Melbourne: Day 1 – Unilodge on Swanston

Day 1 of the
Convocation: Melbourne, Australia (December 2003)

It was around 8 AM when the plane touched down in Tullamarine
(Melbourne) airport. I just had two hours of fitful sleep over four
days and seriously doubted my ability to head to the Deviant Species
doof later that night. Customs was good though, I only had two checks
on my declaration list and the customs officer said I could go through
the Green Exit (no need for checks). Not bringing food along was a good
idea, not that I had any use for that anyway, since I’m just coming
over for my convocation.

Melbourne airport customs.

It’s not readily visible from this photo but Melbourne customs
officials seems to have a certain configuration – there’s the one on
the desk you talk to, a row of sturdy blokes after that, and a third
row of older, and presumably more experienced officers. It’s just an
observation I’ve made, and I’ve been held up at customs before, and it
seems that at least the second and third row have communication devices
with the CCTV monitoring division, which I postulate is for spotting
dodgy or nervous characters. I have several interesting encounters, but
that’s not relevant to the post, so I’ll refrain from mentioning them.

Anyway, my two checks were for shoes and medication. The customs
officer said dress shoes are fine and asked me what my medication was.
I told him it’s just my benzodiazepine prescription, and he said that’s
fine, just go through the green exit. It didn’t turn out to be a hassle
after all. Oh, and if anyone is interested, there were no sniffer dogs
in sight at either baggage retrieval or customs – I’ve gone through
close to 10 times and there was always a sniffer dog around, but not
this time. Yes, I brought my wallet along, though not my backpack.

Unilodge on Swanston.

Well, I caught the SkyBus to Spencer Street Station and found out
that they had a courtesy shuttle bus to CBD hotels, so I hopped on that
to Unilodge at Swanston Street. We’re staying there for the night due
to a mess up with our booking with The Paramount. They have fully
serviced apartments during uni holidays, and it’s pretty spacey –
here’s a couple of shots of the interior:

This is the lounge area – windows open to a great view of the city.

There’s a full kitchen too.

Melbourne – a bird’s eye view.

This is the view from outside the lounge, there’s a balcony that
goes 3/4 around. This photo is of the RMIT/Hungry Jack’s intersection
right when you exit Melbourne Central Station, except this is taken
from the 12th floor.

I decided to take a walk around town instead of sleeping, figured I
won’t have enough time before I had to get in touch with Liam. It was
Saturday morning and there wasn’t a lot of traffic at that time so it
was good to walk around. I noticed a couple of changes since I was last
in Melbourne (July 2003) – Melbourne Central is under heavy renovation
and the familiar Melbourne Central Station escalators weren’t there

Melbourne Central Station under construction.

The escalators have moved into the mall instead of being out front
and the upper few floors of Melbourne Central seems to be closed. I
walked down to Elizabeth Street to see if there’s anyplace I could
offload my CF Cards into a CD-ROM. I could fit about 52 shots into a
128 MB CF Card with my 5 MP Nikon 5700, and my other two CF Cards are
32 MB and 16 MB respectively…which means I’ll need something to store
the pictures in. I found that the best place to transfer from CF Card
-> CD-ROM is at Ted’s.

They charge A$ 9.95 per CD and they use one of those dedicated Agfa
red boxes to do it. There’s another shop nearby that’s A$ 8.99 per CD –
they’re using a standard PC with flash card readers and a CD-RW to do
it though, so I went with Ted’s for the perceived privacy with the Agfa
“black box” (don’t know what’s inside those things), since some photos
were not meant for public viewing. 😉

The new mall beside the state library.

I walked back to Swanston and noticed that a new mall seems to have
sprung up beside the state library. It’s not fully functional yet, but
there’s a bowling alley, a Safeway and some food courts inside. I
didn’t take photos of the interior the first day, since I’ve just
offloaded my CF Card into a CD-ROM and wanted to save space for the
doof later, but I did get pictures before I came back. The mall seems
pretty big – it must be the one that’s under construction before I left.

It’s surprising how much construction work can be done in a couple
of months…it went from a deep pit into a monolithic (okay, I lack a
better term) structure. I went into Safeway to get a 1 litre bottle of
water and went to Dick Smith’s at Bourke Street to get an adapter for
charging my digicam battery. It was past 1 pm by the time I called Liam
and we arranged to meet at 3 pm. I went back to Unilodge, charged my
digicam battery and saw this tempting, tempting sight:

Tempt me not, fair maiden…

I was reminded of my sleep deprivation and decided to try and see if
I could cram an hour’s sleep before I went. It’s something challenging
for me, especially if I’ve not been sleeping in the days prior to the
attempt. I set two alarm clocks, but they both failed me…it was way
past 4 pm by the time I woke up and I didn’t have a contact number so
Liam couldn’t reach me.

Did I wake up too late? Will I make it to the Deviant Species doof? Burning questions which will be answered in tomorrow’s post!

Okay, those are stupid questions since you all know I made it to the doof…check back tomorrow for photos from the event!

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