Monday, 26 August 2013

The Historic Town Of Castlemaine

The Historic Town Of Castlemaine

          Four men, supposed to be herding cattle and sheep, abandoned their work one sunny day in 1851 and headed towards a nearby creek. They started digging and, as luck would have it, they struck gold.  What followed was the influx of gold diggers numbering about 25,000.  Gold discovery triggered an economic boom for the town of Castlemaine. Gold brought prosperity to the town and the nearby areas.  

          Castlemaine lies in a fertile valley where three creeks run through it.  It is near Mount Alexander. After the gold rush, when population declined, residents turned to agriculture as their means of livelihood. Today, what one sees in Castlemaine are old buildings and structures that speak well of its glorious past. They have retained that Georgian style of architecture that makes them magnificent. Tourism is a thriving industry.

         At the height of the gold rush, one delivery of gold to Melbourne from Castlemaine usually weighed about 3 tons.  Castlemaine was then the biggest producer of gold in the whole world. Gold was easy to dig in Castlemaine.  What used to be a quiet, small town became the toast of the world, the pride of the colony of Victoria. Many enterprising individuals seized the opportunity and became rich.

          Back to the four men who discovered gold at Castlemaine.  They chipped gold from the rocky portion of the creek through hammer and chisel and kept this a secret.  They worked quietly and wanted very much to maximize their haul.  One reason that they were keeping it to themselves was the fear that authorities would seize and take control of the area where there was gold. But the secret was not for long.  Soon all roads led to Castlemaine.  That was the start of the gold rush in a place that would later be known as Australia's goldfields region.

- Konted 

Rays of the afternoon sun pierce through the brown leaves of a tree along a principal street in Castlemaine.

The town hall of Castlemaine built in 1898 with a Dutch Renaissance style of architecture 

Castlemaine's Post Office built in 1875.

Noteworthy is the clock tower of the Post Office.

Cumberland Hotel built in 1884. It is across the Post Office.

Commercial building erected by businessman Mr. Williams in the 1870s

Restorer's Barn used to be Mount Alexander Hotel built in 1864.

Sidewalk cafe

Motorcycle shop in Castlemaine

Two Harleys parked in front of the shop

Poetry reading at least once a month at Commercial Bar and Grill

A roundabout at the town proper

Theatre Royal is the oldest continuously operating movie house in mainland Australia. It opened in 1855.

Serves the best coffee in Castlemaine

St. Mary's Catholic Church was built in 1866 through the efforts of a priest who figured prominently in the Eureka Uprising in Ballarat.

Adjacent to the Church is St. Mary's Hall.

An old building near the public market

IGA branch at Castlemaine

Castlemaine Market built in 1862.  It now functions as a Visitors Information Center.

The old public market is now classified by the National Trust.

Pharmacy and a meat shop at Castlemaine

Bank which opened in 1856. This was at the height of the gold rush.

Part of Mostyn Street

Castlemaine Old Bank Building

Christ Church Castlemaine

This building used to house the A. Vercy & Co. A. Vercy was the President of Castlemaine's School of Mines.

Castlemaine Presbyterian Church built in 1862.  It features a Gothic style of architecture.

Castlemaine Art Gallery & Museum at Lytlleton Street

Castlemaine Uniting Church, with an assymetrical front facade, was built in 1894 at a high point of Lytlleton Street. It has  stained glass windows.

Castlemaine Library constructed in 1857

The Faulder Watson Hall built in 1895.  Next to it is the old Telegraph Office which opened in 1857. Mr. Faulder Watson was a pioneer in the town of Castlemaine.

School of Mines & Industries built in 1889

Serves Genovese Coffee. 

The Imperial Hotel was constructed in 1861 at Lytlleton St.  It was built for pioneer Faulder Watson. 

The National Bank of Australia

Providing shuttle service from Castlemaine to nearby towns

Vintage RML guns

Souvenir photo

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Melbourne Zoo

Melbourne Zoo
           Wombat is a marsupial mammal that, like the kangaroo, carries its young in the pouch.  It looks like a badger but is not a badger. When threatened by Tasmanian Devils, it runs and hides inside tunnels and holes. The Black and White Colobus, on the other hand, is a type of monkey that is endemic in some parts of Africa.  And these two animals are top attractions at the Melbourne Zoo.

          The Melbourne Zoo is only a few kilometers away from the City proper.  The zoo is situated in a vast tract of land which was designed to resemble closely the natural habitats of the more than 300 species kept in its fold. The Australian wild bush, for instance, is recreated at a portion of the zoo where kangaroos and koalas roam around.

          Melbourne Zoo authorities have the safety of the visitors as their primordial concern. The lions are kept in enclosures that make it impossible for them to slip or get through. Visitors watch from an elevated platform that is also enclosed by cyclone wires. Accidents are kept to a minimal level.

           Now, while inside the zoo, make sure you wear comfortable shoes.  You will be walking and covering long distances. While the viewing itself is entertaining, it can also be tiring. With different species kept in what appears to be their natural environment, it takes hours to cover the entire zoo. With calluses on both feet giving me the ache, I was able to cover only 3/4 of Melbourne Zoo.  Anyway, I can do it again next time. 

- Konted
Melbourne Zoo is only a few kilometers away from Melbourne's Central Business District. 

Total land area occupied by Melbourne Zoo is approximately 22 hectares.

Entrance to Melbourne Zoo
A few reminders as you enter the zoo
Visitors to the zoo milling around

The Gorilla is a heavily-built ape found in the forests of Africa

Closer shot of the ape
Family of gorillas
Brave enough to mount on an artificial alligator
The Black and White Colobus
Shaded viewing area

The Pelican is a large water bird that has a pouch in the throat which is used in catching fish.
The fish-eating Heron
Built to look like their natural habitat
Asian store
Elephants kept at Melbourne Zoo are from Thailand.

Another viewing area

Elephants are kept in secured areas.

One of the most popular animals in the zoo

The weight of an adult elephant is between 400 - 700 kilograms. Life span is about 70 years.

Cluster of shops within the zoo

Souvenir shop

Take away coffee available here
This one is very much alive.

The elegant Blue and Green Peacock

Another popular spot 
The Orangutan is exclusively Asian.
The Giraffe is the tallest living animal.

The Zebra is known for its black and white stripes.

Young and old alike troop to Melbourne Zoo.

Australian territory

Just like the real Australian Bush

The Kangaroo is Australia's most famous animal.

The Kangaroo has powerful hind legs.

Young Kangaroos


The Wombat is taking a rest.

The Echidna looks like a porcupine.  It is an ant-eater.

The Koala is native to Australia. It gives birth to one joey at a time.

Viewing deck for Woodland birds

The yellow-tailed Australian Cockatoo

Protected woodland birds

More trivia

Australian Eclectus Parrot. It is usually a calm bird even in captivity. Its life span can reach 30 years

The Ladies of Delahey & Melton. They are kind and warm-blooded vertebrate animals endemic in the Australian Bush. They are not yet endangered.  In fact, they keep on multiplying. They are not dangerous. They like talking and talking even when no one is listening.
The Chameleon has this uncanny ability to change color.

An old turtle

The Meerkat whistles when it senses danger. It is also called the Sun Angel as it protects communities from the Moon Devil which is otherwise known as the Werewolf. It is part of the Mongoose family.
One of the most visited areas at Melbourne Zoo

Safe viewing deck
Cubs taking a mid afternoon nap

The adult lions are sleeping too.

The King Lion characterized by a heavy mane

Taking a break from work at Boeing's.

Both entertaining and tiring