Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Australia Day!

Hannah left on Monday, January 24.  Wednesday, January 26 was Australia Day and Ben and I had plans to go to Melbourne for the semifinals of the women's singles tennis at the Australian Open.  Australia Day celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.  It is a public holiday and there are lots of festivals, barbeques, and fireworks around the country.  It is also a common day for people to become Australian citizens. 

The tennis matches we had tickets for weren't until Thursday and our flight arrived around 10:30 Wednesday morning so we had most of the day Wednesday to see some of Melbourne.  We were in Melbourne when we first arrived in Australia in August, but I was sick at the time so we didn't get to do much.  We walked over to the Shrine of Remembrance which commemorates the men and women who have served Australia in armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations. 

A couple of the highlights were seeing a 21 gun salute for Australia Day out in the front and seeing the Gallery of Medals which was a display of 4000 service medals, each one representing 100 Victorians who served in war and peacekeeping operations and 6 who have lost their lives for a total of 400,000 who served and 24,000 who died.  Another highlight was seeing a simulation of the ray of light service which takes place on November 11 at 11 am.  The heart of the Shrine is the Stone of Remembrance which is a symbolic gravestone made of marble with the inscription "Greater love hath no man" from John 15:13.  The first World War ended November 11 at 11 am in 1918.  Each year on this day a natural ray of sun light shines from an opening in the roof onto the Stone of Remembrance.  At exactly 11 am it illuminates the word 'love'.  It took over a hundred pages of calculations to guarantee the opening for the light was in the right position so the sun would pass at the right time for the next 5000 years. 

After touring the Shrine we walked through the Botanical Gardens and had lunch.  We went back to our hotel, the Blackman, and watched some of the tennis on tv.  There was a formation of airplanes flying over doing acrobatics for Australia Day and we could see them from our hotel room.  It was a great hotel, but a little far from the city center.  We were able to figure out the tram system though to get around more easily.  We had dinner along the Yarra River and came back to get ready for our big day of tennis on Thursday.

No comments:

Post a Comment