March 21, 2019, Geelong, Australia — On last year’s cruise we berthed right in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, and I really liked it. Either there was no vacancy this year, or the price was too high, and we tendered instead over an hour away in Geelong, pronounced Juh-long'. Not a good substitute. I’m glad I’d already seen ‘marvelous Melbourne’ because Geelong was forgettable. (An excursion to Melbourne by bus was, of course, available.) Maybe if it hadn’t been cloudy... maybe if I’d opted for the $1400 helicopter ride over the Shipwreck Coast and the stunning and majestic seaside cliffs. I’m usually up for a wine tasting excursion out to a vineyard, but those can be pricey, too — and I do a reasonably priced tasting onboard once in a while. So I opted for the ‘Included’ tour, at no extra charge. You get what you pay for...
Ironically, our driver/guide told us that last month the Viking Orion was in port and passengers told him the seas were so rough, they’d slept on their stateroom floors. Two days later, we heard about the Viking Sky’s weather-and-engine distress in Norway.
Once upon a Victorian time, Geelong was a hoppin’ place, with woolen mills and exports and a short-lived gold boom in nearby Ballarat. (If that sounds familiar, PBS’s Dr. Blake solved mysteries in Ballarat.) The gold transport ships came to Geelong instead of Melbourne, which put this sleepy town on the map... briefly. But the gold panned out, and the wool trade declined — at least two guides in different places have said, ‘Australia rode on the sheep’s back.’ Recently, Geelong has reinvented its old warehouses into galleries, shops and museums. Around 100 old dock bollards have been turned into people all around town...
So... what did I see? Buildings downtown.
Murals on old warehouses and manufacturing plants. Geelong used to be Ford’s Australian base (since 1925) but Ford and GM and Toyota have all closed their plants here. The port ships out wool and cotton, wood chips to Japan (from sustainable wood lots) and wheat when they have any. Did you know that hardwoods make soft toilet paper? The minimum wage is around $14 US. And the 8-hour workday originated in Australia!
Paintings on a train of at least a hundred wheat cars... but no wheat. The drought has gone on for 4 or 5 years in some areas, and as much as 8 or 9 years in others. They are investing in wind turbines to reduce their carbon footprint.
Amusing and descriptive store name: VIRUS & SPYWARE REMOVAL.
The cathedral. Note the drought-parched ‘lawn.’
Nifty idea — how long it will take the average person to walk to a destination.
Some very nice homes... the median price is around $800,000 AUD for 3 bedrooms, or $900-1,000,000 for 4 BR. That’s $600k or $633-704k US.
As in Hobart, some local houses have cast iron fretwork and fencing made from ships’ ballast.
This is a pre-cast cast iron house! The parts were manufactured in Edinburgh and shipped here to be assembled. But the foundry in Scotland burned and the molds were destroyed. Thus, this house is one of a kind. It was sold not long ago for $13mm ($9mm US).
In harsh contrast...
And that’s all she wrote. #