Travel: Melbourne – The Southern Metropolis

Melbourne, the rival city of Sydney, is situated near the southern extremity of the continent, in the colony of Victoria. A distance of six hundred and twelve miles by rail separates them, and the journey by sea is somewhat longer. Those who are not in too great haste, and have no particular horror of the sea, generally choose one of the comfortable steamers which ply daily between the two cities. The railway journey for the greater part of the distance is covered in the night, and the scenery passed by daylight is of a rather monotonous character, although some fine farming country is passed, and some attractive landscape views are afforded, that presented on page 86 being one of them.

Those who take the journey by sea are liable to experience the roughest phase of nautical life, for there are but few portions of the earth that are beaten by wilder waves than the southern and southeastern shores of Australia. Frequent wrecks occur on those rocky shores. But contrary to all our apprehensions, the voyage proved to be one of the most pleasant we had ever taken. We sailed out of the harbor of Sydney about noon, on the staunch but slow steamer ” Elingamite,” and in fifty hours were sailing over the placid waters of Port Philip, into the harbor of Melbourne. The ship has since dashed its life out against the Three Kings.

Melbourne is a younger city than its New South Wales competitor. It received its name in the year 1837, and is therefore almost the twin of Chicago. In that year it contained about eight thousand inhabitants. It was named after Lord Melbourne, who was at that time British premier. According to the census of 1891, Melbourne and its suburbs contain 491,387 inhabitants. These suburbs, although separate municicipalities, are for a11 other purposes united with the main city. Melbourne and Sydney, standing upon a nearly equal footing, vie with each other for commercial supremacy. The latter port is the termination of a number of deep-sea steamship lines, and being nearer to the islands, naturally takes more than its share of the business with Oceania. But in the business of local and coast lines, Melbourne takes the lead. The two colonies stand about equal as to imports, the amount in 1890 being over one hundred million dollars in each. In exports, New South Wales took the lead of Victoria by about thirty million dollars in the same year.

Melbourne differs from Sydney in many respects -in its general plan, its topography, and its spirit. We have already said that Australia is the most American country outside of America, and with the same degree of truth it may be said that Melbourne is the most American city of Australia. It is the temporary capital of the commonwealth. Melbourne is situated at the head of Port Philip, called Hobson’s Bay, about fifty miles from the ocean. Port Philip is an irregular oval in shape, and about forty miles in diameter. It has but a narrow entrance called the Heads, out of and into which the tide rushes with a strong current, forming what is called the “rips.” These are the dread of passengers liable to seasickness, for here they are pretty sure to get a shaking up. On the cliff’s stands the village of Queenscliff, a favorite seaside resort. Here are fortifications and a fine lighthouse, as at the Sydney harbor. Numerous wrecks have occurred at and in the vicinity of the entrance to Port Philip. Treacherous currents abound on this rock-bound shore. There are several light-houses along the coast, placed at short intervals, yet it sometimes happens that captains unacquainted with those waters mistake the lights, and are dashed upon rocks while supposing that they are entering the harbor.

It is a sad sight to look upon the broken remains of half a dozen vessels which have thus met their fate within a few years. Perhaps a ship comes from New York with a valuable cargo. For three or four months it has battled successfully against wind and storm. By faithfulness and vigilance the voyage has been carried toward a happy conclusion. At last the expected haven is in sight. The sailors are glad in view of rest on shore, and the officers feel a sense of relief that their care will now for a time be lightened, and they are anticipating the pleasure of reporting to the owners a prosperous and profitable trip. But there come a few moments of carelessness. No pilot is at hand, and a mistake is made in calculation, or perhaps drink beclouds the mind, or an unexpected wind carries the craft into a fatal current, and in a few minutes all is lost. The seamen are struggling for life in the breakers, and the gallant ship, is groaning and crashing upon the rocks. Many such stories are told, for it has happened over and over again.

The thought cannot be repressed that this case illustrates the fate of many lives. There are those who successfully meet the difficulties of a long life. For years they contend with obstacles, and fortune seems to smile upon them. But at last some untoward circumstance turns what appears to be certain victory into terrible and everlasting defeat. Some fatal mistake is made, some peculiar and unexpected temptation arises, and in a moment all is lost. The trouble in such cases almost always comes from some flaw in the character, or from some cherished sin, which has been carried along through life, but has up to that time never produced any apparently serious consequences.

The fact is, sin is a dangerous thing to trifle with. In the end it produces death. We may tamper with it for a while, but it will bear its baneful fruit at last. The saddest of all sad sights in this sad world is a wreck at the end of a long voyage. To come within reach of the goal, and then be lost, is the saddest of losses. To have hope raised by degrees. to the very point of realization, and then dashed to disappointment, is more terrible than never to have hoped. In the voyage of life there are dangers and trials, but we often say that “all is well that ends well.” It is the end of life that solves the problem of success or failure. But how can we anticipate a happy ending unless we pursue the straight course toward the desired haven ? and how shall we reach that haven except we continue in the right path ? Let the youth consider these things, for the critical moment is approaching when the issues of life will be tested. There is but one way of safety, and that is to follow the leadership of the great captain, Jesus Christ. Cherish no fatal sin, permit no careless hours, keep the mind and the heart clear, and the conscience clean. Ask God for help, trust implicitly your Pilot and Captain, then the end will be well.

The city of Melbourne was originally located upon the banks of the Yarra River, six or seven miles from the bay by water, but less than half that distance in a straight course. The land lies quite level, with only sufficient inclination for drainage, and hardly that. But this circumstance was favorable for the laying out of wide, straight, and regular streets. The opportunity was so well improved by those who did the work that, for beauty of plan, Melbourne has but few equals in the world. Ample provision was made for parks and gardens, some of which lie very near the heart of the city.

Money and skill have been lavished upon them, and their restful attractions speak the praises of the city. To step out of the hurry and dust of the busy street, through the gates of a park, and walk at once into cool solitudes and dark shades where dwell lovely flowers and birds, is a privilege which the denizens of Melbourne can ever enjoy. The principal streets are nicely paved with wooden blocks. They are kept scrupulously clean, being swept by machinery early each morning, and constantly tended by boys through the day.

The traveler is at once impressed with the admirable tram system of Melbourne, which is one of. the best of its kind. Formerly passenger traffic was by omnibus and by train. The latter feature still prevails to a great extent. An excellent suburban train service is maintained between the central city and the different urban quarters and all outlying districts. About the year 1885, privileges of building cable tram lines were granted to a company, and from time to time additions have been made to their charter, till now they have over forty miles of well-equipped lines in operation. The straight and level streets render this means of conveyance very practicable, enabling the system to work smoothly, comfortably, and with but few breaks. “Tram” is the British term for street car. In natural scenery Melbourne has but little to compare with Sydney. The Yarra, a pleasant stream above the shipping point, flows alongside the Botanical Gardens. These gardens are extensive and well-kept, and are remarkable for their beauty, but one’s admiration of them is considerably tempered after a visit to those in Sydney. However, in the Zoological Gardens, which lie within easy reach, we find a superiority over those of the sister city. Melbourne’s mean temperature is, as above stated, about sixty degrees, and such a climate is favorable for the care of a very large class of animals which live in the open air throughout the year.

In the very center of the city, upon the banks of the river, is an open reserve of perhaps one hundred and sixty or two hundred acres, devoted to recreation grounds. Here, upon Saturday afternoons, crowds of people gather to participate in or witness games and sports. The ground is parceled out. to different organizations by whom it is held under the government. In addition to these breathing-places, there are parks and gardens too numerous to mention. Prominent among them are the Fitzroy, the Treasury, the Carlton Gardens, and Royal Park, in the latter of which the Zoological Gardens are situated.

In the central portion of the city is the famous Library and Museum. The former is one of the world’s celebrated collection of books, and the latter embraces a fine art gallery and an industrial museum. The National Museum, in connection with the State University, is a very fine collection of objects of natural history from every part of the earth. In viewing the public buildings of Melbourne, a stranger feels some surprise that in this remote corner of the earth such costly and substantial edifices are to be found. The town-hall and Federal Coffee Palace, on Collins street, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Exposition Building, Parliament House, as well as many of the banks and business blocks, are noble specimens of an architecture which would grace any city on earth.