I never had to exercise such self-restraint as when I went to the Book Market at, you guessed it, Federation Square. Every Saturday, bibliophiles gather to sell, buy, and swap new and old titles. Vendors line the Atrium with an array of titles, varying in genre from Russian literature to romance to children’s books, for prices that would even give Amazon a run for its money.
After convincing myself that lugging ten kilos of literature around Melbourne would not be my smartest decision (or the easiest task), I strolled down St. Kilda Road to the Shrine of Remembrance. The Shrine was dedicated in 1934 to the 114,000 Victorians–men and women alike–that served in the Great War (1914-1918). During the war, not all the bodies of dead soldiers made it back to Australia for a proper burial, so the Shrine was erected to provide acknowledgement, honor, and closure for the families of the deceased.
Spanning the entry wall to the Visitor Centre is a display case containing 4,000 medals presented to Australian military personnel during times of war and peacekeeping. These medals reflect the honors of 106 Victorians.
The Visitor Centre houses a museum of war relics–uniforms, letters, weaponry, etc.–from the establishment of the colony, Victoria, to present day efforts in Afghanistan.
Throughout the day, a remembrance ceremony is conducted in the Sanctuary of the Shrine around the Stone of Remembrance. Engraved on the Stone is “Greater love hath no man.” The Sanctuary is constructed with a glass roof allowing the sunlight to rest upon the word ‘LOVE’.
Underneath the Sanctuary is the Crypt, a holy room in honor of the sacrifices made by all the Victorian men and women who have served the Australian military and lost their lives.
Across the street from the Shrine of Remembrance is the main entrance to the Royal Botanical Gardens. Like a lush Central Park, the Gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for families to picnic, play soccer, and soak up some vitamin D.
Within the Gardens, the National Herbarium of Victoria is located. The Herbarium conducts research on over 35,000 specimens of Australian plants, fungi, and algae; as well as some non-Australian collections. Researchers focus on the taxonomy and systematics of Victorian flora.
Lastly, I finished my day of solo explorations with lunch in yet another Melbourne alleyway, musical entertainment free of charge.