosa, so I function using
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contrasts. And I find the tactile markers on the
ground very helpful in guiding me because I could see
a little bit of those white bumpy bits, and that will
guide me to where I need to go.
There are also braille displays in certain places, and
especially in lifts. So if you're in a building and you're
used to using braille, a lot of the lifts now have audio
as well as braille buttons to find your way around. So
in terms of getting around like that, I find that I've
been to other places like France and other places in
Europe, but they have bollards in the way where
you're walking down the street. Whereas, here it's
pretty clear. We're also quite an expansive city. In
terms of our streets, they can be quite wide which
were built in the 1850s because they were allowing
for the bollard carriages and carts to be able to turn in
the streets. So we have very wide streets.
How I began to be a tourist in my home city came
from the fact that when I went to France, I was
traveling back on the plane and I was thinking about,
wow, the places we've been, and wasn’t it great that I
researched before I went. And I suddenly thought, I
don't think I know Melbourne as well as I know
Paris. I had so many websites and so many things to
see and do written on a list so that when we were
there, I wouldn't run out of ideas. And although we
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couldn't do all of them, I did feel well prepared that if
something came up and we were in a certain district,
then maybe we could go into this thing.
So I was quite shocked with myself that I didn't really
know my own city. So I promptly decided to appoint
myself as the family tour guide, and what I discovered
has been absolutely amazing as we have gotten out
and about and poked around like tourists in our
hometown to really appreciate a lot of the things that
are here. There are so many things we never knew,
and at the end of my talk, I am going to give Dawn a
list of several websites of some of the places that we
talk about, and then you can follow that up later and
read through.
Particularly one, there is a great audio on Melbourne
Central, and I'll be giving you the link to that. So
that's what I did. I just decided that I’d have to
subscribe to some emails, and week by week I started
to comb through what was here and would drag my
family out. And my friends went, wow, we didn't know
that existed either. So before long, I had everybody
coming along. So that's a little bit of the intro. And
we're going to move on to what I have as part two
which is before you leave, some things that you may
want to know.
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Take a little breath as a change papers. I'm using my
CCTV here on a negative background to read my
notes, because these will help me remember what I
want to talk about. Part Two: Tips and Info Before
You Leave. So, where exactly is Melbourne? Well,
first Australia has six states and two territories. The
population of Australia itself is 23,851,658, with one
more coming very soon when my grandson is born in
about a couple weeks’ time. Melbourne itself is the
capital city of the state of Victoria, and we are in the
southeastern part of Australia. So we're just below
New South Wales, and we're just above the state of
Tasmania.
So in Melbourne, we have a population of 4.1
million. There are 31 municipalities within this area,
which is just in Melbourne. So I've found some
interesting facts that I thought you might find
interesting too. There are approximately 805,000
people that use the city daily. So these people
commuting, tourists, business people, shops retail –
no wonder it's a hub of activity because there's just so
much going on. We also receive over one million
international visitors each year. So obviously there's
something to see here.
I’ve got point number two – how long is the flight from,
say, New York as a guide. Well, the flight time from
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New York to Melbourne, and I like this Dawn because
it has minutes, is 21 hours and 13. So don't be
late. What are the best times to travel in terms of the
seasons? Well, don't forget that our seasons are
opposite to the northern hemisphere, so you need to
just take that into consideration when you're planning
the trip and what you might want to do here. For
instance, your winter is our summer, and your spring
is our autumn. So we are just coming out of the tail
end of winter, thank goodness. It's been a cold one.
When you come will also depend on what you're
coming to do. So for instance, I would say the best
months, the kinder months in terms of our extreme
temperatures, because it can get very hot and very
cold, the autumn months for us are March to
May. And these are pretty good times to come
out. There are lots of festivals going on, lots of events
that don't happen during the year. The other good
reason is that the locals and the children are back at
school. So we have our big long holiday from the
December to February, that's our summer six-week
vacation.
And sometimes in January, which is our height of
summer, it can be a bit quiet around here because
people have gone away. But then that might be a
great time if you want to come and poke around
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because there are a few less people. The other good
time to visit is inspiring which is September to
November when it’s just starting to warm up a little
because winter here can actually get cold. It's been
the coldest winter here I think just this one that we're
coming out of for the last 20 years or something. We
do get snow on the mountains that are just outside of
Melbourne a couple of hours away. So you can come
for skiing too if you want, but maybe you've got better
places there for snow.
So that's just some of the times that I would suggest
you might want to visit. Autumn and spring are pretty
good. Now, I have a tip here. It says pack for all
seasons when coming to Melbourne. It's quite known
here; the locals have a saying that if you wait a while,
the weather will change. We can tend to get four
seasons in one day. We can have a plummet of
temperature of 20°. So it's good to bring a shower
coat, an umbrella, maybe a warm jumper, and your
shorts and a T-shirt. These things will get you
by. That’s worth knowing.
The other tip I have is a bit like what I did for going
overseas is research first. Subscribe to a couple of
our local websites, which I'll give you the links later,
because it really does help know what's there. And
just spend a few weeks in advance combing through
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some stuff, getting to know the place. It will certainly
help you when you arrive because the sounds of
places won't be so new to you, and you'll have a bit of
better orientation to our landscape. And I've got why
come to Melbourne. Hmm, good question. Well, you
can have fun here. It's a pretty fun place.
There are really so many choices, depending on if
you want to go to the beach, do the arts, walk around,
have fun, eat, gorge on beautiful food. We are coffee
mad here in Melbourne, so there are just cafes
galore. And we have beautiful architecture dating
back to the 1800s which is about the latest you'll get
here. It's fairly easy to get around is another reason
for coming. Why it's easy to get around is because
our city is built on a system called the Hoddle Grid,
and that just means that our streets run parallel to
each other. And so it just makes the CBD very
simple.
Once you orientate yourself to the center, you're
going to just go in parallel lines to where you need to
get to. One little thing though is be aware that there
are lots of pedestrians on mobile phones in the city,
and I find them a little bit of a hazard. I do have a few
collisions because they're looking at their phone,
which maybe isn't just for Melbourne, but it's
something to be aware of. And we also have bi-car in
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the city. So that means they're quite a few cyclists
whizzing around. So just be aware that you need to
keep an ear out for those as well.
The other reason to come, like I said, it's a feast for
the senses. There really are places where you can
touch and smell or taste so many things, which I'm
going to suggest in just a minute, and the music and
buskers are everywhere. Melbourne just pulses
through the city streets with the sound of music. Oh,
that sounds like a good title for a film. It's
everywhere, on corners, in Bourke Street, in the
markets, it's really lovely, music from all different
cultures. And also art – there's world class art
here. Exhibitions that we often go to are brought out
here from all around the world.
So even though we are quite a distance away, I do
feel very in touch with the world with all these things
that come across as exhibitions in our city. And also
Melbourne known as the UNESCO City of
Literature. We are the creative city. And the last
reason to come is because your US dollar will go a lot
further, so you'll get more value for your buck. And
you might be interested to know, as a local person
myself being blind, there are benefits that I get in
terms of accessibility. I get free public transport
because I use a special travel card for the blind and
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vision impaired. So I can get on trams, trains, buses
and country travel for free, which is great.
I only have to pay half fare taxis when I go places, so
that helps me heaps. And I have a companion card
which means that whoever is my sighted helper that
comes with me to an event, to a performance, or to
the cinema, a gallery, any place like that, they get in
for free as my sight of companion, and then I pay my
concession. So that is a pretty good deal. Now, that
is for locals, and I don't think that’s for visitors. But I
was just pointing that out because it helps to know
how embraced I feel as someone with a disability
living in Melbourne.
And my last tip before you get here is being realistic
with your time, so being aware that we need extra
time. To get the best out of your trip, narrow down
your choice of what you want to do, and really enjoy
those things in the heart of Melbourne, rather than
trying to spread yourself too thin and not really settling
in to those delights that you could just take a little
longer to enjoy. So there are my tips. Oh, I have one
little fact before we move onto our brief history.
Here's a funny thing – in 1910, 20,000 people came to
watch the famous Harry Houdini dive into the Yarrow
River, which is our river here. He was locked in
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chains as he normally did, and he dived in from the
Queen's Bridge. And after 25 seconds, he came up
laughing. Well, I don't think I'm going to try that. So
we're going to move right along. And I hope you don't
mind a little time check on my little talking watch.
Okay, whoa. Doesn’t time fly when you're having
fun? I have a brief history. I'm wondering whether to
do that because we have this special thing to play
you. Maybe I'll just quickly talk about a couple of
things, and rush into what to do.
So basically to give you, the Yarrow River is our
river. It is an aboriginal word, yarrow-yarrow which
means river that flows. And it winds along the banks
where our city is built. Basically, we were built from
the Gold Rush days which is where Melbourne got its
wealth and became known as one of the richest cities
in the world. That was in the 1850s. In 1801 and
1803, Matthew Flinders circumnavigated the
continent. So he's the guy that we named our Flinder
Street Station after. You may have heard of Flinder
Street Station. It's the main area, and it's right in the
heart of Melbourne that people can travel to and
from.
Now, I’m going to move straight into some of the
things here. Thank you, and I hope you're sitting back
and, yes, still waiting to know but what do we do in
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the heart of Melbourne? Okay, well, I've told you
Melbourne’s vibrant. Yes. I've said come
prepared. Yes. Now, we're going to start in
Federation Square which is a beautiful place. It's right
in the heart of Melbourne, and it's buzzing and
vibrant, center of our city. It's across the road from
Flinder Street Station where you might find yourself
coming out from wherever you've been, to the airport,
or where you're staying in the heart of Melbourne.
Now, my first tip here is to pick up the Melbourne
booklet at the tourist Visitor Center which is right
there. It’s easy to find. I did this recently, and I found
that there's a booklet that comes out each season,
and inside it has discount coupons. So you can get
some discounts to some of the things going on in the
city. It's well worth picking up this book from the
Melbourne Visitors Center, which is open seven days
a week. Now, how you get around Melbourne is
either on foot, there's a shuttle bus, and there are
trams. So you can stroll in and take the delicious
smells of coffee and food. You can listen out for the
buskers and the music.
But what I've found is that there are walking tours,
and there are several actually to choose from. When
I read them online, I was really excited, and I'm going
to be trying some of these myself. So when you go
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online, you can also download an app for iPhones
that gives you a guide to follow certain destinations
depending on the walking tour you've chosen. So
there are brochures on the web that you can also
download and read through. Some of them you can
walk through.
There are 471 [Inaudible 00:26:09] days of
parkland. That's a lot, but I wouldn't do that all in one
day. So if you’re doing a walking tour, that's
great. You can just follow that guide. The other way
to get around is called the Melbourne Visitor's Shuttle
Bus. And it's a hop on, hop off service. It costs about
$10 for the weekend, and it has 13 stops along key
city destinations. So that's a pretty great way to get
around. It also has an onboard commentary, so you'll
be able to ask the bus driver about places, and I'm
sure he’d be very helpful. It runs very regularly, and
it's well worth trying out getting around.
So exploring with all the senses – we have old
arcades and quaint laneways dating back to the
1800s. There are beautiful cathedrals and historic
buildings. When I go inside, you can really feel the
ambience, very beautiful. We have a lovely arts
center, and outdoor sculptures to feel. There is also
the waterfront and the river where you get a beautiful
ambience of the city. You can walk and rest in some
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of our lush parks and gardens. Botanical Gardens is
one of our favorites.
And there are amazing galleries. And my tip here is
that if you want to go into a gallery, I would go to the
gift shop because you can actually touch the
merchandise. So sometimes in the galleries, they
represent what’s on exhibition, and obviously you
can't touch the exhibition. But you can certainly go
into the gift shop and have a little feel around. And
naturally, you can shop ‘til you drop. Melbourne is
just a hive of retail therapy. I'll come with you. Just
tell me when you're here, I'll come. Now, the other
way to get around are trams, and there is a free city
trams that goes around the center with a commentary
as well.
So any of those forms of transport are pretty easy.
There's a little treat that if you wanted to splurge out,
you can book a romantic dinner for two on a colonial
tram restaurant which is a very private, beautifully
decked out 1920s tram, plush, plush interior. I know
because we've done this one time for Valentines. It
was just a beautiful experience, very special. There's
food galore in Melbourne. Melbournians love dining
out, and there are actually 145,000 café or restaurant
seats, so that shows you, we’re pretty serious about
dining out.
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You can go down the charming laneways, and there
are block arcade, the royal arcade with Gog and
Magog which are some sculptures that strike on the
hour. I'm just buzzing through here. We've done the
retail therapy. And there is street art which is –
people would call it graffiti in other places, but
Melbourne calls it street art. They are certain
laneways that have been approved for artists to spray
their beautiful artwork onto the walls as huge murals.
So Queen Victoria Market has wonderful to sit in
[Inaudible 00:30:03] open air market. It has tours,
and there's a sensory treat. You can do a 2 hour tour
for $50, and it just takes you around. With the smells,
tastes, the sounds, it's just a vibrant thing to do.
We have beer tours, and in July there's even a truffle
festival. Wow. It's the largest truffle festival outside of
Europe. Well, there you go. I haven't been to that
one yet. I think we might. Now, I’ve got here we’re
going to go to our special, special feature for today
before I run out of time, Dawn. And know you'll be
looking at the time. So how about I hand back to you
and we introduce our special feature that we're going
to play for you now.
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Dawn
Thank you, Maribel. This is Dawn. I've got the
microphone back. Folks, time to listen sharp. I'm
going to play – Maribel went on a walkabout, I guess,
and we are going to experience a little bit of the
city. There are sections where there are lots of city
noise is going on, so you'll need to listen sharp, and
then there are other places where it's a lot quieter. So
I invite you to just sit back and we'll join Maribel and
her friend – I believe Harry was with you – on the
walkabout Melbourne. So give me one second to get
us launched. Here were go folks.
[Recording starts 00:31:37]
Announcer
Beginning of album.
Harry
We're just coming into Federation Square.
Maribel
The meeting point for many people. When you live in
Melbourne, this is often the place we'll meet.
Harry
Hi, I'm here in Federation Square. Actually, I'm with
Loraine and she's a barista. Hello, Loraine.
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Loraine
Hi, how're you going?
Harry
Yeah, good. I'd be interested to know what it's like for
you working in the heart of Melbourne.
Loraine
It's quite exciting most of the time. There's always
something on. There’s always things happening in
Melbourne. It's quite a vibrant city. There’s always
things to do, places to see, events on.
Harry
I noticed at the gallery behind us here, there's pretty
much a different show every couple of weeks, isn't
there?
Loraine
Yes, that's correct. Yeah. And is a beautiful city with
the river running right through the center of it.
[Singing]
Maribel
So we're in Kirra Gallery, my favorite gallery because
everything is made of glass, which sounds a bit
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dangerous for someone who's blind. And although I
may not see the colors, I can certainly see these
incredible waves of glass in their different shapes.
And it's just a place we like to come. It's free. There's
a coffee place just nearby, and it's just nice to see
some things. And this is one of the places where I get
to do that. From Federation Square, we walk past
St. Paul's cathedral, down to Swanston Street where
carriages of beautiful horses wait to take visitors
around the streets of Melbourne.
Harry
I'd like to know what breed they are.
Woman
They're a Percheron crossed with a standard
breed. So they're and very strong horse, but light
enough to be in the city because you don't want them
too big to try and go around the streets.
]
Maribel
And Percherons have got a very gentle nature, don't
they?
Woman
They have. That's why we've got them because
they’re just very sweet.
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Harry
They're the best. We have friends who are
Percherons.
Maribel
Some of our best friends are Percherons, yes.
Woman
Aww.
Harry
No, they do. They make friends very easily and
they're very placid. They’re amazing.
Maribel
How much does it for a ride?
Woman
A half an hour ride is $100, and that's per group of
people with a maximum of eight. Yeah, we go over
the river, down sinkhole to the shrine. We stop at the
shrine and take a few photos. And then come back
through the King's Domain Gardens and then pass
the National Gallery and the Arts Center back to here.
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Maribel
It's fairly easy getting around the streets of
Melbourne. We're coming across Princess Bridge to
South Bank. See how friendly this group is.
Harry
[Inaudible 00:34:59]
Maribel
Okay, what are we first seeing, Harry?
Harry
The bottom one.
Maribel
That one?
Harry
No, the bottom one.
Maribel
That one?
Harry
Yeah.
Maribel
Oh, it's a glass lift. Bye, bye...
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Harry
It's dark in here...
Maribel
And we're coming to the ground level.
Harry
There we go. That was it. That was quick. And now
it's very peaceful down here by the river.
Maribel
Standing by the Yarrow River on a Sunday afternoon,
lots of people out enjoying Melbourne. We've got
buskers and markets. There are often rowers on the
river. Boats go down the river giving hourly tours, and
it’s just really sunny and vibrant. I love this city. We
have a, what's this, a ferry boat coming past?
Harry
This is a little water taxi coming by.
Maribel
Yeah? Good. Makes for a good sound effect.
Melbourne is well known for its many choirs. One of
the ones you may encounter is Men in Suits.
[Singing]
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Harry
Here we are in 1914. Maribel.
Maribel
Okay. So we're now at the Arts Center of Melbourne
where they have lots and lots of wonderful
performances. Melbourne is the city of festivals and
performances. And just last night, we came here to
watch Westside Story, but with a difference – it was
being audio described, so I was able to watch and
listen to the show with my audio description
equipment that’s supplied by Vision Australia.
Harry
And there are three theaters here. There's the State
Theater and two smaller theaters. And yes it's the
center of the National Center for Performing Arts,
although Melbourne is a very artistic city and it has a
number of older theaters dotted around the CBD
within 20 minutes' walk of where we're standing now.
Maribel
Yeah, it’s well worth a visit.
[Singing]
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Harry
“Art is not a frill on the frock of life, but the very fabric
with which it is woven.” “Music in our heart brings
love to the world, and music in the world brings love
through our hearts.”
Maribel
That's nice. Who said that?
Harry
Judith Durham, OAM.
Maribel
Oh, she's from The Seekers.
Harry
Singer, composer, pianist, poet.
Maribel
From the Australian band, The Seekers.
Harry
Yep. Here were are on actually St. Kilda Road, and
I'm with Yani who makes these lovely boxes.
Maribel
Can you tell us some of the Australian woods you
use?
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Yani
Yeah, the Australian woods, the one you've got in
your hand now is red gum burl on the lid.
Maribel
That's beautiful.
Yani
Yeah, and that's red gum tree around the outside.
Most of them are burls. Then you've got myrtle burl
from Tasmania here, jarrah burl, red gum burl.
There's a figure of blackwood in here.
Harry
Beautiful
Yani
Tiger myrtle, eucalypt burl. Mainly from Tassie,
Victoria, Western Australia.
Harry
And when is the market open?
Yani
The market is open from 10 until 4 o'clock every
Sunday.
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Maribel
Every Sunday?
Yani
Every Sunday.
Maribel
All year around.
Yani
All year around, yeah.
Maribel
Yeah, excellent. Definitely worth a visit, isn't it?
Yani
It is, yeah.
Maribel
Where you can get Australian souvenirs, hand-made
goods.
Yani
Absolutely. It’s one of the only markets where it's fairly
strict. They sort of try and restrict that it is
handcrafted and hand-made.
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Harry
The condition really is that the things here are handmade?
Yani
Yeah, absolutely.
Maribel
For a visitor who was here for just a day, being here
on a Sunday is fabulous because they can just get a
whole taste of Australia from the market.
Yani
Absolutely. Yeah, because you’ve got the gardens
opposite, you've got the market, you got the
constables, you’ve got the art gallery just up the
road. People love Melbourne because it's very easy
to get around. Free trams – I think there are a few
free trams.
Maribel
There's a free circle tram, and there's also, we just
saw a bus.
Yani
Yeah, a bus too.
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Maribel
It's not free, but it's $10 for the weekend so that's
pretty good.
Yani
That is pretty good enough.
Harry
It is pretty good, yeah. Here we are in the NGB,
Maribel, and I find it's quite cold outside but it's very
warm and pleasant in here, isn't it?
Maribel
Oh, wow. You look up, right up above us, the entire
ceiling is stained glass. And all my eyes can really
see are just different amounts of bright colors, but not
really discerning what colors they are. But that is
pretty stunning anyway.
Harry
The roof is basically stained glass. And it's called the
Garden of Eden but it is pretty abstract. There is a
kind of giant serpent that goes through it in a
tree. But I would say its modern abstract.
Maribel
We're in the gift shop of the National Gallery, and
what we often do when we come to an exhibition that
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I can't see is that we’ll often come out to the shop
afterwards. And a lot of items are here that can
represent the exhibition. So one time there was an
exhibition on beautiful chairs, the history of chairs,
and in the shop, there were these lovely little
miniatures of [names 00:41:48], chairs and rocking
chairs, and all sorts of things. And one by one, Harry
would let me feel one very carefully. And because
we're in a shop, naturally, they can’t tell you not to
touch.
Harry
Look, here's this rather beautiful scarf.
Maribel
Oh, that is. That is absolutely silk. That is so soft.
Harry
It's called the Banquet of Cleopatra.
Maribel
Oh, it's beautiful. Okay, let's get this one.
Harry
This is an unusual glass. This is a double-ended
glass, so cocktail one end and wine in the other, have
it either way up.
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Maribel
Oh, my goodness.
Harry
So you have it like one way or the other.
Maribel
Okay, so I'll have a glass of champagne dear. And
then afterwards, yes, now I'm ready for my wine. Oh,
that's hilarious.
Harry
Isn't that cool?
Maribel
Oh, my goodness. This is incredible.
Harry
Giant wombat made of wood. Yep, made with a
chainsaw.
Maribel
Wow.
Harry
Serious wombat. This is too fat here.
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Maribel
Do wombats have teeth?
Harry
It's a symbolic wombat.
Maribel
Let’s see what flowers are out this season. Let's have
a look. Wow, Pansies. Bright. What are they, purple?
Harry
White.
Maribel
Good. There are a lot of bike riders. One thing to
avoid is just to be aware of the bike riders. They
seem to come up from behind. So I guess just whack
that white cane like this. The bells are playing. I can
hear the Federation bells.
Harry
Oh, yes, you can. Let's listen for a minute.
[Bells]
Maribel
We hope you've enjoyed hearing a few of the sounds
of Melbourne.
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Harry
Come and explore the Victorian laneways, bustling
markets, shops, botanical gardens, and arcades that
make Melbourne one of the world's most livable and
accessible cities.
Maribel
Where are we going next weekend, Harry?
Harry
Aha.
Dawn
I have to say, that was a lot of fun. As much as I love
hop on, hop off tours, I would be very tempted to just
hoof it around Melbourne every single moment of my
visit. Maribel, thank you, and to Harry for taking us
around your city. I'm going to hand the microphone
back to you for just a moment, and then let me know if
we are ready for Q&A. Oh, that was so much fun.
Maribel
It was great. It was lovely. Thank you, everyone.
Yes, I think we should hand over to Q&A now, so over
to you, Dawn.
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Dawn
Alright, folks, we are opening the microphones. It's
been a quiet texting today, so I have nothing that I
need to read on to the group. But feel free to raise
your hand and come on in and find out what's the
answer to whatever is on your mind. I'm sure Maribel
has the answer. So here we go.
Woman
Perhaps I could stray a little bit. If a stray too far, let
me know. Back in 1954, I was a very young one. I
went with my family to Adelaide. And I went to a
school which is no longer there, and I'm just
wondering if there might be a similar school. It was a
boarding school for the blind called Townsend House
School. I was the little American girl living there, and
it was a boarding school. It was a wonderful,
wonderful experience. I was so warmly welcomed.
Maybe you can mention something. Maybe in
Melbourne there might be a school for the blind. And
also, am I correct Melbourne is the capital of the
country? And do you have an Australian dollar which
is similar to the American dollar? That really blew my
mind when you said that ride was $100. Wow. Thank
you.
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Maribel
Thank you. Yes, the $100 does sound a lot for the
ride. Our dollar is about 77¢ to your dollar, if that
helps. Yeah, but it’s a pretty special ride. Now, going
back to your school, Adelaide is in the state of South
Australia, which is next to us. We used to have in
Melbourne the blind school called Victorian Blind
School. It no longer exists because the try and place
children into mainstream schools, and have special
teachers for them. But there is a new blind school
that’s just started just outside of Melbourne, but I don't
think it's a boarding school. I'm not sure, but yes, they
try and assimilate the blind children more now into
mainstream. And Melbourne Victoria is not the capital
of Australia. What happened was New South Wales
and Victoria both wanted to be the capital. So instead
of either of us gaining that title, they created
Canberra, which is known as the capitol territory of
Australia. So I hope that answers your question.
Dawn
Great answers, and I want to get a text message in
because we have a question about what is a wombat,
and how often do you see kangaroos. Again, we're
going back to the Crocodile Dundee thinking. We
think there are kangaroos everywhere, I think. But
anyway, tell us about these creatures, the wombat
and the kangaroo.
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Maribel
Yeah, I'm smiling. We don't have kangaroos in Main
Street. I don't know, think of sort of Melbourne as a
little mini New York because it’s buildings and traffic
and horse carriages and trams and people. So our
Australian animals live much further out into the
bush. Now, a wombat is an Australian animal that
lives in a borough. It’s quite a large, sort of a mini
brown grizzly bear if you want to think of it that
way. When I say mini, they are about a meter – I was
waiting because I know Harry knows more than me
and he’s sitting in the other room – they’re about a
meter plump. They’re very plump animals, and they
claw and go underground. So we were just looking at
a sculpture of a wombat. It's wonderful to just have a
little read of some of the Australian animals because
they really are very strange creatures indeed.
Dawn
Next question.
Sheila
Hi, this is Sheila from Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I
was wondering – you said that there are six states
and two territories. Could you give us the names and
things about those, because that's one of those things
that I never knew about? And also, I know that cruise
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ships also to come into Australia. Can you talk a little
bit about that if you know anything about that?
Maribel
Thank you, Sheila. A cruise ship would be great. And
yes, we do have many cruise ships coming into
Melbourne. I think going on a cruise, if you can afford
it, is a wonderful way to learn and orientate yourself to
the ship. I think that would be a wonderful way to
travel. So, yes, they do dock here. Now, in terms of
our six states and two territories, we're putting my
mind to the test here, but I understand it's good to
know our geography. We're on the east coast of
Australia.
We have Queensland at the top. We have New South
Wales coming down in the middle. We have us,
Victoria, which is down at the bottom. When you go
across Beth strait to a state called Tasmania, so that's
four, I've got my fingers counting. You come back
across to the mainland next to us is a place called
South Australia. Then we go right across to the west
which is a huge state, it's called Western Australia.
And then the two that are missing are, oh help me
Harry, Northern Territory, which is right up at the top
and middle, it's a huge territory, and our capital
territory which is Canberra. So that's sort of traveling
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from the east, down, up and around the west, to the
north. I hope that helps.
Dawn
Next question
Woman
Hello. I'm from Wisconsin, but I was originally from
Indiana. And I do not know if you're familiar with the
Indianapolis 500 Motor Speedway and the IndyCar
racing circuit. But Will Power, who is from Australia,
is very famous in IndyCar racing, and I believe Ryan
Briscoe also is from Australia. And I wonder are they
as famous in Australia as they are here in the United
States for those of us who are fans of IndyCar racing,
and thank you for a delightful presentation. And your
special presentation also – the sounds were just so
very nice. Thank you.
Maribel
Thank you so much, and isn't it wonderful we can talk
across continents like this? I’m afraid I haven't heard
of those car drivers, but because I'm not really into the
sport. So maybe they're not as well known here. We
do have the Grand Prix every year in Melbourne
which attracts hundreds of thousands of people. So
that's the only sort of car racing that I'm aware of
here. And living four miles out of the city, we do hear
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it as well. They sound like incredible drones coming
over the city when the cars get roaring. So I'm sorry, I
don't know those people. And thank you so much for
listening and for your lovely comments. Thank you.
Dawn
Hi, it's Dawn. I'm going to get another text question in,
and this is a toughie because I'm not sure you would
know this. We have a question as to whether or not
guide dogs coming in with their handlers from
America or I guess anywhere else, do they have to be
in quarantine before coming in, or do you have an
answer to that. I'm not sure I put the question out
correctly, but anyway it's about quarantine and guide
dogs coming in with the tourists.
Maribel
Well, in honesty, no, I don't know fully that answer.
Guide Dogs Victoria would definitely be the people to
write to or email to find that out. I think with guide
dogs, and I am only just guessing that if there is a
quarantine, it's a shorter period. But I'm sorry, I really
don't know, and I would go to Guide Dogs Victoria.
Dawn
Alrighty, that's a great suggestion. And maybe we can
research it too on our end a little bit because maybe
the guide dogs close here would know. But I have a
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food question, actually. You mentioned, and perhaps
it surprised a lot of us how much you all love your
coffee over there, and I know I didn't know that. We
tend to think of Australians and barbecue, and the
barbie. We love barbecue in Chicago. I can tell you,
we love our meat here. But I'm wondering if
barbecuing is as popular as we think it is in Australia.
Maribel
I would say barbecuing is pretty popular in the
summer months. It's more a thing we do when we get
together with families, socials. It's certainly not
something you do in the heart of Melbourne. When I
was talking about food and cuisine, it is such a rich
diverse melting pot of cuisines that you can choose
from anywhere in the world to dine in those flavors.
Yes, but barbecues naturally, yes, we do love our
barbie, but not so much in the heart of Melbourne.
But it is one of the things that we do as sort of a social
get together. But I think actually, no, Melbourne too,
we're into salads. I think with all of these master
chefs shows and all these cooking shows, honestly
the quality of dishes here and they're not expensive
which is another great thing, the quality of food when
you dine out is extremely good. So that's all I would
say there.
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Dawn
Thank you, and I'm throwing the mic back open
again. We’re coming up on the hour so step on up if
you have a question.
Alice
I have another question. Are you still doing both
blogs? I enjoyed your presentation last year so much
and was interested in your blogs, and are you still
working in that area or have you done any other
writing?
Maribel
Thank you. Yeah, I'm writing all the time. I write for
Vision Aware, so I'm a peer advisor. So if you go to
VisionAware.org, you'll get to see some of my articles
there along with the other peers. We all put in some
great stuff there. And I've just taken on a new
commission for About.com to write about blindness
and living with low vision. So that's actually being
launched sometime this week, and I'll have many,
many posts going up there. My blogs have been less
written just because of all these other things I'm
doing. But I'll be putting something on my Touching
Landscapes about this presentation, Dawn. So people
can revisit and go back to the seminar. So thank you,
and I hope to see you on one of my blogs or my
writing ventures. Thank you.
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Dawn
I appreciate the question, Alice, because I couldn't
have lined you up any more perfectly. I did want to
ask you, Maribel, could you get into the recording for
us, how does one get to your blog, and the Touching
Landscapes one that you just mentioned? It would be
fun for those who would like to follow up and keep in
touch with you to do it that way. So as I hand the
microphone back to you, go ahead and get that
information into the recording for us.
Maribel
Okay, thank you. First of all, my website is
MaribelSteel.com, that’s M-A-R-I-B-E-L -S-T-E-EL.com. My two blogs are TouchingLanscapes.com,
and GatewayToBlindness.blogspot.com. They are
the three main places, and once I get my About.com
going up, that’ll be on my Facebook as well. So if
you’re on Facebook, have a little search, and I’m
happy to accept your friend request. Thank you,
Dawn.
Dawn
Maribel, I can’t help but feel like we all feel like we
now have a friend in Melbourne, Australia, and how
special is that. So thank you so much for bringing
your life and your environment and your city. I tell
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you, if we could have smelled it through the computer,
we would have smelled it. You did such a wonderful
job sharing with us all that is around you. I’m handing
the microphone back to you for a farewell. And I will
get us closing out just shortly. So here you go.
Maribel
Well, thank you. It has gone so quickly. I was just
thrilled to bring some of these things, and I hope that
it’s been of interest. And I will have those links to give
you, too, Dawn where people can read a lot more
about the things that we might not have touched on
today. I have a little Hadley scoop for you that I didn’t
mention before. The Federation bells that we finished
on, which are 39 beautiful sculptured bells not far
from the center of Melbourne, about a 500 meter
walk, are actually managed by my partner, Harry
Williamson. So there’s a little scoop for you.
And the link that I give you, you can listen to the
bells. They play 3 times a day. And you can even
submit a composition that they may accept and play
on the bells. So how’s that? So that’s my little scoop
for you. Thank you all. We’re landing safely now
back into your home towns, and hope you have a nice
day.
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Dawn
Thank you so much, Maribel. This was a delight.
Folks as know, we are recording today. And this
recording will be in the past seminars area of the
Hadley website, and we’ll get it there within a day or
two. And any of the links that Maribel sends on to
me, we will post those there as well so you are able to
go back and listen at your leisure to what we did
today afresh, or recommend it to others. We’d love to
have the traffic come and listen to our seminars in the
past seminars area. So watch for us there.
If something else comes to mind that you’d like to
share with us outside of the survey, we have the
[email protected] email box, so feel free to use
that. I can pass messages on to Maribel or Harry.
And if you have ideas for future [email protected],
we’d love to hear those as well. It’s a little bit later in
the day here, but for Maribel, I have to tell you it’s
quite early in the morning. And since we’ve learned
that they love their coffee, I know she has not had a
chance to get to her second cup yet. So we are going
to be shutting down the seminar so she can get off to
starting her day, and we’ll be ending our workday
here in the Chicago area. Maribel, one last time for
the microphone.
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Maribel
Well, guess what Dawn? I’m actually having my
second cup now because Harry just brought it to
me. Thank you so much. Thank you.
Dawn
Bye, bye everyone. Have a great afternoon, evening,
or morning wherever you are and whatever time of
the day it is. Thank you so much. Bye, bye.
©2014 The Hadley School for the Blind
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A Virtual Tour to Marvelous Melbourne: the Most Livable City Down