Old Melbourne Gaol

With my brother and sister-in-law,

we toured the Old Melbourne Gaol.

It was a lot better than we expected.

First, we were given a guided tour of the Court Room.

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(In case you were wondering,

the motto is the motto of the British Monarchy

and it means “God and my Right”.

No, it’s not Latin.

It’s actually French,

as are the other words on the emblem.

French was the language of the Royal Court,

hence, the French on their emblem.)

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Then, we were ‘escorted’ into the old watch house

…by our ‘arresting’ sergeant

and our ‘arrests’ were processed.


We were placed in lines and shouted at

and then led into our holding cells.

Then, the lights were turned off

and we were left at the mercy of our cellmates.

It sounds terrible, doesn’t it,

but, it was a lots of fun

(…except for the little kid

whose mother thought it would be a good idea to bring the child along).

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After we were ‘released’,

we were free to explore the watch house

and its cells.

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You’d have to be desperate

to use the toilet

in front of all of your cellmates.

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And, yes, they really do have padded cells.

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Back in the Old Gaol,

we took our seats for a play about Ned Kelly.

It was titled, “Such is Life”.

It was really good.

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After the play,

we explored the Old Melbourne Gaol itself.

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There was so much to see.

Firstly, Ned Kelly’s death mask.

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Ned was left hanging for thirty minutes

before being moved to the mortuary.

There, a ‘death mask’ was made of his head.

(I wonder why death masks were made in those days.

They had access to photography by then.)

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The gaol also contains the gun that Ned used in the Glenrowan siege.

He’d stolen it from a constable

during the Jerilderie robbery.

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You can also see where Ned was hung,

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along with 134 other people.

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There were lots of cells to explore

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and lots of stories to read.

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This is the death mask of Francis Knorr,

the first woman to be hanged in Victoria.

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The hangman, who was supposed to hang Francis,

committed suicide two days prior,

rather than hang a woman.

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We wandered up and down the gaol catwalks

inspecting the cells

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and reading about the history of the prison and its prisoners.

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It was a fascinating place

and I wished we had more time to spend there.

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However, we had to get on the road

and continue our drive north and homeward.


Scienceworks in Melbourne

In the morning, we got off the ferry in Melbourne

(those 4 phenergen worked!!!!),

we dined (quickly – because of the dodgy-looking clientele)

at the MacDonald’s in St Kilda,

and then sat in the car park of Scienceworks

until it opened

(because we hated driving in Melbourne

and it was peak hour).

Now, perhaps we were tired,

and simply keen to get home,

but, we didn’t think much of Scienceworks.

They definitely seemed to have a lot of money to play with

and their facilities were much better than Brisbane’s facilities,

but, we just felt that they had an agenda to push

and they pushed it hard.

We still enjoyed our time at Scienceworks,

but, I was definitely disappointed.

The boys loved all of the technology.

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There was some kind of futuristic exhibition on when we visited.

Can you imagine driving around in this little beauty?

But, where do you put the kids?

Or do they have their own separate pod car?

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What would the musicians think of this futuristic harp?

Playing it would be a challenge.

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Both of the boys enjoyed racing this robot.

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As expected, the robot beat both of them.

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My ‘computer-programmer’ loved checking out the old tech.

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Does it mean that you are really old if you recognise nearly all of these?

I hope not.

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No, my first computer did not look like this

…but, it did come with a tape deck.

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There were lots of hands-on exhibits,

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which can make anything look fun.

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Here, Ethan is ‘experiencing’ gravity

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on different planets.

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Here, the story of the three little pigs

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is being hijacked to teach an environmental agenda. (Grrrr!!)

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I did find one interesting piece of information

among all the propaganda.

Did you know that two laptops use as much energy as your air conditioner?

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At Scienceworks, we also booked a guided tour

of their old pumping station.

(This was an old sewage pumping station.)

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For a place that pumped poop,

isn’t the building beautiful?

Beauty was important in the past.

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Our guide was wonderful

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and walked us around the station

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explaining the process

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and the equipment they used.

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The smoothness of the engines they used

was amazing.

There were six 20 cent pieces balanced on their edges

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on this MOVING engine.

Oh and we got an extra special tour.

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When we toured the old pumping station,

it actually DID smell like sewerage!

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After our pumping station tour,

we lined up for the Lightning Show.

We’d seen a Lightning Show at the Boston Science Centre

so we believed we were in for a treat.

Well, sorry to say, the Melbourne experience

was a very poor second to the Boston experience.

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After a bit more play at Scienceworks,

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we headed for my brother’s house

where we would spend the night.


Platypus House…and Echidnas

Since we’d gone as far south as we could go,

we had to start the homeward bound trip.

We left our Hobart cabin and drove north.

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Since, the drive from one side of Tasmania to the other

doesn’t take long,

we made plans to stop at Platypus House

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and I’m so glad we did.

Platypus House isn’t a glamourous, big name attraction,

but, it was one of our favourite places.

And here is why….

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Isn’t he adorable?!

First, at Platypus House, we were led into a little room

to watch a quick introductory video.

Then, our guide took us to another room

to tell us more about monotremes

(that is, egg-laying mammals).

Did you know that there are only TWO monotremes?

The platypus and the echidna.

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What do you notice about this skeleton?

True, it’s a platypus skeleton,

but, look more closely at its legs

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or more specifically, its feet.

Yes, its rear feet (and legs actually)

face backwards.

It’s the same for the echidna.

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Oh, you should feel the pelt of a platypus.

It’s the softest thing I’ve EVER felt

…although its tail felt like a bristly stiff doormat.

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And, the echidna…

well he’s spiky of course,

but, no, he doesn’t shoot out quills.

(For the record, porcupines don’t ‘shoot out’ their quills either.

They have to touch their enemy with their quills

so they’ll detach and stab them.)

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Since Australia doesn’t have enough dangerous animals,

(okay, that was sarcasm)

you can add the cute little platypus to the dangerous animal list.

Male platypuses have venomous spurs on their hind feet.

Did you know that?

Our guide told us that the pain from a platypus sting is excruciating.

Apparently, you won’t die,

but, because of the extreme pain,

which continues for weeks on end,

you might wish that you had died.

To make matters worse, there’s no antivenom

and morphine won’t even touch the pain.

So, don’t get too close to them!

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Instead, go to Platypus House,

where you’ll not only get to pat the pelt of a platypus,

but, you’ll also get to see a live platypus up close.

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We also saw it being fed!

But, no, we’re still not at the highlight of our visit.

Now the platypuses were cute,

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but the echidnas were adorable!

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AND, we got to feed them!!!

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They crawled all over and around us.

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They were adorable little creatures.

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Look at their nice long tongue.


We just loved them

and couldn’t get enough of them.

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But, sadly, our session ended

and we had to leave.

Our final destination of the day

was our ferry back across the Bass Strait.

Cue the nausea. 😦

The chemist advised me to take four phenergen

and assured me that I would sleep right through the worst of the trip.

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We boarded the ferry,

and found our room,

which was much bigger and nicer than the first room we had.

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I took a quick squiz at the view

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and then slept through the rest of the trip

back to the mainland.


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Natural Features of Tasman Peninsula

When you visit Port Arthur,

make sure to take some time

to explore the peninsula itself.

There are all sorts of natural treasures to be found.

Our first stop was the Tessellated Pavement

(which is technically on Forester Peninsula

just before you cross Eaglehawk Neck isthmus).

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People say it looks man-made

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and I suppose it kind of does,

but, it’s actually a natural formation.

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At high tide, water washes over the rocks

and down into their joints.

Then, the water retreats

and the remaining water evaporates

creating salt crystals.

As these salt crystals grow,

they put pressure on the rocks,

leaving the rocks more susceptible to erosion.

This process mostly happens in the joints

creating loaf type shapes.

However, where the water sits in pools

and where those pools are further from the ocean,

the salt crystallisation process is more intense on the surface,

creating a pan shape rather than a loaf.

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You can easily see both shapes at the Tessellated Pavement.

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You can walk down to the Tessellated Pavement,

but, we didn’t.

We had so much to jam into one day

that we prioritised seeing lots of things

over spending a lot of time at a few sites.

That’s how we roll.

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So, onto Tasman Peninsula we went.

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A short drive away,

we stopped at Tasman Arch.

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The arch was formed through erosion.

Initially, it would have been a cave structure,

and, then, when the roof of the cave collapsed,

it left this arch formation.

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Given this information,

do you think you’d walk across the arch?

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We didn’t,

(based on time, rather than being ‘sensible’ people)

but, you can walk across if you wish..

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Mind you, sensible people,

who won’t walk across the arch,

would probably freak out

when they read that there was a new sea cave forming

right below their perceived ‘safe’ viewing spot.

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A short distance away

is the Devil’s Kitchen.

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The Devil’s Kitchen also began as a sea cave,

however, its roof completely collapsed.

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Erosion continues to change the landscape at Devil’s Kitchen.

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Two new sea caves are being formed,

(although it’s hard for short people – 5ft – to photograph them!).

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Inside this one,

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you can see

(with the help of a tall person and a zoom lens)

rocks from the cave roof have fallen

so the sea can continue to expand the cave.


Geology is fascinating outside of a classroom textbook!

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After a day at Port Arthur,

we stopped at the Blowhole.

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It was a bit of a non-event.

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Hightide (on a rough sea day)

is the best time to view the Blowhole,

but, sadly, we caught the tide in its retreat

and on a quiet sea day.

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This is what we saw…

Here’s the little cave tunnel

that the water funnels through…

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And this is its end point

with a bit of a splash…

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However, most of the time,

this natural feature looked like this…

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We waited for ages at the Blowhole

to see a little spray action

and this is probably the best we saw…

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On that note,

we piled back into the car

and drove the 90 minutes home

for our last night in Hobart.