Saturday 24 December 2011


Appealing to an audience from right across Melbourne and country Victoria, The Boulevard Christmas Lights Display has become one of Melbourne's longest-standing Christmas traditions. Since the 1950s, residents have been hanging lights to decorate their gardens and windows at Christmas. Approximately 100,000 people visit each year over the course of the two weeks.

While many people just drive by to see the light displays and decorations, it's much better to park the  car and walk along the Boulevard, seeing everything in greater detail and on Christmas Eve, especially, listen to the carols, and feel part of the Christmas spirit. We visited last night and as always it was quite a jam-packed event with hundreds and hundreds of cars and even more pedestrians!

The red dots show the best Christmas Lights displays on the Boulevard in Ivanhoe.
The atmosphere is very festive and as the crowds walk through, there is much laughter, carol singing and lots of community feeling.
Modern technology is used to advantage in these displays.
One may catch sight of Rudolph, the Red nose Reindeer...
Or Santa Claus, who seems to be everywhere, all at once!
Many talented youngsters are out in full force singing carols...
Every house seems to have something out in the front lawn, some more elaborate than others.
Ah! There's Santa again...
Some people go to a great deal of trouble!
While others aim more for elegance and symmetry!
As Santa flies overhead again!
Right by his workshop!
Will the real Santa please stand up?
Christmas lights decorate all available surfaces!
And every garden a Christmas fairyland!
More talented carollers putting some zing into their singing!
Even the minimalist look can be very effective!
This is not minimalist!
Another Santa's Workshop! Of course, one couldn't possibly cope with all the gift orders.
Some very good Christmas music, jazz style!
A very beautiful display in a particularly verdant garden!
With wreaths and stars and lights...
And fairy tales and ballerinas and nutcrackers and Christmas trees...
While of course, there is nothing better than Christmas music played on strings by these talented young violinists.
Blue fairy lights are certainly a favourite this year!
Good to see also the real meaning of Christmas out there, larger than life!
I think Santa is following us...
There he is again!
Many of the kids were buying these "lite-up" sticks to decorate themselves up too.
More wearable Christmas lights being sold!
The signs says it all! I hope you have had a peaceful, contented, restful Christmas together with those you love.

Tuesday 20 December 2011


St Kilda is a Melbourne bayside suburb situated on one of the most picturesque points of Port Phillip Bay, only 6 km South of the City. It has safe sandy beaches, a lively nightlife, many attractions and some very pleasant streetscapes. Add to that the Luna Park, several large entertainment venues and some wonderful restaurants and cafés. However, for decades St Kilda was shunned by Melbournians because it was the haunt of prostitutes and druggies. It wasn't always like that. Back in the first half of the century, St Kilda was one of the most fashionable suburbs of Melbourne with grand homes and grand people. Today, it is enjoying a resurgence. The prostitutes and druggies have largely been pushed out by rapidly rising real estate prices and St Kilda is fast returning to its heyday glory. It is now one of the main tourist destinations and is renowned for its picturesque bayside setting, close proximity to the city, beaches, music venues, restaurants and café lifestyle. St Kilda is also the home of the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron.

The Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron is a yacht club located at St Kilda Beach. The squadron was originally founded in 1876. Its has occupied its grounds on Pier Road in St. Kilda since prior to incorporation. This sculpture of Captain James Cook is a replica of the sculpture on the cliffs of West Whitby, Yorkshire, near Cook's birthplace. The work was installed in 1914 at St. Kilda Beach as one of the items in honour of the "discoverer" of the East Coast of Australia. It is a good example of early twentieth century British Edwardian academic memorial sculpture, another and more important example being Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal's equestrian statue of Edward VI. The statue is part of the foreshore group of memorials set up by the St. Kilda Council. John Tweed was a well known British sculptor of the period, and the piece is deemed to be of State Significance.
Originally known as Ingrams Brothers, Ekselman's company built the Catani clock on St Kilda's Esplanade in the early 1930s. It was one of the early electric clocks, run by electric impulse movements. The clocktower is a memorial to Carlo Catani, who was largely responsible for the creation of the Esplanade. Catani was an engineer with the Victorian Public Works department from 1882 to 1917 and was a founding member of the St Kilda Foreshore Trust in 1906.
Norman Schefferle designed the clock tower in 1930, taking inspiration from the Italian "campanile" (bell tower) in honour of Catani's birthplace, Florence. The unveiling ceremony was performed on August 22, 1932. Given the architecture and flora, one could perhaps be excused for thinking one was in Catania!
The Acland St-Carlisle St intersection is always a busy area and many visitors begin their exploration of St Kilda right here, having arrived n the 3A tram.
The O'Donnell Gardens is a park adjacent to Luna Park on Acland Street and features an art-deco monument and tall palms. It is a popular place for picnics, sunbathing, busking or promenading.
A street entertainer draws the crowds in O'Donnell Gardens. The busiest day of the week is Sunday when all sorts of activities and events take place in St Kilda.
The Esplanade Hotel, built 1878, is an iconic public house in St Kilda. It is situated on St Kilda Beach, at 11 Upper Esplanade, overlooking Port Phillip Bay on a rise opposite the St Kilda Pier, and is a significant landmark of St Kilda. It is commonly known locally as "The Espy".  The Espy is a legend in Melbourne. Local bands in the front bar, motorbikes out the front, St Kilda beach over the road, unknown substances on the floor. Not the place to wear your best clothes. Few patrons today are aware of its illustrative past, or of one of its famous residents, Alfred Felton, who filled his apartment there with precious works of art in the 1890s. Many of the works collected by Felton can now be admired in the National Gallery of Victoria. Unfortunately, this fine old Victorian building is being surrounded by modern apartment high rises.
The St Kilda Pier is another local landmark and major tourist attraction. The pier is terminated by the St Kilda Pavilion, an eccentric Edwardian building in the mould of English pier pavilions which is considered of high cultural importance to Melburnians. It was recently reconstructed and listed on the Victorian Heritage Register after burning down. The pier has a long breakwater which shelters St Kilda Harbour and hosts a Fairy Penguin colony.
The beach is the main reason why many people go to St Kilda, and with good reason as it is Melbourne's most renowned beach. Many of the open water events of the 2007 World Aquatics Championships were held at St Kilda beach. The 2006 Commonwealth Games triathlon and cycling time trials were held along the foreshore, and the marathon passed through some of St Kilda's main streets. The annual Melbourne Marathon also passes through St Kilda. St Kilda Beach is regularly used for state and international beach volleyball tournaments. Recreation on St Kilda beaches includes most watersports, including windsurfing, sailing, kitesurfing, rollerblading, beach volleyball, jetskiing, waterskiing and sunbathing.
The St Kilda Sea Baths are sea baths on St Kilda Beach. Until the 1850s, sea bathing was not generally considered acceptable. It was permitted within large timber structures as protection from predatory marine life. The St Kilda Sea Baths were opened in 1860, and provided separate sections for men and women. Women were protected from the sight of men bathing because men frequently bathed naked. Sea bathing was popular as it was considered to have health benefits. The first sea baths were opened in 1860 and rebuilt in 1910 to replace the 1862 "Gymnasium Baths" and have been rebuilt several times since. They closed in 1993, leaving only the front facade. Today the renovated facility operates as a health spa, indoor, heated sea-pool.
Today the St Kilda Sea Baths contain Australia's only indoor heated sea-water pool, a hydrotherapy spa and a steam room. It also is home to the South Pacific Health Club, and a variety of restaurants and cafés. The land on which the Sea Baths were built has remained Crown Land, leased by the Council and re-let to an operator, who sub-let various ancillary functions. The 1931 lease expired in 1953. In 1955, the government signed a new lease with South Pacific Holdings.
The St Kilda Arts & Crafts Market was established in 1970 as an arts incubator and opportunity for the sale of arts and crafts produced by the local artists’ community. The market runs every Sunday and is an iconic and popular destination in Melbourne.
One can find all sorts of things for sale at the market. Genuine art in the form of paintings and statues and drawings, wood carvings, crafts, ceramics, assorted gewgaws, gizmos and gadgets, souvenirs and other bits and pieces that fall under the general heading of "dust collectors".
While most of the people there fall into the "just looking" browser category, the traders still manage to do quite well with sales.
The Esplanade (formerly "Belvedere") at 22 The Esplanade, (cnr Robe Street), St Kilda is a grand old apartment building in a style direct from Westwood, Los Angeles.  The architect was William H. Merritt.  He is said to have designed ‘numerous flats in St Kilda and Elwood’.  Belvedere is a St Kilda landmark and reflects similar domical elements on the Sea Baths, Palais Theatre and at  Luna Park.  It is clad with Cordoba tiles with splendidly decorative curlicue wrought iron brackets and bellied wrought iron balustrades.  Parapets are capped with Cordoba  tiles and decorative rafters project from walls.  All of these are characteristics of the Spanish Mission style. The design is similar to apartment blocks being built in the 1920s on the West Coast of the  United States, but also in New York, such as Del Mar Towers, Brooklyn  (1926). The building permit for Belvedere was issued on 18 December 1928It is said that Kylie Minogue, a performer, may have purchased (in November 2000) a flat in the Belvedere apartment block.
The Palais Theatre is a former cinema, now functioning exclusively as a concert venue, is another landmark of St Kilda. With a capacity of 2,896 people, it is the largest seated theatre in Australia. The building, which retains many of its original features, is considered one of the finest examples of Art deco architecture in Australia and is on the Victorian Heritage Register. In 2006, the City of Port Phillip, which owns the site, called for tenders by private operators to restore the theatre, as part of the proposed redevelopment of the Triangle Site. However, the redevelopment failed to go ahead and the planned $20 million restoration of the Palais was also abandoned.
The St Kilda Luna Park has been one of the city's most prominent landmarks ever since its opening in 1912, and is intrinsic to the suburb's resort character. Melbourne's Luna Park is acclaimed as the world's oldest amusement park under private management and is possibly the only one of its kind still in operation. It is typical of the type developed in America in the late 19th century, catering for the entertainment and relaxation of large numbers of people.
Even though it has been in decline for the last 20 years, with a few of the original sites intact, Luna Park is of national significance. The face, flanking towers, and the Scenic Railway have all been classified by the National Trust. As a whole it is regarded as important for its early date, rarity, continuity of use and for its symbolic association with St.Kilda and Melbourne.
Inside one may find all sorts of amusement rides...
Which even though may look quite ricketty are apparently very safe...
Stomach churning to-ing and fro-ing...
Or a gentler carousel...
Perhaps not surprisingly, there are more stomach churners around!
And if it's all been a bit too much for you, why not relax and unwind in the nearby peaceful "Veg Out"? Veg Out is an organic, chemical free garden run by volunteers. Formerly a lawn bowling green, the land Veg Out is situated on is administered by the local council for the State of Victoria, and has been permanently reserved for public use since 1881. There are over 140 plots, where members, friends, families and community groups enjoy getting their hands into the soil. Many have little or no gardening experience, but they soon learn as advice, seedlings and friendships are readily shared.
Unlike most community gardens in Melbourne, Veg Out lacks rigid barriers between common land and each plot; the paths curve and meander; flowers, vegetables and artworks have equal standing; the rabbits, chickens, budgies and quails add yet another dimension; and the friendships that have sprung up between gardeners, artists and visitors make the gardens an oasis of calm in one of Melbourne's busiest tourist precincts. A very fertile and creative place. This lovely sculpture hovers on one of the rooftops and is so very much symbolic of the place.
A commitment to a sense of community, conservation and organic gardening principles underpins all activities on the site. Related endeavours include the monthly Veg Out St Kilda Farmers' Market and water conservation initiatives in association with South East Water.
Veg Out comprises 145 garden plots as well as communal spaces. Ten plots are held by local community groups and the remainder by private individuals. Private plotholders pay a 6 monthly fee of $4/m2 or $2.5/m2 concession. Once allocated, the plot becomes the responsibility of the plotholder. Most plot holders grow vegetables and herbs, but flowers and art work are also popular. Colourful letterboxes feature prominently in many plots.
A bright mosaic decorates one of the garden paths.
As an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, as a creative outlet and a great community initiative, Veg Out cannot be praised enough!