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On Walkabout In: The Australian Open

My wife and I this weekend needed to go to downtown Melbourne to do some shopping. Like most guys, I am not much for shopping so while my wife was shopping I went and took a stroll down to Rod Laver Arena to see what was going on with the Australian Open:

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The Australian Open is one of the four biggest tennis tournaments of the year and this weekend the finals for both the men and women singles are taking place. While I walked by the stadium it was not to busy and there seemed to be more security and stadium personnel walking around than fans. I have been in the stadium before for other functions and Rod Laver is a pretty nice stadium. It is named after Australian tennis great Rod Laver who won 11 Grand Slam titles back in the 1960’s.

The area around the arena is surrounded by many other smaller tennis courts that are used during the Australian Open:

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In the above picture you can see how some of the outdoor tennis courts are dwarfed by the massive Melbourne Cricket Ground more popularity known as the MCG. The MCG if you can believe it was first opened in 1854 and is still used today. It seats 100,000 people and is the most popular stadium in all of Australia and is the site of the yearly Australian Football League (AFL) Grand Final.

Across the street from Rod Laver Arena is the Melbourne Olympic Park Stadium:

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This stadium was opened in 1956 just in time to host the Olympic Games held in Melbourne that year. The stadium isn’t very big and holds only 31,000 people, but is still used today as home to Melbourne’s rugby team The Storm who are currently the 2007 champions of the National Rugby League (NRL).

From the stadium area I began to walk back towards downtown by falling the Yarra River:

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It was a beautiful day in Melbourne Saturday and plenty of people were getting out and enjoying the weather out on the Yarra River by either participating in either rowing or kayaking on the sleepy Yarra River that runs through the middle of Melbourne.

Here is view down the Yarra River looking towards downtown:

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In the above picture, the large building on the left is the Rialto Towers, which is supposed to be the tallest office building in the southern hemisphere at 251 meters in heigth. In the picture you can also see a golden structure, which is the beautiful Flinders Street Station located in the heart of downtown.

The south side of the Yarra River is dominated by the Eureka Tower:

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The Eureka Tower is the world’s tallest apartment building with a maximum heigth of 297 meters. The Eureka Tower is home to some of the richest people in Melbourne. Apartments in the building cost as much as $7 million per unit. The top ten floors of the building are even encased with 100% pure gold plated glass windows for the really big spenders out there.

As I continued down the river bank a huge eyesore Ferris Wheel that is set up near downtown at different times during the year came into view:

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This Ferris Wheel never seems to popular whenever I see because few people are ever on it. However, I don’t know what the bigger eyesore is though, the Ferris Wheel or Melbourne art:

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Downtown Melbourne is home to some of the most hideous art you can imagine and this picture above is a perfect example of this.

As I walked up to Federation Square the place was absolutely packed:

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Federation Square is popular for gatherings and this day was no different with people congregating waiting for the Australian Open tennis final between Russian Maria Sharapova and Serbian Ana Ivanovic to start. If you are wondering Sharapova went on to win the final.

I started walking towards Flinders Street Station where my wife and I were scheduled to meet up:

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While walking towards the station I stopped to watch this juggler put on a show:

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As luck would have it I ended up becoming part of this guy’s show. He needed three guys to help him with his unicycle trick and picked three people including myself to assist him. One of the guys he picked was on holiday from Auckland, while the other guy was from Melbourne, then you had me from the US. When he asked where I was from and I told him I was an American he went and did a pat down of me to make sure I had no guns which drew a big laugh from the crowd there. The juggler was from France so I found it a bit interesting that a Yank, a Kiwi, and a Aussie were helping a Frenchman with a unicycle juggling act. That folks is about as Melbourne as it gets.

Anyway, I got to be the one who had the honor of hoisting this juggler up on my shoulders and then pushing on his feet to lift him on to the unicycle. Once on the unicycle he balanced a cane on his head and juggled knives which was pretty impressive:

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All in all it was a really good day and my wife got her shopping done and I got to take a pleasant walk and be a juggler’s assistant for about 10 minutes. Just another day in good, old Melbourne.

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